The strategy behind growing a survival garden differs from that of growing a standard vegetable garden. Sure, tomatoes, peppers, and herbs taste great, but they are all low in calories. A savvy survival gardener will grow a diverse assortment of high-calorie food crops.

There is a quick and easy way to get your survival garden started–purchase a “survival garden” seed assortment. But before you buy that prepackaged bucket of seeds, you’ll need to check if there are there enough high-calorie plants included. Those buckets always seem to lack some of the easy growing, high-value crops that are grown from live material, such as potatoes and sweet potatoes. Rather than buying a turnkey bucket of seeds, you might be better off selecting your own seed, supplemented each spring with slips and seedlings for each plant type. This way, you can take into account the soil, weather, pests, and rainfall where you live.

Some high-calorie veggies to consider for a survival garden are peanuts (a massive calorie payout of 1,200 calories per cup); sunflowers (the seeds yield 800 calories per cup); soy, navy, kidney, lima, and fava beans; chickpeas; black-eyed peas; and parsnips and other root crops like carrots, turnips, and rutabaga.

The work of tilling, digging, and weeding can be a big deterrent for many people who would otherwise get a lot from the experience of gardening. But there is an easy solution for that, too–you can grow in containers. I like the big pots that trees come in, but a garbage can with a few holes in the bottom will work fine, too. Fill these containers with potting soil and/or mulch, compost, aged manure, or some dirt you dig up.

Once the work is done, the waiting begins. But once the plant parts start to turn edible, you’ll have to control the inevitable pests. Little things like bugs can wreak havoc. Bigger things like deer, raccoons, groundhogs, and thieving neighbors can erase all your hard work in a flash. Blockades, netting, fencing, and vigilance are just another element of growing your own self-sufficient garden.

Do you have a survival garden? Tell us what you grow and why in the comments.