The world is changing and there is an ongoing trend of people wanting to be self-sufficient. So, is it possible to fully depend on food coming from your garden? Well, if you can do this, then you will end up experiencing significant health benefits, gain knowledge, and even save money. But how can you go about this? Well, here is a guide with all the information and a few tips to get you started.
Is It Possible To Eat Only From Your Own Garden?
Yes, it’s possible to eat from your garden only. Just make sure that you cultivate enough plants that suit your needs. The best way to do this is to shop for your own garden first. But what does this exactly mean? Well, there are food items that you consider basics. They cannot miss in your pantry all year round.
If you are planning to create a self-sufficient garden, then you should consider buying the plant materials that complement what you normally shop in food stores. Once the crops mature, you will start harvesting from your garden directly and avoid overdependence on retail stores.
The best thing about a home-grown pantry is that the food items are usually healthier. You are in control of what you grow and how. For versatility and sufficient food products, make sure that you grow plants that can be enjoyed in every season.
What Should You Grow To Have Enough Food?
A self-sufficient garden will certainly provide you with food freedom. In addition to that, you will also gain valuable gardening skills. If you want to have enough food all year round, then there are staples that a home garden should have. What you should grow must have the following food varieties:
Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes
Potatoes are calorie-rich food varieties that consume little space. They are full of vitamins and nutrients that you need for healthy development. What makes them appropriate for gardening is that they are fairly easy to cultivate and manage them. You just need to bury it on the ground under appropriate inches. Note that they also mature very fast i.e. within 65-90 days.
Meanwhile, sweet potatoes are among the healthiest foods that your pantry can have. They have high beta carotene that supports wellness. Just like potatoes, sweet potatoes are also easy to grow and manage. Just make sure that you cultivate them under the right conditions since they love warm climatic conditions.
By just using a small space, you can grow a lot of nutrient-dense grain corn plants. At the moment, it’s not easy to find organic corn in retail outlets. Besides that, the available organic products are quite expensive. So, why not grow your own and cost-effective grain corn plants?
It’s simple to grow corn plants in any garden space. There are also multiple options to choose from, this includes dent, flour, and flint corns. However, you need to be cautious, especially if you are within a neighborhood with many cornfields. Cross-pollination can be such a great issue to deal with.
With their rich antioxidant profiles, tomatoes are staples in most foods. They have many health benefits including being great sources of vitamin C, reducing the risk of cancer, and heart disease among others. They are dense with nutrients and also add color/flavor to food.
The incredible versatile crops usually have large produce and take up limited space. Did you know that 8 tomato plants can provide you with almost 100 pounds of tomatoes? Well, if the plants are healthy and the growing conditions are optimal, then you can expect large produce.
They are highly flexible and you can store them in many forms. You can freeze them, dry, make salsas, pastes, canning, or make sauces. Overall, tomatoes are the base ingredients for hundreds of delicious kitchen recipes so there is no way that they can miss from a self-sufficient garden.
Cabbage: Kale and Collards
If you are keen on starting your own garden, you are definitely conscious of healthy living. That’s why cabbages must make it to the list of your garden plants. Nutrient-dense vegetables are easy to grow. Because it’s a cold-hardy, harvesting can be done later compared to other crops.
It should be noted that kale and collards form part of the cabbage family. They are easy to manage and highly nutritious. Besides that, these superfoods can be used time and again. Well, you can always harvest what you need and then come again and do the same until you decide to replace the plant or completely uproot it.
This is a general term used to describe a variety of plants. There are two types of squashes: winter and summer squash. Summer squash are those crops that have a very short shelf life. Although they are highly productive they have limited storage options. They include patty pans, yellow squash, and zucchini.
Winter squashes are the most popular for any home garden. They are also highly productive and have an extended shelf-life. These crops include acorn squash, pumpkins, banana, and butternut. Although they tend to sprawl a lot, using trellis can help to save your garden some space.
They are so productive and 100 sqft of legumes can yield up to 5 pounds. While dry legumes can be costly if you are in the habit of buying them, you save lots of cash by cultivating the plant in your garden. Beans, for instance, are rich in calories. It should be noted that bush legumes have a shorter time for maturation, hence you can cultivate them several times annually.
They tend to thrive in different seasons. Legumes that need cool weather include lentils, peas, and favas. The rest usually thrive in warm weather. But just like most plants, make sure that you research extensively to find the best legumes that suit your garden.
Note: when harvesting beans, ensure that the pods are dry. For long-lasting storage and use, store the pods in sacks and then hang them in a cool and dry shed.
You can add carrots to stews and soups or just eat them while they are fresh. These are essential in any type of self-sufficient gardening. They are versatile crops that can be grown all-year-round. They don’t take a lot of space, highly nutritious, and they are very easy to grow.
They are easy to grow and manage. Furthermore, they have a long shelf life and you can store them all winter season in a cool place. Onions make the staple of any self-sufficient home garden because they are normally used in meat recipes, to make sauces and soups.
Most of us crave sweet and delicious food to eat. However, what we normally eat with our favorite foods are dried herbs that sometimes have artificial fillers. A fresh and fun way to provide seasonings to meals is by simply having herbs section in your garden. It will make it look stylish as well.
Choose the herbs that you normally love to use and through in a few ones that you want to try out. For instance, basil, chives, oregano, and thymes are great to begin with. For storage, you can always dry them overheat or simply hang them upside them in a cool space so that they can retain their flavors.
Berries and Fruits
We find a garden with borders super attractive. That’s why we recommend having fruits or berry bushes to border the garden. Adding them helps to partition the garden and even secure the exterior sides. Besides that, you will have enough fresh fruit supplies to enjoy in summer. In case the harvest is bounty, you can always freeze them for preservation.
There are several crops that make the staple of a self-sufficient garden. Here is a short summary of what you can consider:
- Nutritious and Easy Storing Crops
- Winter squash
- Sweet potatoes
- Bette greens
- Collard greens
Continuous Harvest Plants
Taste and Flavor
Tips for Creating a Crop Garden
While having a space is important, you need to know how, when, and what to have in your garden. To ensure that you grow enough food that will cater to your needs every season, here is how you can go about it.
Start with Staple Crops
These are the crops that you need the most and, therefore, you should start with them as you plan to transition. Staple crops are usually nutrient-rich and have high numbers of calories. So, your garden should initially have the crop varieties listed above.
You are going to need food throughout the year. So, what’s best? To carefully consider the succession of plants for continuous harvests. Apart from the staples that are easy-to-store and high calories, add in root vegetables with nitrogen-scavenging features. They are easy to cultivate, take little space, and have a short maturation period.
Choose Productive Crop Varieties
Know the soil type in your garden and what type of crops can thrive in them. For surety, carry out several soil tastes covering different parts of the garden. This will help you to get a bumper harvest and spend less time trying to handle non-productivity.
Consider the Type of Seeds You Use
High-quality seeds will most likely lead to quality harvests. So, make sure that you buy seeds from trusted and verified sellers. Even so, make sure that you consider the growing distance so that the plants can have enough growing space and manage pollination if needed.
Consider Moisture Content
Different plants have different moisture content needs. But generally, healthy soil should be moist. Crops that need more moisture can always be watered, in the morning or evening. Those that don’t need too much moisture should be well aerated and have a good drainage system.
Consider the Soil Fertility
For your crops to thrive, you need to maintain the level of soil fertility. The best thing about this is that there are several ways to handle this and yield a bounty harvest. Generally, it’s advisable to use animal manure since it’s organic or make compost. The organic matter helps to restore the lost nutrients that the crops utilized.
Consider using organic pest control techniques and pathogen prevention methods. Besides that, nutrient management as well as crop rotation are important. During off-seasons, add some cover crops to minimize the chances of soil compaction.
Knowing what to have in your garden and how to manage it seems to be a heavy task. But the results you will get will be amazing. Educate yourself and improve your home gardening skills, understand how you can sufficiently utilize your garden space, and the best strategies that can lead to bumper harvests all through the year.
How Many Calories Do You Need Per Day?
There are many factors that affect calorie intake. We are all different and, therefore, have different body requirements. Factors such as age, height, size, general health, and lifestyle affect the daily recommended calorie intake.
Females between 14-30 years need at least 2,400 calories if they lead an active lifestyle. Those with a sedentary lifestyle need less than 2,000. On the other hand, males within the same age bracket need 2,800 to 3,200 for those who are active. Meanwhile, those with a sedentary lifestyle need less than 2,600 calories. For surety regarding the number of calories you need, multiple your basic metabolic rate by the activity factor.
What You Need to Know About Daily Calorie Requirements
- It varies from person to person
- The brain normally uses almost 20% of the total energy in the body
- Major factors that affect the ideal calorie intake include muscle-fat ratio, bone density, and age
- Taking a 200-calorie meal that consists of fruits and veggies is much better than consuming the same amount of calories from fast or processed food varieties.
- You need more calories in a cold environment than warm in order for the body to produce more energy
- Eat high-fiber and slow-burning calories such as legumes, carbs, and healthy fats that are satiating and take longer to release energy.
How Big Should The Bed Be To Grow Enough Food?
This is a question that a lot of newbies tend to worry about. The truth is that it depends. Yes, it depends on you and it depends on your family’s needs. This is because some of the crops take up more space than others, so what you are going to plant in your garden matters a lot. For instance, if you are going to grow asparagus, squash, and Brussels sprouts in plenty, then be prepared to use lots of gardening space.
A gardening bed with around 4-feet wide can adequately provide enough yields. This is because you don’t need to waste lots of space and the plants will be grown relatively close to each other. It should be noted a high plant density also eliminates the chances of weeds growing due to used up space and nutrient competition. Alternatively, you can divide the bed into different one square feet sections to grow different varieties of plants.
Regarding the overall gardening space, estimates indicate that each person needs around 200 square feet garden space to allow for sufficient harvest that can feed everybody throughout the year. So, if you are a family of 5, then you need 1000 square feet of garden space.
Is It Possible To Provide An Entire Family With Food From Their Own Garden?
Yes. It’s very possible for a family to fully depend on food that comes from their garden. The only problem that you may face is probably space. But if there is enough land that you can maximize on, then it’s possible.
Besides land, another crucial factor is the type of crops and how many plants you are planning to grow. It should be noted crops like tomatoes usually produce so many fruits per plant. So, you only need to cultivate a few of them and still get a sufficient harvest. Meanwhile, there are crops such as carrots that simply produce one vegetable per plant. So, if you need more then you will have to cultivate more.
For instance, if you have a family of four, here are the number of plant estimates that you need in each growth cycle:
- Broccoli: 12-15 plants
- Beets 25-30 feet-long row
- Corn 45 -55 plants
- Kale 15 -20 feet-long row
- Carrots 12-15 feet-long row
- Zucchini 5-10 plants
- Squash 5 -10 plants
- Tomatoes 5-15 plants
Note: if you need extra crops for use during winter or any other season, then you need to add a few crops to supplement your harvest.
How Do You Get Enough Water For Your Plants In Your Own Garden?
Plants need water in order to grow and produce. Those plants with no moisture content usually end up drying and eventually die. So, how do you ensure that your garden plants are getting enough water supply?
Water the plants in the morning
this is the best time to hydrate outdoor crops before the day’s heat hits the soil. Plants have a better chance of absorbing the seeping water before evaporation takes place. Additionally, this gives them the best opportunity to withstand heat and evaporation that usually occurs during hot days.
Ensure the Water Reaches the Roots
Roots and not stems are responsible for absorbing water that the plant’s needs. So, a sufficient watering system should ensure that the water has reached the plants’ roots and not just the upper part of the soul. Do not just water one root side as it will lead to sided growth. The plants will end up with poor nutrient absorption from the soil leading to poor results. So, make sure that you water around the plant by effectively distributing the water supply.
Water the Plants Gradually
Chances are that you might want to water the plants completely at one go, right? Well, if you do this, then there will be water run-off. The upper part of the soil will also end up getting carried away. You need to understand that water needs a few minutes in order to seep into the soil. To ensure that the water you are applying is put into use, water the plants gradually. For instance, you can have the first round where you apply it randomly, second round where you check to ensure that all the plants are watered, etc.
Don’t Apply Water to the Leaves
When leaves become wet, they become prone to diseases. Besides that, wet leaves are usually prone to sunburns that lead to serious damages by interfering with the process of photosynthesis. Keep the leaves dry to avoid the development of mold diseases.
Gardeners should water thoroughly but less often. If the climatic conditions are good, then you just need to water the plants twice a week. Too much water supply will lead to logging that normally interferes with the roots. Waterlogged soil will suppress how the roots breathe and the plant cells will eventually die due to lack of oxygen.
Use Water-Saving Methods
There are several methods that you can use to irrigate your plants. However, you need to significantly reduce the chances of water loss as much as you can. Avoid using broadcast sprinklers. They normally soak the plant leaves leaving them at risk of fungal diseases. In addition to that, this type of sprinkler isn’t highly efficient. During windy days, there are low chances the water will even reach the roots of the plants as the distribution will definitely experience interference.
Drip irrigation is quite effective as it handles specific parts of the plants i.e. the roots. Besides that, water is released to the soil slowly and effectively, thereby minimizing the chances of water loss.
Note: to preserve soil moisture content and promote the development of roots, you can use mulches to cover the soil surface near the roots of the pants. This helps to facilitate greater root development, cool environment, and retention of water moisture. It’s also important to understand the type of soil in your garden.
What Is The Best Way To Store Water For Yourself In The Garden?
You need water supply all-year round if you need a self-sufficient garden. So, you must find a way of collecting and storing water for your garden plants. While water is an essential resource for plant growth, it’s limited. You need to make the most out of it and store it safely.
You can use council water, however, this means that your water bills will go higher. With the right plastic water bottles, you can collect and store clean water that can be used all year round. Besides that, you can also build concrete water tanks using a pile of bricks. Depending on your needs, here are some of your options:
- Use a standard water butt: this can hold between 100L-300L. A water butt usually has a square shape or it’s a barrel with a tap on its base.
- Ornamental tank: perfectly fits in different garden sizes. Its capacity normally ranges between 30L to 300L.
- Above-the-ground water tank: most of them are usually large enough and can hold up to 2,000L of water. Because of their capacity, you need to ensure that the tank is placed on a firm and flat base.
- Underground tank: this is another great alternative, especially if you are trying to maximize your outdoor space. These tanks usually have large capacities of water. For use, you need to install a water pump.
Which Farm Animals Can You Easily Keep To Take Care Of Yourself?
Crops are good for a self-sufficient garden. But you are going to need eggs, milk, cream, beef, and poultry among other animal-based products. So, what are some of the farm animals that you can easily keep in your back garden?
They are the most common birds that farmers normally keep. As long as you feed them right and vaccinate them against common bird infections, then you can reap big from chickens. You will be rewarded constantly with fresh eggs as well as meat. Besides that, you can always sell extra chicks because chickens normally hatch quickly. Furthermore, chicken manure is great for creating organic gardening compost and they normally forage on bugs that may infect your plants.
They can supply you with milk, meat, and wool. Note that while sheep are grazers in open fields, you can also keep them in sheltered spaces provided there are shrubs, few rocks, trees, and hedges. Consider the type of sheep breed you want to rare since they thrive in different climatic conditions.
They are great animals for companionship. Pygmy goats are also known as natural lawn mowers because they thoroughly feed on grass. Why should you consider them having them in your backyard? Well, they will give you gallons of milk daily. For at least 10 months, mature and well-fed pygmy goats will supply you with tons of milk because they are normally milked twice daily. An advantage of having them is that they thrive in limited space. Just make sure that you build a good shelter for them to protect them from different climatic conditions.
If you have a small yard, then rabbits are still perfect additions. They simply need a small shed which can also be lifted above the ground to maximize the garden space. They are relatively small in nature, don’t produce annoying odor, and are quiet.
Apart from supplying you with meat, they are great for controlling weeds. The companion animals can effectively eat certain weeds in the yard, making crop management process quite easier. By putting male and female rabbits together, you will quickly end up with an oversupply of litters because they mate a lot and reproduce frequently!
Just like chickens, ducks can be kept in limited backyard spaces. They are not like their wild counterparts that often need water. Domestic ducks are prized because of their highly demanded eggs. Bakers normally want duck eggs because they make baked goods to have light and fluffy texture. So, they are good sources of income since the eggs usually cost twice more than chicken eggs.
Note: they are great alternatives for chickens because they don’t constantly dig, scratch, or peck the ground. However, make sure that you occasionally supply them with water puddles.
Creating a Self-Sufficient Garden: Beginner’s Guide
If you want to plant crops and keep animals in your garden, here are a few beginner guide tips that can help you get self-sufficient.
Well, animals generally need shelter and outdoor space where they can occasionally move in or graze. On the other hand, plants need different environments to thrive. For instance, delicate crops such as fruit bushes and salad need lots of shade while vegetables need a sunny environment.
Pests, Bugs, and Disease Management
Both plants and animals can get affected by pests and diseases. For animals, you can vaccinate them and occasionally call a veterinary to check on them for management purposes. On the other hand, you can use organic pesticides to deal with certain bugs or diseases for plants. Furthermore, you can also deal with some bugs naturally. Chickens and ducks can naturally deal with snails and slugs. On the other hand, rabbits can feed on weeds and clear unwanted leaves.
Consider Plant/Animal Rotation
To ensure that you get quality products every harvest season, always do plant rotation. Don’t forget to use quality seeds to get bounty harvests. With animals, you can always sell and replace them to create variation.
Have a Calendar
Yes, a gardening calendar will help you plan your cycle throughout the year. This way, you can carefully plan on the steps to take to make sure that you can effectively leave within what your garden produces. Have instructions on when to plant, how to care for crops/animals, when’s the mating season, etc.
The Bottom Line
Creating a self-sufficient garden is one of the best things that you can do for yourself. There are many crops and animals that you can cultivate or rare for food, depending on your preferences. Just make sure that you understand the basics and have a plan. If you have a comprehensive plan and start to work on your garden, there is no doubt that you will soon enjoy the numerous benefits that come from feeding on your garden products.
Yes, it is possible to feed yourself. But of course it takes a lot of effort. If you have the necessary space, you should perhaps start small and only grow a few types of vegetables to find a start in cultivation. If you are used to growing a small amount of vegetables and fruit yourself, you can expand it and open up additional areas in your garden for growing. It is of course also much healthier to grow your own vegetables and fruits, as this way you can prevent the use of chemicals. If after a while you have grown enough vegetables and fruit to make a living, you can now try to keep your own chickens. So you always get fresh and delicious eggs straight from your garden.
Then of course you can also start keeping your own farm animals. These then give you further components of your diet.
You see, it is definitely possible to feed on your own country or fruits, fruits and animals. It all takes a little time and you have to estimate for yourself whether it is worth this work.