Self-Sufficient Garden – Ultimate Guide to Start

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Did you know more and more people are going down the route of self-sufficient gardening? Many people don’t know that anyone can self-sufficient garden; all it takes is a little bit of patience, planning, creativity, and effort.

There are myriads of techniques, steps, and crops suitable for a self-sufficient garden. The very first step for creating a beautiful, self-sufficient garden is to find out your local zoning laws. Zoning laws outline what you are allowed to plant and where. For example, most areas won’t allow livestock except for chickens or maybe rabbits.

Understand your local laws before you start a self-sufficient garden, or your efforts will go to waste.

Steps to Self-Sufficient Garden

Here are a few essential steps for starting your very own self-sufficient garden. These steps will ensure your garden is thriving, and your harvest is fruitful.

self-sufficient garden
self-sufficient garden

Step 1: Establish a Plan

You have to start by marking the areas on your property that will be utilized for a self-sufficient garden.  The primary goal is to produce as many vegetables as possible and get the most out of the vegetable beds. You will have to know the soil and the type of resources you will use and the sort of gardening you want to do. If this is your first time gardening, we recommend starting with only a couple of raised beds, approximately 100 sq. feet total. You can add more or move them once you get used to this process.

If you want to garden in-ground, try to create raised beds by piling up the soil to construct plateaus. For beginners, raised beds have the advantage of getting rid of many problems attached to new gardens, such as drainage issues.

Raised beds tend to require less tillage and work, saving a lot of time and expenses of using power tools like roto-tillers.

Plan where you want to locate your beds, keeping in mind the sunlight exposure and set rotation schedules to ensure your plots remain disease-free.

Step 2: Plant Summer Garden

You will want to start with a basic garden, which is typically a summer garden. Plant your crops in spring after the frost has lifted. Check with the local county for information on the last day the frost lifts.

Make a compost pile when working. Find out new techniques and tips for growing different varieties of vegetables such as lettuces, squash, beans, and more. Determine which ones you find the most fruitful and which ones yield the most. Initially, use the heirloom varieties to save seeds when ready.

Read up on composting and soil maintenance and how to build the soil. Don’t be like commercial farmers and allowing it to spoil away by relying on artificial fertilizers.  It is also helpful to learn about no-till and cover crop methods.

Step 3: Extend the Growing

You can use many techniques that make your growing season longer, depending on your location. Use vertical crops such as trellised cucumbers and pole beans to maximize the yields and minimize the space. Use row cover, cold frames, and containers to help.

You can use certain tools to create possibilities of a year-round growing. Many crops such as bush beans and cherry tomatoes do really well indoors as hanging gardens. Plants that can handle the cold, like cabbage and kale, can be grown in early winter. Begin early with your self-sufficient garden by planting your seeds indoors. So when the frost lifts, you can start planting immediately.

Step 4: Focus on Complete Food Production

Add bees to attract pollinators to your crops and chickens for eggs. Figure out which type of trees you can grow and inform yourself about aquaculture to see if you can raise fish. You never know the possibilities of complete self-sufficiency unless you try.

self-sufficient garden tips
self-sufficient garden tips

Step 5: Buy Chickens

This may not be for people who are gardening in their balcony, but chickens are the easiest livestock to own. A hen in a healthy shape can give you one egg every day and can add protein to your vegetable crops. Caring and cleaning up after the chicken may not be to everyone’s liking; however, a good self-sufficient garden is incomplete without them.

Step 6: Keep Bees

Beekeeping has made a comeback with hives appearing in urban locations on rooftops. Keeping one on your balcony is not recommended unless you suit up every time you go outside to get some fresh air. However, having bees is not just for wealthy people. Honey is considered a good investment as it sells well. And who can say no to organic honey?

Step 7: Water Butts

Water butts are the best way of becoming less reliant on grid irrigation. The basic approach of collecting rainwater goes way back, and it is surprising why more don’t use this facility, especially during the summer season.

Water without chlorine is great for watering plants; however, this water is not safe for human consumption. Rainwater collected and left in the tank becomes susceptible to legionella bacteria. If you decide to use it for drinking purposes, don’t forget to treat it.

Ultimately, the less reliant you are on the house pipes, the more self-sufficient and eco-friendly your garden will be. 

Step 8: Beehive Composter

Making compost is a perfect use of all your waste. You need a massive compost bin and plenty of garden scraps and food. Most of the food we throw in the waste bin can be used for composting as well.

By doing this, you can effectively improve the quality of your soil and send fewer amounts to landfill. The compost is nutrient-rich food for your crops. You won’t have to spend a lot of time at a garden center. Most compost bins aren’t that expensive. You can buy a small one or large, depending on the garden waste produced.

Step 9: Solar Panels

Install solar panels to be completely self-sufficient.  The opinions of solar panels are divided because of the cost. However, most people aren’t aware that it is an investment. The initial costs are a lot, and in some places, the weather might be erratic, but because of the growing popularity, their prices are falling.

Essential Crops for Self-Sufficient Garden

When choosing what to grow in the garden, most people think about how easily crops can be harvested, or how easy it is to plant them, grow them, whether they produce high yields or not, how easily they can be stored, and how much nutrition is required.

How To Self-Sufficient Garden

Once you grow vegetables, you won’t grow enough to sell them. Of course, it will be used by your family to eat, and that’s why choosing the right type of crops to grow is important.

Now that you have all the steps for creating and growing a self-sufficient garden, here is a list of essential crops to grow.

Potatoes

Potatoes are an essential self-sufficient crop. They are a must-grow vegetable for everyone, especially for those who want to do self-sufficient gardening. They are dense in nutrients, full of calories, produce a lot of harvest in a small space, and are easy to grow and store.

Potatoes typically take 2 to 3 months to harvest and can be grown by putting a potato with a few pokes in it into a mound of soil. A lot of people grow this vegetable in a container and sacks, and they grow in a small space successfully.

Once harvested, potatoes can be stored up to six months provided they are properly taken care of and kept dry and cool (50 degrees). All you need to do is check them every 2 weeks. Use any that are good, and remove the ones that have gone bad.

Carrots

Carrots are great root vegetables that can be grown and stored really well, making them an essential part of a self-sufficient garden. Carrots can be enjoyed fresh or in soups, stews, and as a side dish. They are a diverse vegetable with tons of nutrients. When planted properly, carrots can be grown all year round in any region.

They do not take up a lot of space are relatively easy to grow. These vegetables are a must-have for every gardener. All you need to do is sow some seeds and then let nature work its magic. They are especially favorable for beginner gardens as they require minimum effort and time.

Winter Squash

Winter squash is not a favorite for many gardeners but makes for a perfect vegetable to grow in a self-sufficient garden. Winter squash includes corn, pumpkins, spaghetti, and butternut squash varieties. All the vegetables store incredibly well, unlike their counterpart, the summer squash.

They take a lot of space in the garden because of their vines. However, they yield pounds and pounds of harvest. They are also great for vertical gardening if you don’t have enough space.

When stored properly, squash will last all through winter, and they will look gorgeous when displayed on your kitchen countertop. Just check on the vegetables every 2 weeks to get rid of the spoiled ones, and keep the ones that need using.

Dry Beans

Dry beans are an important crop to grow in a self-sufficient garden. They provide only about 3 pounds every 100 sq. feet. However, those three pounds are approximately 4,500 calories.

Once dried, the beans can last for a very long time, but it is best to use them within a year. There are plenty of varieties of beans available. Select a few beans to try and see which ones are best grown in your self-sufficient garden. Each variety of beans has different growing needs and conditions. Therefore, read up on them before planting.

Bush variety beans can grow a lot faster compared to pole variety but try to grow a bit of both. To store the beans, you will have to wait for the pods to dry completely. Hang them from a rafter in a garage or a potting shed in a grain sack. Give the beans a bit of time before hitting the sack with a wooden stick to separate the pods. Once that is done, store them in clean jars and place them in your pantry.

Tomatoes

Tomatoes are nutrient-filled, multi-purpose fruits that can be canned up, frozen, and dried.  They yield a large number of crops without taking a lot of space. 8 plants can give you a family of tomatoes weighed 100 pounds. They are easy to grow and produced all year round, provided the conditions are optimal.

Unlike most crops, tomatoes do not store well.  However, they can be made into sauces and stored in cans, made into salsa, dried, or frozen to avoid getting spoiled. A garden without tomatoes is like a beach without water. If you are not growing tomatoes in your self-sufficient garden, you are not doing it right.

Beets

Beets are utilized in many ways. They aren’t everyone’s cup of tea; however, they are delicious and come with a myriad of minerals and vitamins. Also, they are very easy to store. Beets don’t take a lot of time to mature, making it an easy crop to grow. This vegetable offers multiple harvests. Depending on the variety, it can last all through winter if stored properly.

Beets taste delicious, and when grown in a self-sufficient garden, their flavor becomes more pronounced. They can be eaten fresh or pickled. Their greens are very nutrient-dense as well, making it a perfect for a self-sufficient garden.

grow vegetables self-sufficient garden

Cabbage

Cabbage is a sturdy, nutrient-dense vegetable. It is used to make kimchi and sauerkraut and can be easily stored for several months. Cabbage can be harvested a lot later than other crops. Such crops are known as cold-hardy crops. This is a must-have vegetable in a garden.

Whether you decide to ferment it or consume it fresh, it will easily become one of your favorite vegetables to eat and grow. Freezing it is fairly easy and, therefore, can last you 6 months.

Onions

Ah, onions! No dish recipe is complete without onions. They give your food a flavor boost and can be added to many dishes. When onions are grown from seeds or sets, they are fairly easy to take care of.

They are not nutrient-dense, and you can’t consume them on their own. However, they are essential in a lot of recipes and don’t take up a lot of space. You can easily make onion powder as it will last longer. You can also dry the onions and then store them into a container.

Just like all other vegetables, keep checking up on your onions every 2 weeks. Toss out any that have spoiled, and keep the ones that are still good for use.

Garlic

Another essential allium for your self-sufficient garden is garlic. It provides a strong flavor but doesn’t offer a ton of nutritional value. However, what garlic lacks in nutrients makes up for it with medicinal properties. Also, who eats spaghetti without some garlic in it?

Garlic is a very easy crop to grow and doesn’t take too much space. It stores for many months. You can also make garlic powder that can last even longer.

Garlic can also be fermented, canned, and used to help with cold and flu symptoms in the winter season. It also provides a robust flavor to recipes. How about some Indian food?

Grain Corn

Many people wince at the idea of corn, but it is a great vegetable to grow. It provides tons of nutrients and can yield a high amount of harvest without taking up too much space. Finding organic cornmeal at the store is getting difficult.

Growing crops in your self-sufficient garden will provide your chickens with a good food source as you can make homemade cornmeal. It is an inexpensive grain and relatively easy to grow. Growing your own corn will provide you with a lot of nutrition that you can’t find at the grocery store. The only issue with growing this crop is the risk of cross-pollination. Still, if you have space and means to grow this crop, you should grow it.

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Don’t forget, a lot of effort and work goes into creating and maintaining a self-sufficient garden even if you choose to grow easy crops. Keep educating yourself about the process and the strategies to keep your vegetables healthy. If done properly, it is the most rewarding experience. We hope the above steps and tips help make your self-sufficient gardening experience smooth and enriching.

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