The first step towards self-reliance is having the capability to feed yourself, or create your own food. Starting now allows you to get the kinks out of the way, so that you aren’t finding kinks while your tummy grumbles.
Farming, gardening, and growing your own food can be a mountainous task, but having an idea of where you need to be is the first step in the right direction. Now, I don’t know where you live, whether rural or city, but anyone, anywhere can have a small garden – how big and/or diverse will greatly depend on the space you have available to contribute to the lifestyle.
Follow these easy steps to get started!
- Choosing a good spot to start your garden.
Whether you are planting on twelve acres or the back balcony of your apartment, you need to choose where your plants will live. Especially in a potted setting, but constant movement can stress a plant – which is not good for fruiting and survival. Roughing out a spot will be best, for the peace of mind for both you and the plants.
If you are planting into the ground (as in on acreage or a backyard) you should select a spot that gets at least 6 hours of direct sunlight daily, and has good soil and irrigation. You may also want to research irrigation practices to get ahead of the game – especially if your area is subject to seasonal and/or extended droughts.
- Preparing your soil or pots.
Soil quality is an ever-present issue, even amongst the largest of growers. With extended and/or overreached use, soil degrades over time, meaning it will prove a constant battle, but getting it right the first time is essential. There are kits you can look up that will test your specific soils pH, macronutrient content, and mineral levels.
Mulching is a great way to get started, but you don’t want it too thin or too thick, or it could make growing more difficult. It also reduces the ongoing weed struggle and improve overall moisture. Making your own compost is as easy as piling brown layers (straw, leaves, etc.) and green layers (grass clippings, livestock manure, food waste) on top of one another. Keep the layers moist and turn it often. This is good for ongoing garden support. Coffee grounds are also good and full of needed nutrition, but all dairy is generally bad.
- Selecting the right seeds and plants for your lifestyle, area, and personal preferences.
Choosing the right seeds is easy, but finding them may prove difficult. First, though, you will need to research what fruits, veggies, or other plants grow best in your area.
For example, if you live Alaska or high in the mountains, you may be inclined to grown plants such as vine tomatoes, lettuce, kale, broccoli, or asparagus. Whereas, if you live in the northernmost US states or cool mountain regions, you may prefer vine tomatoes, lettuce, kale, broccoli, spinach, strawberries, eggplant, sweet peas, or red and white potatoes. Most of the continental US, stretching from Washington state and Oregon, down to New Mexico and across the Midwest to New England, can procure tomatoes, corn, squash, melons, beans, strawberries, lettuce, and other green in the spring and fall seasons. Anyways, do research that is pertinent to your region and stick to a few varietals. Starting small is a great way to get momentum.
You may also look at what grows best in your region and place it out for different foods. For example, start with tomatoes, and grow a pizza; or lettuce and grow a mondo-salad. Starting small with a window herb garden is also a great way to get into it. Research and learn about succession planting or level planting, so that you can grow three different crops in the same spot.
As far as the seeds themselves, go with heirloom seeds, so that they will grow year after year (as long as they are kept up nicely). Stick to non-GMO seeds – this is imperative. I buy my seeds from Seeds Now! – as they guarantee organic and non-GMO seeds, offer tons of deals, and extensive bundles. Check them out here!
- Getting the right tools.
Tools are a thing you can easily spend way too much time and money on – so keep it simple. Depending on how large a spot you select for your first garden, you will need different tools. But for a small to medium sized garden, or potted garden, you can get away with a few small hand tools. Go to Amazon or your local hardware store and pick up a small hand shovel and three/four-prong hand rake. Good news! You’re ready to start!
- Learning about insects.
To be an active gardener, you will also need to research active garden bugs, and know the good guys from the bad guys. For example, lady bugs eat other destructive pests that may want to make your garden its home. Learn to love the ladybugs. Praying Mantis are another great insect to have in your garden – and create an awesome alternative to potentially dangerous chemicals in your garden.
After you’ve prepared, fertilized, seeds, maintained and watched your garden grow, it will be time to harvest. Depending on the size of your garden, you may need to think of alternative methods of canning or otherwise preserving your foods. The key to self-sufficiency is being able to have strawberries in the winter!
You may also provide some neighbors or friends with some of your homegrown goodies. They may prove your most valuable assets in a hard time of crisis.
- Going above and beyond.
Lastly, think about after the garden is set and growing. Remember when you first started the journey and thought it was unattainable? Well, it doesn’t look that way now, does it?
The next step in self-sufficiency is the ever-growing journey to adding skills and knowledge into your brain. Think about adding chicken coops, turkeys, starting beekeeping, or even goats, sheep, or cows to your property
Thank you for reading my article today. As always, if you have a comment, please leave it below; or if you have a suggestion on a topic, please contact me via the contact page above!