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Posted in: Homesteaders, Organic Gardening

How to Start Gardening for Self-Sufficiency

Learn gardening for self-sufficiency! No matter where you are on your journey, you can make a difference with these practical tips.
Gardening for Self-sufficiency

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If you want to grow the healthiest food in the world and have access to food all year long you have to check out these amazing tips on gardening for self-sufficiency!

Start where you are with what you have!

Anyone can take steps towards self-sufficiency. No matter where you are on your journey, you can make a difference in your health and the planet by learning how to produce your own food! Get the most out of the space you have with these 5 essential garden components.

I am showing you how to supercharge your garden with this list of things to do! I have found that all sustainable homesteads and permaculture food forests are comprised of these 5 elements to produce food all year long. Learn more about gardening for self-sufficiency!

This post is all about gardening for self-sufficiency.

5 Essential Tips to Gardening for Self-sufficiency

self-sufficiency gardening

Gardening for Sustainability & Self-Sufficiency

We began producing our own food on a very small 200 square feet plot (zone 8a). Now, we have a permanent vegetable garden space that measures 1000 square feet.

We will eventually grow food on a total of 1/3 acre. That is not much space at all! This is a pretty small-scale “farm!”

As much as I enjoy gardening, I think it is important to spend time learning how to make every system as low-maintenance and self-sustaining as possible. Gardening can be labor-intensive.

I don’t mind a good workout every now and then, but if you are a busy person, the less work you have to do will help in the long run.

free garden planner

#1 The Polyculture Method

Polyculture gardening is the process of creating a healthy, balanced ecosystem of soil-enriching plants, plants that bring in necessary and beneficial insects, and plants that ward off unwanted pests.

This symbiotic method of gardening is the most natural way to create organic herbs, fruits, and vegetables.

You choose plants that work well together. With the polyculture method, you plant species that benefit one another instead of rows of single plants (monoculture).

By choosing plants that benefit each other in the garden, you can create a natural ecosystem that makes your work easier! This is the first step to gardening for self-sufficiency.

This way of gardening helps build the soil with nutrients, helps plants grow better and get the nutrients they need naturally.

Polyculture gardens need less amending with fertilizers, therefore you will save time and money.

Implement this gardening method, and you will see fewer pests. No need for pest control!

Combine perennial herbs and greens with annual vegetable plants for a beautiful and easy way to begin working with the polyculture method.

Sit back and watch your harvest yields grow in less space and fewer plants!

fruit trees for edible front garden
tfh recommends

#2 Plant Fruits and Nuts for a Self-sufficient Backyard

If you have the space, you need to invest in fruit and nut trees! Get those trees and bushes established as soon as possible. Your future self will thank you!

Choose varieties that are adapted to your growing zone. In fact, I recommend shopping at a local nursery instead of ordering online for this reason.

The expert at the nursery will know which plants are tried and true in your area. An adapted plant is a smart investment and will be more resistant to pests.

In preparation, establishing your fruit and nut trees can be expensive, and the last thing you want is to watch all that hard work and money go to waste with struggling plants.

Blueberry bushes make a beautiful barrier or backdrop in your landscape and get along well with pine trees. Strawberries can be planted with asparagus to make for tons of produce with little effort.

Did I mention, they come back year after year?!

A Self-sufficient Garden needs Superfoods!

Other permanent fruit bushes, vines, and trees to consider are grapes and muscadines, raspberries, blackberries, currants, honeyberries, gooseberries, Aronia berries, kiwi vine, and pomegranates.

There are so many types of grapes and berries to be grown in various zones. The darker the berry, the healthier it is! It is like growing multivitamins in your backyard-but better!

Permanent and perennial plants and trees are ideal for gardening for self-sufficiency.

Common fruits like apples, cherries, peaches, and plums have miniature varieties and can be grown in smaller spaces. If you have a small space such as a patio garden, you can learn pruning tricks to cultivate these trees in even the smallest of spaces.

Nut trees take up much more space, but the investment pays off in a big way!

Did you know pecan trees are the only true native nut tree in the United States? Pecan and walnut trees are southern favorites.

Depending on your zone, try almond trees, hazelnuts or filberts, and pistachios!

high-calorie crops

Use this quick garden companion planting reference to save time!

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tfh recommends

#3 High-Calorie Crops is Important to Self-sufficient Gardening

Besides fruit and nuts, which are ideally low-maintenance once established, focus your energy on farming foods that will produce the most energy in the form of calories!

Gardening for sustainability with foods that have a high-caloric density should be top on your priority list. What better way to get the most reward out of your efforts.

Potatoes and sweet potatoes are essential and highly productive. They are easy to grow, and adapt to many growing conditions. For example, you can grow them in containers and grow bags.

They store well, and taste amazing when grown by you! Potatoes are one of the most pesticide-laden crops, and growing them on your own is important.

Parsnips and carrots provide an excellent source of calories per pound. Plant varieties of all colored carrots to get the most phytonutrients as well.

Root Vegetables are Full of Calories!

For low-glycemic, nutritious treat, Jerusalem artichokes are a common staple to replace potatoes. It grows fast, produces beautiful yellow flowers, and is very prolific.

The best thing about Jerusalem artichokes is the fact that they come back every year. Be careful to plant these in a contained bed, because they will take over your garden!

Beans and grains such as corn, quinoa, lentils, buckwheat, amaranth, dragon tongue beans, sorghum, and rice are some of the most calorie-rich foods that you can grow.

These can be interplanted in the garden or grown in larger quantities if you have the space. Gardening for self-sufficiency doesn’t depend on farming massive crops.

You can work on a smaller scale, and still be making a huge difference!

Last but not least, sunflower seeds! What a tasty, nutritious treat at the end of a beautiful show of flowers throughout the growing season. You can’t beat that!

staple crops

#4 Staple Foods

Beans and grains are often considered staple foods in our culture, but you need the space to grow them if you want to grow enough to feed your family for the year.

More staple foods of choice are tomatoes and peppers! It is not uncommon to have on or two tomato-based meals in a week around here.

Plant as many as you can in the space you have, and preserve them for the rest of the year. For instance, you can make canned tomatoes in many of your favorite ways: crushed, diced, or in a paste.

Peppers and salsas are wonderful canned. Try this recipe the next time you are ready to preserve your peppers and tomatoes.

The ability to open a fresh jar of tomatoes the next time a recipe calls for it, and it tastes just like summer is the best feeling in the world!

More importantly, you know exactly where it came from, how it was grown, there was no waste generated, and no carbon footprint from logistics, either.

Win-Win! It feels so good to be gardening for self-sufficiency!

container garden

#5 Create a Perpetual Kitchen Garden

A perpetual kitchen garden is the solution to fresh, convenient ingredients whenever needed. Put containers on the porch, or a plot as close to your kitchen door as possible. You could even do a windowsill garden!

Here, plant all the herbs you tend to use on a daily basis. Be sure to include greens that can be used in stir-fries, salad, and smoothies.

Similarly, evergreen spring onions and garlic chives are great to keep close by as well.

It is important to have year-round greens and herbs for cooking.

Traditionally, I recommend growing the most-used herbs and seasonings like parsley, oregano, garlic, and onions in mass plantings so that I can dehydrate and process them into dried seasonings.

Plant greens in succession for salads, smoothies, stir-fries, and food for your animals.

This keeps the need for conventionally grown greens like lettuce and kale at a minimum.

Since homegrown have a much higher nutritional profile in comparison, why not use a multitude of varieties?

self sufficient gardener
How to Design an Edible Front Yard Garden
If you’re looking to add some interesting edibles to your landscape while still keeping the look of an attractive front yard, here are some great ideas.

How is your self-sufficient journey coming along?

Have you checked these essential gardening components off the list, yet? I would love to hear how it is going! Let me know about how gardening for self-sufficiency is working for you and your tribe by commenting below.

More on Sustainability

Knowing your food and taking responsibility for how it is produced is the best way to make a positive ecological impact.

You are reducing waste and resources, relying less on conventional agriculture and the use of pesticides and herbicides like glyphosate, and eating the healthiest way possible!

Learn more about gardening for sustainability.

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Zero-Waste Living: What They Forgot to Tell You
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The Secrets to Low Waste – Zero-Waste Grocery Shopping

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Use this quick garden companion planting reference to save time!

the ultimate garden companion planting guide

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Comments (2) on "How to Start Gardening for Self-Sufficiency"

  1. Hi! This is so important to us. Making small steps to become more sustainable. That’s why we started our garden and are continually adding and expanding our efforts. I follow you on IG, and came here from there. Love your site so far!

    1. That’s wonderful! I hope we can inspire each other. Thanks so much! Every little effort counts, and gardening is so rewarding. I am learning more about permaculture methods every chance I get. I want to make the most of the land we have.

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