If gardening seems like all work and not enough benefit, I invite you to read this article. Let’s see if we can inspire you to at least try to grow food for your family.
Why Grow Food?
The answer’s in the question: because its your own. Food. That you grow.
- No shipping
- No oil strikes
- No grocery store
- No middle man
- No market forces
- No GMOs
Just you and your dirt. It’s about your safety, your family, your way of life. I encourage you right off to just decide to grow food, in any way you can. AND YOU CAN!
Food is such a huge part of why we homesteaders, gardeners and DIY types do what we do and live the way we live. As we noted in our book, The Do It Yourself Homestead,
“A homesteaders life revolves around food, am I right?
“We’re usually to be found planting seed, growing veggies, pruning fruit trees, tending livestock that produces or becomes food, bringing in the harvest, preserving the harvest, sharing the harvest, cooking with the harvest and, in general, raising our own food. People with a homesteader’s heart are often to be found reading nourishing cookbooks. We put more research into how to build up soil fertility than we did our thesis or our baby’s name. How to turn a pig into bacon is the major theme running through the several books we have stashed around the house.
“We homesteaders take food very seriously.”
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Grow Food – Begin
We’re going to limit our discussion today to growing your own vegetables, fruits and herbs. Growing your own food in the garden starts with growing good dirt. Need to know how to do that? Here are a few suggestions:
- The Ultimate Guide to Garden Soil by 15 Acre Homestead – this has all the dirt on dirt
- Family Food Garden shows you How to Make Compost: The Lazy Composter’s Guide
- Speaking of lazy composting, here are 3 Reasons to Use a Compost Tumbler
- How about a DIY Rotating Compost Bin from Lone Star Farmstead
- If you’re focusing on organic amendments (I’m a big fan!), here’s an article from The 104 Homestead that might help
- Learn to work with the seasons by building your soil in the fall with Learning and Yearning.
Think worms are cool? Have you heard about vermicomposting – that is, composting with worms?
- Here’s an article to answer all your Vermicomposting Questions
- Pint Size Farm can educate you on using mealworms as fertilizer
For a small but thorough explanation of how to grow good dirt, please click below to learn more about The Art of Gardening:
Learn About Permaculture
Interested in Permaculture? Or, maybe you’ve never heard of it? Either way, these articles might help:
- Little Mountain Haven – How to Use Weeds as Garden Mulch
- Homestead Lady – An Introduction to Permaculture
- Northern Homestead – Permaculture Zones
- Gentleman Homestead – Permaculture Defined
- Homestead Honey – Building the Soil with Lasagna Gardening
Grow Food – Plant
The first thing you need to think about is what to plant and how much of it to put in the ground. This will inevitably lead you to consider the space available to you.
- If its a small space, grow vertical as much as you can to increase your yields.
- If you’re in an apartment, grow in pots – everywhere.
- If you’d like to increase the amount of land on which you can garden, look around for empty neighborhood lots and see if they can be converted to community gardens. Ask neighbors if they have unwanted space you can use.
- Be bold and garden on top of your grass – yes, you can live without grass.
Here are a few more links for your consideration:
- Learn how to grow enough to feed your family
- Learn when to plant each type of veggie – planting at the right time is key!
- How much land is needed to be self-sufficient?
- Do you have special garden ideas in mind? How about Planting a Medicinal Herb Garden?
- Or a or a children’s garden?
Grow Food – Harvest
Growing your own food is work. Perhaps I should have said that first.
It’s work from the moment you begin to grow your soil to the moment you preserve the last of your harvest before the winter holidays begin (or longer, depending on where you live).
Depending on what you grow and how you’re able to time it for your area, you can begin harvesting early spring and until your first hard frost. Once you really get confident, you can be harvesting year round in many, many climates.
What to Do with All That Harvest?
Treasure it and thank God for it and consume it, making it last as long as possible!
Need more specifics? Here are just a few:
- Harvesting, Curing and Storing Onions
- How to know when to Harvest Potatoes
- How to Grow, Harvest, Cure and Store Sweet Potatoes
- How to Harvest, Cure and Store Pumpkins and Winter Squash
- How to know when to Harvest Broccoli
- Perennial Flower Harvest and what to do with it
- How to Harvest Herbs
- How to save seeds: Leek seeds and tomato seeds
For Further Study on The Harvest:
For more information on organic gardening, visit The 104 Homestead.
Learn more about Food Preservation from Homespun Seasonal Living. She even has a wonderful canning booklet to get you started with unique recipes:
Joybilee Farm can help you year round as you learn to use and preserve the harvest of herbs.
Schneider Peeps is here to help you learn more about growing a real garden. She even has a garden notebook resource to use year after year. This is the notebook I use for my garden:
And, of course, we’re always here to share ideas about what to do with the harvest – and we’re always in need of your input so feel free to comment and share your own ideas.
We also invite you to email us for a free sample from our book, The Do It Yourself Homestead. We can send you any one of the four sections in our The Homestead Garden chapter. Just email at Tessa@homesteadlady.com. To learn more about the book, click below:
If you’re on Pinterest, please stop by our Homestead Lady boards:
- Children’s Gardens and Homesteading,
- Foraging and Wild Edibles,
- Herbs and Health and many, many more.
*Cover image gratefully attributed to this Wikimedia Commons user.