Providing high-quality food for your family year-round takes foresight and planning, plus healthy doses of commitment and follow-through. Whether you grow as much of your food as you can or you source it from local producers, the guidelines here will help you decide how much to produce or purchase. The charts linked to in “Plan How Much to Grow” later in this article will also help you estimate how much space you’ll need — both in your garden to grow the crops, and in your home and pantry or root cellar to store preserved foods. Here’s a step-by-step plan to help you make the best use of your garden space (or farmers markets) to move toward homestead food self-sufficiency.
1. Establish Your Goals
Make a list of the foods you and your family eat now — and note the quantities as well. The charts linked to in “Plan How Much to Grow” further along in this article assume a half-cup serving size for fruits, vegetables and legumes, and a 2-ounce serving for dry grains. If your servings differ from the charts, be sure to adjust your calculations accordingly.
Decide what you’d like to grow, noting the foods your family prefers and recognizing that not every crop will grow in every climate. Research different crop varieties: Some crops — such as melons — require long, hot days to mature, but certain varieties need fewer days to reach maturity, which allows them to be grown in areas with a shorter growing season.
Don’t be afraid to start small and build gradually toward food self-sufficiency. A good starting goal might be to produce all of a certain crop that you use. An early milestone for me was growing all of the green beans we needed for a year and all of the ingredients for the spaghetti sauce I canned. Maybe you’ll aim to eat at least one thing from your garden each day. Keep your goals in mind as you’re planning a garden.
Becky Big Canoe: Become self-sufficient in food and housing with EnviroNative Training Initiatives
Published on Nov 15, 2013
VIDEO: Becky Big Canoe: Become sustainable in food and housing with EnviroNative Training Initiatives
WATCH ON YOU TUBE:
VANCOUVER, B.C. – In an interview with Alfred Lambremont Webre, Becky Big Canoe of Ontario, Canada describes becoming sustainable in food and housing with EnviroNative Training Initatives.
EnviroNative Training Initiatives, which Becky Big Canoe founded, is a not-for-profit organization set up to design and deliver training programs in food security, entrepreneur skills and natural building. Their target clientele is First Nations women and at risk youth.
You can support this initiative in self sufficiency by voting at:
EnviroNative Training Initatives
Becky Big Canoe
Becky Big Canoe: Become sustainable in food and housing with EnviroNative Training Initiatives
Published on Mar 22, 2013
Val and Eli take us on a tour of their permagarden in Jacksonville FL. They have created a wonderful, natural space filled with self-sustaining fruits, vegetables, herbs, medicines, colors, water, fragrances, and wildlife…. at their fingertips.
View more permaculture videos here: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=…
Published on Apr 5, 2013
Thought I would share with you how to make a no dig potato bed. This type of bed is easily constructed and can save you so much time and effort as well as producing a brilliant crop.
Ten Minute Gardener
Music at the beginning of the video is extremely loud so please be sure to lower your volume settings as I have no control over the settings used to create the original video.
Uploaded on Apr 27, 2009
Healthier more robust plants, better drainage, improved uptake of nutrients, preserves beneficial living organisms, more organic matter, more humus, better water infiltration, holds more water, break down and recycle soil nutrients.
Video by Dr. Milton Ganyard at HerbFest to benefit the Graham Johnson Cultural Arts Endowment, http://www.gjcae.org.
Fall in love with fall gardening
By Vicki Mattern
Mother Earth News
With tomatoes, peppers and melons now hitting their late summer stride, it’s easy to forget that autumn and early winter can be as abundant as spring and summer. Those who seize the opportunity for a second season of growth will find the planning and planting well worthwhile.
The steps to a bountiful fall garden are simple. Choose crops suited to fall growing conditions (see the list of crops and recommended varieties at the end of this article). Ensure your chosen site has organically enriched soil and adequate water. And start now. If you don’t have seeds on hand, use our online seed finder.
You can replace spring-planted lettuces, peas and brassicas (broccoli and its relatives) with new plantings that mature in fall. Seeds and transplants will take off quickly in the warm summer soil. They’ll appreciate cooler nights, too.
Look forward to peak flavor and performance for many crops that do not prosper in summer heat. Lower temperatures are ideal for producing crisp lettuces without the bitterness or bolting that can occur in hot weather. Frost-kissed kale, Brussels sprouts and cabbage have a special sweetness. Carrots, beets and turnips also thrive in the fall garden and, after harvest, can be kept in a pantry or root cellar so you can enjoy their goodness well into winter. Collards, mustard and other greens also like cool weather.
Favored Crops for Fall
When deciding what to plant now for fall harvest, gardeners throughout most of the country should think greens and root vegetables, advises John Navazio, a plant-breeding and seed specialist at Washington State University and senior scientist for the Organic Seed Alliance in Port Townsend, Wash., which conducts annual tests of crops and varieties to evaluate their cold hardiness.
Leafy greens (such as lettuces, spinach, arugula, chard and mâche) and root veggies (such as beets, carrots, turnips, radishes and rutabagas) as well as brassicas (including broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, collards, kale and Chinese cabbage) and peas will all thrive in the cooler weather and shorter days of fall. In many regions, some of these cold-hardy crops will even survive the winter to produce a second harvest in spring. (See “Stretching the Season,” below.)
If you garden in the South or other areas with mild winters, you can grow all of those crops as well as heat-loving favorites. “Here, we can set out tomato transplants in late August,” says David Pitre, owner of Tecolote Farm, a certified organic farm near Austin, Texas. Pitre also plants okra, eggplant, peppers, winter squash, cucumbers and potatoes in August and September for winter harvest. Plant cool-season crops in the garden after temperatures cool — late September or later.
Fall is also prime garden season in the Pacific Northwest, where abundant rain and cool (but not frigid) temperatures are ideal for growing brassicas, root crops and leafy greens planted in mid- to late summer. The hardiest of these crops often hang on well into winter if given protection, such as row covers or cold frames.
(For full details on which crops to plant now in your region for fall and winter harvests, check out our What to Plant Now pages, or sign up for a free, 30-day trial of our online Vegetable Garden Planner — MOTHER)
Hardy Fall Varieties
After you’ve decided which crops to grow for fall harvest, zero in on specific varieties. “There are big differences in cold hardiness among varieties,” Navazio says. “Some are better able to photosynthesize at cooler temperatures.”
For the past several years, the Alliance has been conducting trials of as many as 170 varieties of 11 different crops for their quality and performance in fall and winter. Among them, kale, radicchio and Swiss chard have been tested extensively and confirmed cold hardy to 14 degrees Fahrenheit with no protection. Several varieties stood out for the Alliance and market gardeners.
Broccolis. Opt for varieties that produce plenty of side shoots, rather than a single large head. “‘Diplomat’ and ‘Marathon’ can survive the heat of late summer and thrive when cool weather arrives in fall, producing a second cutting as late as Thanksgiving,” says Elizabeth Keen, co-owner of Indian Line Farm, a 17-acre organic operation in Great Barrington, Mass. In Austin, Texas, Carol Ann Sayle, co-owner of Boggy Creek Farm, grows ‘Packman’ and ‘Diplomat’ for harvest by Thanksgiving and cuts ‘Marathon’ by Christmas.
Carrots. Consider storage ability when choosing carrots for your fall garden, says Thomas Case, owner of Arethusa Farm, a certified organic farm near Burlington, Vt. Both Keen and Case like ‘Bolero’ for fall growing and winter storage.
Lettuces. Whether you garden in the North or South, lettuces are a mainstay of the fall garden. Several European heirloom varieties are especially durable: ‘Rouge d’Hiver’ (a flavorful romaine whose leaves blush red in cool weather), ‘Marvel of Four Seasons’ (also called ‘Merveille de Quatre Saisons,’ a sweet and tender butterhead with red-edged outer leaves) and ‘Winter Density’ (also called ‘Craquerelle du Midi,’ a compact bibb type with deep green leaves) are good bets. Even in Zone 5, these lettuces will hang on into December and, with the protection of heavy mulch or a cold frame, will often return with renewed vigor in early spring.
When the lettuces go dormant in winter, you can count on mâche to fill your salad bowl. Mâche (or corn salad) is delicious and will survive and continue to grow in colder weather longer than any other salad green, says Eliot Coleman in his classic book Four-Season Harvest. In his Zone 5 Maine garden, Coleman seeds mâche inside a cold frame from September through early November for harvest until April, when overwintered lettuce resumes its growth.
Kale. Of the popular Lacinato-type kales, ‘Black Tuscan’ consistently rated best in the Alliance tests for cold hardiness, vigor, flavor and stature. The Alliance also recommends ‘Winterbor’ (a tall Dutch kale), ‘Red Russian’ and ‘White Russian’ (two tasty Siberian kales). It’s hard to go wrong with kale in fall, no matter the variety: All have superior flavor when temperatures drop into the 20s or below. “Sugar is the plant’s natural antifreeze, so as the temperature drops, more starches are converted to sugar, sweetening the flavor of kale and other brassicas,” Navazio says.
Radicchio. Still considered a specialty vegetable by many, radicchio thrives in the cool conditions of fall and offers a wealth of possibilities in the kitchen. Of the more than 20 varieties tested by the Alliance in the past two years, a few Italian open-pollinated varieties proved most cold-hardy. ‘Variegata di Luisa Tardiva’ and ‘Variegata di Castlefranco’ produce upright, variegated heads similar to romaine lettuce, with beautiful hearts and radicchio’s signature bitterness.
“Grown in cool weather, they are delightful, with a mild spicy flavor,” Navazio says. Although some of the plants’ outer leaves were “toasted” at 14 degrees in the Alliance trials, you can strip off any damaged leaves and enjoy the tasty interior.
Navazio suggests slicing the heads, then wilting the leaves in a pan with cipollini onions, as cooks do in Italy, or dressing the heads lightly with olive oil and roasting them on the grill or a campfire. For cold hardiness and flavor, Navazio also recommends ‘Rossa di Verona’ and ‘Grumolo Rossa.’
Published on May 20, 2013
Erik Knutzen and Kelly Coyne have been farming their yard in Los Angeles for over a decade. In addition to a mini orchard and extensive veggie garden, they have all the instruments of an urban homestead: chickens, bees, rainwater capture, DIY greywater, solar fruit preserver, humanure toilet, rocket stove, adobe oven. But they don’t like to talk about sustainability of self-sufficiency, instead they prefer the term self-reliance.
“I don’t like the goal of self-sufficiency, I think it’s a fool’s errand to chase that goal,” explains Knutzen. “I think we live in communities, human beings are meant to live, and trade and work together. I think self-reliance is okay, in other words, knowing how to do things.”
Knutzen and Coyne share their tinkering, DIY and small scale urban agriculture experiments on their blog Root Simple and in their books “The Urban Homestead: Your Guide to Self-Sufficient Living in the Heart of the City” and “Making It: Radical Home Ec for a Post Consumer World”. They believe in the value of shop classes and old-school home economics (back when you learned how to make things, not shop for things).
For the couple, their true goal with all of this self-reliance is freedom to live as they please. By growing their own and canning, pickling, preserving, freezing and baking their own breads and beans, they live frugally. They also only own one car (plus a cargo bike), one cellphone and no tv. “I think a lot of it has to do with our overdriving ambition to be free,” explains Coyne, “makes being cheap fun, because it means you can be free”.
Root Simple: http://www.rootsimple.com/
Original story: http://faircompanies.com/videos/view/…
*Cameraman Johnny Sanphillippo also films for the site Strong Towns: http://www.strongtowns.org/
MOTHER EARTH NEWS
Manage these vigorous self-seeders so you’ll never have to buy seeds again.
By Barbara Pleasant
ILLUSTRATION: ELAYNE SEARS
One of the characteristics of a truly sustainable garden is that it produces at least some of its own seed. This is most often done when gardeners select, harvest and store seeds until the proper time for planting the following year. But some self-seeding crops produce seeds so readily that as long as you give them time to flower and mature, and set seed, you will always have free plants growing in your garden. You can simply let the seeds fall where they are, or toss pieces of the seed heads into the corners of your garden, or whichever area you want them in — no harvesting, storing or replanting required. With most self-seeding vegetables, herbs and annual flowers, you’ll just need to learn to recognize the seedlings so you don’t hoe them down. Should seedlings require relocation, you can simply lift and move them — after all, they are sturdy field-grown seedlings.
In addition to getting all the free garden plants you need (and some to share with family and friends), nurturing self-seeders is also a great way to provide a diversity of flowers that supply pollen and nectar for beneficial insects. Self-seeding flowers, herbs and vegetables that show up in early spring include arugula, calendula, chamomile, cilantro, dill, breadseed poppies and brilliant red orach (mountain spinach). Nasturtiums, amaranth, New Zealand spinach, and even basil or zinnias appear later, after the soil has warmed.
Starting a new colony of any of these annuals is usually a simple matter of lopping off armloads of brittle, seedbearing stems in the fall, and dumping them where you want the plants to appear the next season. It’s that easy. Most of the seedlings will appear in the first year after you let seed-bearing plants drop their seeds, with lower numbers popping up in subsequent seasons.
Working with reseeding, or self-sowing, crops saves time and trouble and often gives excellent results, but a few special techniques and precautions are in order. Some plants that self-sow too freely — especially perennials such as garlic chives or horseradish — will cross the line into weediness if not handled with care.
Spring Seeds for Fall Crops
The first group of plants to try as self-sown crops — both because they’re the easiest and they’ll be ready the same year — are those that tend to bolt in late spring. If allowed to bloom and set seed, dill, radishes, arugula, cilantro, broccoli raab, turnips and any kind of mustard will produce ripe seeds in time for fall reseeding in most climates. Lettuce will take a little longer, but often gives good results in Zone 5 or warmer.
One way to encourage self-seeders is to select vigorous plants from a larger planting, and let these plants grow unharvested until they bloom and produce seeds. This will work well enough, but it’s often bothersome to have one lone turnip holding up the renovation of a planting bed. To get around this problem, use a Noah’s ark approach: Set aside a bed or row and transplant pairs of plants being grown for seed into the ark bed. As the weeks pass, weed, water and stake up seed-bearing branches to keep them clean, but don’t pick from the “seed ark” bed.
Published on Feb 25, 2013
Permaculture is a system of ecological design that strives to emulate natural ecosystems so that our gardens and farms become self-sustaining, healthy and bountiful. It seeks to create gardens and landscapes that arrange all the elements of the design in ways that maximize the synergy of the design while minimizing the need for human inputs such as labour, fertilizer and pesticides. Trees and idea of forest gardening play a big part. Increasingly the principles of permaculture are being adapted for homes, even in the cities and suburbs. Travis Philp, a trained environmental and eco management technician, is a resident of the Greenshire Eco Farm where he manages the permaculture garden beds and looks after crop planting, maintenance, harvest and the weekly filling of food boxes. He will show you how to incorporate the principles of permaculture around your home or farm.
(Hugelkultur images courtesy Paul Wheaton, http://richsoil.com/hugelkultur.)
- Permaculture – Hugelkulture (milumaca.wordpress.com)
- International Permaculture Day May 5th! (gatherandgrow.org)
- The No Dig, No Till Garden (permaculturecottage.wordpress.com)
- International Permaculture Day (stroudcommunityweb.com)
- Farming the Woods author Steve Gabriel on “The Permaculture Podcast” (farmingthewoods.com)
- Taking Permaculture to The Next Level (theurbanecovillage.wordpress.com)
- Permaculture: the link between sustainable living and environmental conservation – Part 2 (wordfromthesavanna.com)