• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies living kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education experiences global resources the cider press projects digital market permies.com all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Nicole Alderman
  • raven ranson
  • paul wheaton
  • Jocelyn Campbell
  • Julia Winter
stewards:
  • Burra Maluca
  • Devaka Cooray
  • Bill Erickson
garden masters:
  • Joylynn Hardesty
  • Bryant RedHawk
  • Mike Jay
gardeners:
  • Joseph Lofthouse
  • Dan Boone
  • Daron Williams

Ideas about growing all your own food  RSS feed

 
pollinator
Posts: 236
Location: Montana
53
forest garden trees
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I have my copy of "Buffalo Bird Woman's Garden" out lately and have been thinking a lot about three sisters gardening lately. Also have thought a lot about how to grow all your own food. Some of the most practical advice I have ever found I found last winter on the latter subject in an article written by Joseph Lofthouse. What and how many seeds to plant. I printed this one out. Also I am pretty sure I have seeds enough in my seed stash now for this scheme- I may be short on one or two. I have quite a lot of squash, corn, beans, peas, and fava seeds on hand right now.

https://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/survival-seed-banks-part-two-zbcz1312

So I reckon I can do this and it would be fun to try. Next year? Not sure I actually may need to cut back next year. One things for sure I'm doubling the space between the rows in my garden next year. Gotta fit the rototiller between them in case things get ahead of me! Lots of plants did remarkably well with minimal weeding though!
 
garden master
Posts: 4782
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
539
books chicken dog duck fish forest garden fungi homestead hugelkultur hunting pig
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Awesome goal, growing all of your own food is possible but it takes a lot more space than most people think.
For Wolf and I this comes out as 2 acres of gardens and orchards to be able to meet most of our nutritional needs, but we still need space for the filling out such as meat and milk.
The best advice I can give for this goal is to write down what you eat and how much of each item you eat per day, then multiply that by 365 to come up with how much is actually required to fill your needs for a full year.
The numbers might astonish you or they may just confirm your thinking already.

The three sisters is just one part of First peoples gardening strategies, there are others that go along with that one.
When you think about the three sisters, you see the relationship of those particular plants, this knowledge can be extrapolated to other plantings of multiples.

Kola Lofthouse has great knowledge and in gardening, knowledge is medicine and power is application of the knowledge.
He is willing to share his knowledge as are all of us here.

Redhawk
 
William Schlegel
pollinator
Posts: 236
Location: Montana
53
forest garden trees
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Bryant it sounds like you are a pro at this! 2 acres is a pretty good size garden. I just calculated my current garden at about 2,500 square yards.

There are 4,840 square yards to an acre. So my current garden is about 1/2 acre.

The reason I am using square yards is there is a diagram in the back of "Buffalo Bird Woman's Garden" in which dimensions are given for 7 gardens. Those gardens ranged from about 792 square yards to about 6,510 square yards with an average of about 2,981 square yards. Which would make my garden a little less than average if I devoted the entire thing to serious food production (instead of endless tinkering).



A modern estimate in an widely circulated infographic suggested that about 2 acres could feed a family of four. That will of course vary widely with productivity of the land and intensity of gardening.

I have a family of three two adults and a ten month old baby. I have about 3.25 acres of easily accessible arable land on my 8 acre parcel and about 0.5 acres of arable land on the other side of my hill. The hill grows a mix of wild plants.

 
Bryant RedHawk
garden master
Posts: 4782
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
539
books chicken dog duck fish forest garden fungi homestead hugelkultur hunting pig
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
hau William

I like the sq. Yd. measurements, especially since you can differentiate actual growing space from overall space (walkways and the like).
I recently measured the orchard area, it covers about 3500 sq. yds. currently and within that area there will end up some garden beds between trees.
Most of our fruit trees are full size trees and when grown they will shade a lot of ground, but at that point that ground will be perfect for growing herbs that need some shade in our Southern climate.

The way we are building our homestead is to add some garden space every year, working up to the size where we don't need to use grocery stores for anything except what we can't grow.
Soil building is always one of our key items and I have found that defining a new space and using it for straw bale gardening the first year, really gives the soil a jump start since the straw ends up as composted in place.

We have around 50 sq. yards for tomatoes which mostly become sauce or are canned whole, some go to friends that have requested them.
We are still setting up squash beds and beet beds (we go through a lot of beets and squash) we also need one or two more bean bed to be able to grow the varieties we like (currently we have two).

I try to build our beds long but thin so all plants are easy to get to as we get older, this also seems to keep snakes from making their home where we can't see them.
Paths are set up as permanent spaces for us, since that means less maintenance over time. Most of our beds are raised by the way, makes it easier for our old bodies.

Redhawk
 
Posts: 170
Location: Denmark 57N
8
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I love the idea of growing all ones own food, but I'm afraid in practice I would get so so bored, there's so much stuff that my climate will not allow me to grow outside a greenhouse or in some cases (peppers) without suplimental heat inside a greenhouse, That I just wouldn't do it. I do however know that I could grow enough vegetables and potatos for us two on way under half an acre, simply by scaling up what we already grow on a much smaller amount of land. That doesn't include and animal products however so it would not be a complete diet. I'm afriad my measurements are in meters and kg but the last three years we've averaged around 4kg per sqr meter without any sucession planting and with a lot of weed pressure (oops) I would think that can be pushed up to 5-6kg per meter with better usage, and I'm going to find out this year as we're upping the space from 250sqr meters up to 600! We should however be selling around 10 boxes a week from that, it would be way to much for two people to eat.
 
pollinator
Posts: 2131
300
books cat chicken duck rabbit transportation trees woodworking
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
For my family of 6, (2) adults and (4) kids 4-12, we have found the actual growing of the food is not the hard part, it is the preservation of the food that has proven difficult on a larger scale.

Canning works well, but it takes a lot of time, and that is difficult in the middle of summer when running hither and thither with the kids, running a farm, and even wanting to do it when canning produces so much heat on already hot days. Even then the canning supplies can be expensive when getting up to so much volume. Then...and this may seem trivial at first...but having storage room for so many canning jars of food is becoming increasingly problematic.

We do not have a root cellar yet, but have put off building one because our efforts at cold storage is not really working. We use our mud room which is always cold and has no windows, but bushels of apples will be fine for awhile...then...we find a half bushel of apples rotted. Same with a bushel of peaches. We want to invest in a root cellar, but are kind of afraid to because what is the sense to spend time and money building one if we still are going to experience loss of food? We have had a lot of luck preserving potatoes, and here we can grow them well, but sadly we can buy potatoes cheaper than we can produce them ourselves. We still grow them, but it would be nice to grow our own food AND save money.

Freezing food food works well for us; it does take away some of the taste however, and freezer space is always an issue, but is quick and dependable, so we use this method a lot to preserve food.

The point of all this is, not to say one method is better than another, or not to look at each method and find work-arounds, but to show that while a lot of people get really excited in all the ways of growing food (and that is okay, that is the exciting part), the part of growing food that often gets missed is how the food will be preserved once it is grown, slaughtered or gathered. There is nothing so frustrating as having to dump out two bushels of peaches into the compost pile because they rotted while in cold storage.

It is a two step process; how to grow your own food, but also how to preserve it. For us the latter part has proven to be more frustrating then the former.



 
Posts: 90
Location: Wealden AONB
1
bike books cat
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Yes - preservation of food is very problematic. I've just invested in a new chest freezer and an apple store (very small tool shed). But what to do with seasonal gluts? I'm not great on cooking / presering. I tend to eat raw. Eggs i can't use at the pace my chooks lay at. I give most of my eggs away. Apples and pears get given away as well.

My soil is horribly infertile, not really good for growing anything which is why it was so cheap and has historically been used for grazing and as a quarry. (Also iron ore extraction). The top soil is only a couple of inches deep before you hit sandstone. Saving grace is that there is a lot of water.

My orchard, (which is only 2 years old and yet to start producing fruit), is about an acre in size. I've planted other edibles around the edge, (again, too young to have started producing crops). I'm planning on planting more edibles this winter. Also extending my nut orchard.

I think if I want to become totally self sufficient, I will have to radically change my diet. I have had almost zero sucess with growing veggies. Even having built up the soil. I think to put any kind of fertility in the soil will take years. The trees I planted were planted in large holes with plenty of compost / organic matter. This should sustain them. I'll have to keep mulching with compost to improve the soil. At least I have plenty of leaf litter to go at.

I'm interested in your idea for a root cellar Travis. My worry is that where I am, the water table is very high. (or I am very low, almost sea level). Maybe I could build the cellar (at the top of the land), then dig a deeper drainage hole to take the water away to one of the ponds lower down.

Meanwhile, I'm still learning how to grow food. The raddishes did very well this year, problem, I really don't like raddishes. I thought I could persuade myself to, it just didn't work that way.
 
pollinator
Posts: 4339
Location: Anjou ,France
240
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
For me trying to do anything 100% is going to be a headache as growing my own tea chocolate and bannas is never going to happen . So my plan is simply each year to try to do more and more gradually increasing how much we have of each crop and the number of different crops , building soil and fertility . Same with preserving stuff , we are building up the amount we " can " pickle chutney , compote ,dry and stock plus move to perennials .

David
 
pollinator
Posts: 1793
Location: Wisconsin, zone 4
92
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Travis Johnson wrote:

It is a two step process; how to grow your own food, but also how to preserve it. For us the latter part has proven to be more frustrating then the former.



Same here.  I can easily grow 1000lbs of squash, but then what?  And that is just one food.  Growing is by far the easier part for me.  And much more enjoyable.
 
Skandi Rogers
Posts: 170
Location: Denmark 57N
8
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Abbey Battle wrote:
My soil is horribly infertile, not really good for growing anything which is why it was so cheap and has historically been used for grazing and as a quarry. (Also iron ore extraction). The top soil is only a couple of inches deep before you hit sandstone. Saving grace is that there is a lot of water.

My orchard, (which is only 2 years old and yet to start producing fruit), is about an acre in size. I've planted other edibles around the edge, (again, too young to have started producing crops). I'm planning on planting more edibles this winter. Also extending my nut orchard.

I think if I want to become totally self sufficient, I will have to radically change my diet. I have had almost zero sucess with growing veggies. Even having built up the soil. I think to put any kind of fertility in the soil will take years. The trees I planted were planted in large holes with plenty of compost / organic matter. This should sustain them. I'll have to keep mulching with compost to improve the soil. At least I have plenty of leaf litter to go at.

I'm interested in your idea for a root cellar Travis. My worry is that where I am, the water table is very high. (or I am very low, almost sea level). Maybe I could build the cellar (at the top of the land), then dig a deeper drainage hole to take the water away to one of the ponds lower down.


Couple of comments, I don't know how warm it is with you but I can just use a room in my barn as a root celler as I too have a very high watertable and any celler would very soon become a indoor swimming pool. It's not even insulated but hovers between 6 and 0C all winter, Potatos and root veg do fine in there as did my hams The vegies well there are a few that do not mind poor soil, like peas and most leafy veg not hearting cabbages though. I suspect raised beds may work but I cannot personaly see how anyone gets enough out of them to make much of a dent in a families needs.
 
Bryant RedHawk
garden master
Posts: 4782
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
539
books chicken dog duck fish forest garden fungi homestead hugelkultur hunting pig
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Travis, how are you storing those apples?

We have racks built so that there is only one layer per rack and air space between each rack.
The racks themselves are made with slatted bottoms so air can go through each layer as well as all around it.
Potatoes we put into sand same as carrots and beets, this keeps them separated and nicely firm all winter long.

My new root cellar (not dug yet) will be large enough that I will need at least 4 air exchange tubes maybe as many as 10, just depends on what the wife wants for size, part of this will be doored off for charcuterie and another space for cheese curing and aging.

 
Posts: 39
Location: San Martin, CA
3
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Travis, peaches incredibly perishable.  They are not an item that you can cold store at all, just doesn't happen.  I grew up in an area that produced a lot of stone fruit, primarily apricots.  It is now Silicon Valley.  Nevertheless, peaches were always sullfured and driec on wood trays historically.  You can dry peaches without sulfuring, but they generally will turn an unappealing brown.  The dried fruit you buy packaged in stores now days are industrially processed, processes primarily introduced by the Mariani family in the Santa Clara Valley (now "Silicon Valley").   The family moved most of their operations to California's Central Valley, but Andy Mariani has maintained a nice little orchard of specimen varieties in Morgan Hill, south of San Jose, the city adjacent to my burg.

Most people freeze, can or make jam with home grown peaches, or what is now happening more is let the gleaners clean the trees for food banks because everyone is busy living a Silicon Valley life.  I planted two apricot trees, a multigraft stone fruit tree, and a peach tree because I love canned stone fruit.  I bought a Camp Chef outdoor propane stove in anticipation of canning outdoors when the peaches are at the peak of ripeness.

I'm not sure that I can successfully root cellar potatoes and apples in my climate, but apparently they can be root cellared for several months under the right conditions.  We obviously have enough chill hours to get good stone fruit, but it's a rarity for it to snow here.  I planted heirloom apple and pear varieties for cider, drying and canning.  I'm not liking the apples from the grocery store now... I can't wait till my young trees start producing.

Meanwhile I am busy collecting pecans and black walnuts from the mature trees already on my property.  Will be kinda time consuming to shell and pick the nuts out....



 
William Schlegel
pollinator
Posts: 236
Location: Montana
53
forest garden trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Currently reading "Uses of Plants by the Hidatsa's of the Northern Plains" which is a new publication based on Gilbert Livingston Wilson's extensive unpublished notes.

Interesting! The editor thinks the original squash of the Hidatsa people was a pepo squash and that maxima squash came in during relatively modern times though he himself got some seed for maxima squash from some traditional Gardeners in the 1970s.

I grew Mandan squash a pepo landrace this year. Saved a lot of seeds if anyone wants to trade seeds for something. My maxima grex has Hidatsa, Arikara, Rio Lucio, Lofthouse, bitterroot buttercup, and uncle Dave's Dakota dessert- though I'm saving squash to packet so I often know what it's mom was like.

In Montana where I garden Painted Mountain flour corn which Dave Christenson bred in Montana seems to do the best for me. I've been gradually selecting my strain to have more blue ears because I like to add blue corn flour to my pizza dough instead of commercial cornmeal.

I tried Papa's Blue flour Corn from Bozeman MT via baker creek this year. It's also descended in part from painted mountain. It was almost the same as mine but more consistently blue.

I also tried Joseph Lofthouse's harmony flour corn it was taller and longer season. It irritated me because my painted mountain corn has trained me to expect ripe flour corn much earlier. I saved an ear to replant and I can see a few blue kernels that are crossed with mine. I suspect those kernels will be special.

I also regrew for the second time a row of Arikara white flour corn. It was similar to lofthouse and picked up some yellow kernels and a very few blue. I saved two ears of this to replant. 


I have my own grex of sweet corns. I used to grow Ashworth and Yukon Chief from garden city seeds. To these I added nuetta (upper Missouri tribes / fur trade), orchard baby (Oscar H. Will / 3 tribes of upper Missouri), and blue jade in 2010. I later added hooker's blue, and this year I added Yukon Supreme, Lofthouse Astronomy and Lofthouse high Carotene. It's a fun mix. Lofthouse is kind of long season, Yukon supreme is the shortest season by a hair- didn't keep any pure or manage to set aside any row to packet. Saved best few ears of lofthouse corns ear to packet. Lots of blue kernels from my corns contribution.

Didn't grow beans this year. Did in 2926 year. Emy Lou's Golden a discovery from the local seed co-op did best. I love my local seed co-op they try things and find things that do well for me! I have lots of bean seed to try and I should make this next (2018) a bean year. In 2017 I grew pseudobeans Favas, peas, garbanzos, and lentils. They can be planted in March- that works out great for growing without irrigation- neat!

The other crop the Hidatsa's grew was sunflower. I planted three kinds of sunflower from the three tribes of the upper Missouri this year plus some in a pollinator mix, some wild seeds, some from a packet my wife bought , and some volunteers from past years. I didn't get any seed picked so I hope they volunteer again.

Heartening back to the book I'm reading an important aspect of Hidatsa plant use was harvesting the many wild plants that grow nearby. They often used these plants less extensively than non-agricultural tribes but they were extremely important to adding variety to the diet! Christopher Nyerges also speaks of this potential in several of his books. One doesn't have to grow all their own food, medicine, and plant based material culture if sustainable foraging is also part of their life way. On my own 8 acre where I am largely free to do as I wish as long as I pay the government their annual toll, respect my neighbors, and abide somewhat by the noxious weed laws, only about 3 1/4 of the acres are suitable for tillage. That leaves 4 3/4 acres of interesting and sometimes edible and useful wild plants!

Just read a passage on the uses of sweet grass. Buffalo Bird woman spoke of the common uses and said it had sacred use as well. However she refused to detail the latter because she was not a Christian and therefore those things were still sacred to her. I can strongly empathize with her sentiments about that and about the sacred in general. Let's not speak further of those things in this public space but rather do so when we meet in person.

 
Posts: 23
Location: Ozark County, Missouri
3
  • Likes 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hey guys,

This is a big topic on our homestead. I think for us it comes down to 1) what grows well and abundantly in our climate 2) how can we each year put more perennial fruits and veggies in the ground to reduce future workload and increase future harvests 3) what are friends/community members/other permies etc growing in the area- who says each of us has to produce everything?

1. in our zone 6b and humid hot hot summers sweet potatoes do really well. They're high in vitamins and so tasty. Peruvian potatoes are another easy crop that are another good security crop. Greens tend to be a bit easier to get an abundance of. One of my favorite methods is to either let them go to seed in their area or save the seed and sow generously in edges and "understories" where I'm waiting for berries or fruit trees to take off. If you don't care about pure varieties, you can also let reseeded tomatoes do their thing. Even this reduced workload frees up time for other food endeavors.
2. Perennialize the landscape. Yes the returns take a while, but you're really putting one in the bank for your future self (and others) when doing this. Annual gardening is just so much more work in the long run! Fruits, veggies, nuts! The possibilities are endless! Cardboard and mulch!
3. Share the load. We have about 2 acres cleared, the rest are forest. Our good friends have pasture and goats. We tried goats this year and they don't really fit in our budding food forest. But who says we have to have the meat, milk, potatoes, veggies, etc? That abundance of squash someone mentioned earlier can be traded. Trade the abundances (even plan for them; you grow x, I'll grow y..). Truly I believe that we are stronger and more diverse together. Variety is the spice of life and it's good to get together, potluck and talk about future gleaning plans. We don't have to do it alone.
 
pollinator
Posts: 1108
Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
163
books forest garden rabbit solar tiny house woodworking
  • Likes 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Wren has hit upon one of the aspects of how my farm provides almost all our food. I say almost because we eat a few meals out with friends every month, eating foods we didn't produce ourselves. But if we had to, we could provide 100%....and still have variety.

Trade. Sell.

My location can grow some things really well, but zero when it comes to others. But I don't see that as a problem. No need to eat the same boring things over and over again. No need to deprive ourselves of variety from off the farm. I take some of our excess eggs, veggies, fruits, and meat and trade them for beef, fish, mouflon, milk, cheese, mangos, lychee, and other things that I can't or don't produce. I also trade for homemade prepared foods, such as soups, pies, jams, sauces, cheese.

I also sell not only my excess, but I've expanded to the point that I can grow a little to sell locally. I sell direct to individual homes,  at the local farmers market, and to a local restaurant.

I consider the items that I gain via trade, plus those that I buy with the money gained from selling to be part of my farm production for ourselves. For example, at the farmers market I will sell my green beans and potatoes then turn around and buy fish and breadfruit from other vendors with that money.

Luckily I don't have to do a lot of preservation. Most of what we eat can be grown or acquired year around. Somethings I need to store, such as turmeric, lilikoi, coffee, and other seasonal crops.

Two more things ......One - although the farm is now capable of providing for us 100%, it took years to get to that point. I started out slowly, making many mistakes, adjustments, and improvements along the way. So many people think that they can plant a garden and bingo, they're food independent immediately. It surely didn't work that way for me. Not only did the garden improve slowly, I gained the farming knowledge slowly, and it took years to get a trading system really functional. Two - we changed our diet to adjust to what was locally available.
 
gardener
Posts: 1997
Location: Central Oklahoma (zone 7a)
245
forest garden trees woodworking
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Another idea I have mentioned before. If, like most of us, you have constraints that make growing ALL your own food a bit much, a fun and satisfying thing to do is to study your grocery shopping lists for pain points that you CAN eliminate.  For me this has been herbs and especially herbal teas; I am still working on tomatoes, having learned to grow all I want in season but not yet the ridiculous surpluses I need to can and dry for the rest of the year. 

Not all experiments are quick and easy; I like to cook with smoked paprika, which is expensive (or at least the good stuff is).  I have made several runs at growing and smoking my own peppers; results so far are .. in progress.  Fundamentally I haven’t found a pepper with the right flavor yet that I can grow well.  But all mistakes get eaten!

Every time I figure out how to use my garden to take something off my shopping list, no matter how small, it makes me feel good.
 
Posts: 56
Location: Saskatchewan zone 2/3
7
  • Likes 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The year we first moved to this place (2011), we tried growing all of our own vegetables.  We failed.  The size of the space we needed was overwhelming, and quickly got out of hand.  We tried to grow too many varieties, some of which were not suitable for our climate.  We tried to grow exactly what we ate at the time, which included a lot of things that need a lot of fussing if they are to be grown in our region (especially peppers and tomatoes).  At harvest time, I ended up canning for weeks on end, working around a full time job, and did not get much sleep.  I was exhausted.  In the end, we abandoned that garden and decided to just grow flowers for a while.

We did plant a garden the next year (and every year thereafter), but it was much smaller, with fewer varieties of fewer things.  We moved our focus more to planting the orchard.

Over the years, we expanded our growing space, and now have two annual garden areas (though the combined space is still smaller than that original overwhelming garden), plus our squash patch, as well as perennial vegetables (asparagus and rhubarb), fruit trees (mostly not bearing yet), grape vines, and berry bushes. 

Our diet has been changing to reflect what grows well for us.  Before the age of 35, I had only ever eaten squash as pumpkin pie, with the odd spaghetti squash.  Now, we eat squash nearly every week in fall and winter - we've found a few types of squash that grow well for us, and taste good, so now we eat a lot of it.  We also grow and eat a lot of potatoes, beets, green beans, berries, and carrots. 

Fortunately, much of what we grow now is also easy to store in the root cellar or a cool room.  What doesn't store well, we eat a lot of in season, preserve a bit of for off-season (like freezing or pickling some beans), then wait for the season to come around again.  We don't try to eat everything all year - we gorge on strawberries in July, cucumbers and green beans in August, and potatoes and squash in winter. 

Our root cellar is a spectacular tool, and we wouldn't be without it.  Having said that, we live in Saskatchewan, Canada, where it frequently snows before Halloween, and doesn't generally melt before late March.  We keep our surplus eggs down there (even in the summer, it is cool enough to store them well), along with potatoes, carrots, beets, and apples.  Cabbage and turnips, too, though we don't normally grow them - we do trade for or buy them in bulk.  If we get milking goats again, we will likely store surplus milk down there, too. 

A lot of things don't store well at all, though, and even some of the things that do, don't like the humidity in the root cellar, and prefer a cool countertop (squash and onions, in particular).  You have to watch the varietal, too - some apples rot almost as soon as you pick them, while others store for 4-6 months;  you need to know your varietals.  Same with squash, onions, and even melons - some varieties store for quite a while, and many do not. 

We don't grow all of our own vegetables, but we don't buy squash, onions, or potatoes any more, and we eat a lot of these!  We occasionally buy frozen beans and peas, as we haven't worked out the optimal quantities yet, and we're self-sufficient in eggs and jelly/jam (which I make from wildcrafted berries and small fruit we grow).  We're not currently shooting for total self-sufficiency, but each year, we get better at matching our diet to what grows here, and finding varieties that work for us.

Here are the major things we've learned so far:  It is important to eat seasonally - for us, that means asparagus and strawberries in spring, cucumbers, green beans, raspberries, zucchini, and peas in the summer, and apples, squash, and root veggies in the fall and winter.  We don't always succeed at this, but it's a goal we're working on.  It is also important to minimize the work, which means sticking to mostly growing things that grow well in our region, and learning to eat and love those things (though I am determined to find a melon we can grow!).  That means that tomatoes and peppers just aren't going to be a huge part of our diet, unfortunately, unless we are willing to buy them - peppers, especially.  We still use a lot of tomato sauce, but we're moving away from it.  Finally, we're learning that it's easier to work up to things than trying to do it all in one fell swoop.  Since we abandoned the huge garden, we've actually made a lot of progress towards growing the majority of our own veggies, but we've done it in much smaller steps, and at a level of effort that we can sustain. 
 
gardener
Posts: 3473
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
811
  • Likes 7
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I am not an advocate of growing all of ones own food. I live in a community. I'm sure glad that Willa milks a goat, and that Amber raises eggs, and that Troy hunts deer, and that Jeremy fishes. and that Faye wildcrafts fruits and medicinals, and that Jim keeps bees, and that Chantel makes pickles, and that Julie grows celery, etc, etc, etc. I am delighted that they share that food with me.  I could go on and on naming the human beings in my village that are raising food, and improving my life because of it. I am very good at growing corn, beans, and squash. My neighbors are very good at producing different foods.
 
William Schlegel
pollinator
Posts: 236
Location: Montana
53
forest garden trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
While far below the level of growing all my own food my efforts in 2017 led to surpluses of tomatoes and squash especially. I went to the local farmers market a few times even though I was busy. Our local market is in need of building up and by participating as much as I could I hope I helped a little. While there I met others like me and traded a few squash for a few leeks. It's a start towards building community I wouldn't have if I didn't first try to grow more of my own food. I also walked up and down my block and gave each of my neighbors a squash. I gave squash to my friends and to my family. When I went visiting I packed as much squash with as I could. I gave lots of tomatoes and squash to the local food bank. I plan to give some tomato seed to the local seed library.

Still I could use more community. Anyone near Missoula want to help me eat some winter squash? We could give the rest of the squash seeds to the five valleys seed library- I have almost enough of the squash diversity saved for my own garden!
 
pollinator
Posts: 529
Location: Southern Arizona. Zone 8b
70
bee bike fish greening the desert solar woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
It seems to me that a greenhouse or aquaponics system would be the solution to many of the problems listed in this thread.
If it's setup to grow food year round then you'd need less land to grow your food, depending on where you live perhaps 1/2 to 1/4 of the space.  Plus, since you can harvest food year round, you wouldn't need to store as much of it, fresh picked salad in the middle of winter, mm!

Granted the cost goes up some, but this would be offset by savings in storage space, canning supplies, energy used for storage (canning, freezing, etc.)

FWIW, if you're considering a greenhouse...go big.  In general, the larger a greenhouse is, the cheaper it is per square foot/meter.  Also larger greenhouse tend to have more stable temperatures, they take longer to heat up/cool down.  I have little cold frames that if I'm not careful to open them up, can cook the plants during the winter and still drop down to almost ambient temperature overnight.
 
Dado Scooter
Posts: 39
Location: San Martin, CA
3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The problem with aquaponics is that it is as you said, high initial startup cost, and big learning curve in learning to balance the system. A big greenhouse is extremely expensive for a homesteader.  My dad had a commercial chrysanthemum greenhouse nursery, but the cost was justified and a good tax write off.  If you are a commercial grower, yes it would be worth it, but for a backyard homesteader,  NOT.  There is no way that the cost will be offset for not buying canning jars.... that is totally unrealistic.  I am enamored of the idea of aquaponics, but I think it works best in tropical climates because you don't have to worry so much about building a greenhouse around the system.  There are energy costs in pumps and heating.  Yes, I've seen the videos on YouTube about Growing Power in Milwaukee.   After several years of watching YouTubes on aquaponics, I decided to go the low tech route and spend my resources on developing a food forest and dog and horse proofing a vegetable garden.  Along with that, I need to change my diet from potato chips and pasta to squash and kale.

The food forest will also take time to fruit, pun intended.  I was lucky to acquire an acre with several pecan trees and a black walnut tree.  I bought the property in April 2013, and had no idea what kind of trees shaded the northwest front side of my house. Then the catkins came out.  Then I was panicking that they were black walnut trees and I would have trouble growing things there.   The ground underneath the trees was dead lawn. My property used to be a doggie day care kennel, and apparently the front yard were little doggie houses.  It was a drought year.  No nuts that year, but my niece picked up a tiny shriveled nut and it looked like a pecan. I started researching and trying to figure out how to give them zinc per the literature. 2014 I had gout and had grown an impressive amount of weeds, but I was able to harvest a meal or two of feral salsify.  2015 I was blessed with a stealth drop of wood chips underneath the trees, and I spread it over the dead weedy lawn.  That fall, I started to get a lot of pecans dropping on the driveway.  Last year I got more, but was lazy about picking it out of the mulch and had a carpet of pecan seedlings growing this year.  The wind finally blew off all the leaves on Saturday, and I am looking up into the trees and seeing tons of pecans up there.  I've already cleaned up a bunch of pecans off the driveway, putting them in mesh bags to hang off my shelving rack.  I never did figure out where to get zinc, so apparently there's enough!   I planted a bunch of filberts, currents, woodland strawberries, comfrey in the understory.  I had some oca growing, but a lot of it was covered by the stealth woodchip dump and I think drought and gophers got the rest.  I'll try oca again under the fruit trees.

I planted berries... raspberries and blackberries produced great the last two years, but I need to figure out how to deal with the stink bugs.  The blueberries and jostaberry died.  I think I grow them in containers in the future for their acidity needs. 

Have a bunch of fruit trees I've planted closely together in a couple of places in my property.  The ones I mulched last spring are doing fantastic, but they are in the ground only 2 years and haven't born any fruit yet... probably because I let my horses roam the property last winter when their pasture flooded and they are part goats.  I finally put in a fence this last July.

I put in a late summer vegetable garden after putting in the fence and would have gotten better production if I planted in May.  I cropped it out, and now I'm growing garlic, and multiplier alliums... potato onions, shallots, Egyption walking onions....  I planted a few 6-packs of crucifers... some in the planter and in the nice wood chip mulch underneath the baby fruit trees.    My next project is a raised bed for avocados...  I found a sweet frost free microclimate in my backyard for them, and will plant citrus around them as a windbreak.

2018 will have me building a chicken coop and buying a straight run of several breeds, keeping about 6 pullets for eggs, selling the remaining pullets, and consigning the roos to my tummy.  I did a lot of Zaycon meat canning this year, but I decided that I would rather have "dinner on demand" and butchering when I want a chicken dinner and bone broth.  Zaycon meat turned out to be just cheap conventional bulk meats.  It satisfied some "prepper" urges, but it didn't really make my taste buds that happy.   The chickens would certainly get a lot of their diet from kitchen and garden scraps.  I will probably get meat rabbits after that.  In my Zone 9b climate, I can have year round vegetables with just frost blankets.  I had a really nice crop of lettuce from my backyard in Redwood City in January years ago with just Reemay covering.  I'll be fencing more area and will experiment a little with grain crops. Meanwhile, I've got to get excited about that big bagful of quinoa I bought from Costco.....   Gotta change my diet. 

In Zone 9b I've been scratching my head about root cellaring without refrigerants.  I like canned and dehydrated fruit, so I think that's the way I'll go...  I'm going to eventually build a solar dehydrator so my summer crops could also be dehydrated "off grid".   I planted peaches, cherries and apricots that are particularly good for canning.  I'm in a prime stone fruit growing area.

Fermentation is also a skill I want to learn.  Healthy probiotics and a good way to store crops.
 
Posts: 16
Location: Garden Valley, Idaho
fungi hunting
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Once again, I'd like to advocate for Fungi ! Super nutritional/medicinal and they can be grown in any climate (indoors), take less time to fruit than vegetables, and don't require lifelong "soil building" to get good yields. Grow them on waste wood, cardboard, straw, old clothes, grain that the pests got to... the list goes on and on. Not to mention, if you're growing vegetables - nothing will build soil faster than fungi. Adding the right fungi to your compost pile can speed things up exponentially. They can also be used to remediate contaminated soils. The symbiotic relationships between plants and fungi are so integral to good soil, they behave as one organism (see Glomeromycota).

Plus, they're very easy to preserve. Almost all mushrooms can be dried (and powdered). They also have something that most vegetables (outside of grains and legumes) don't have - high protein content (if you're into the whole "protein thing".

Most people will probably say " Yeah, but I don't like mushrooms" - but almost every person I've heard say this has only tried one or two mushrooms, usually poorly prepared. If you like meat, I'll guarantee you'd like the right (to your palate) mushroom. If you don't like meat - or don't eat it for whatever reason - mushrooms should be your "go to" protein. Many of us live in climates where "growing all of your own food" is either not a possibility or limits you to a very basic, un-diversified diet.

 
Posts: 228
Location: New Hampshire
18
bee chicken food preservation forest garden hugelkultur
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
  I am really glad I learned to can, dehydrate, freeze, and cook from scratch before I started planting a large garden.   That way I could deal with the harvest and adjust my garden plan depending on the need to have a crop all at once or succession planted to stretch the harvest times.   We also eat seasonally to take advantage of what grows well in Northern New England.

We have 2 freezer chests and there are only 2 of us in my household.  We are not trying to grow our own meat but we do buy it from local farmers by the whole or half of an animal.  That is what is filling one freezer chest. The other one is full of fruits and veggies from the garden. 

While my basement is perfect for storing winter squash we do want to add a root cellar in the basement with a chill bot for back up in the summer. We could put it in the yard but I want the convenience of dealing with snow to cook dinner.   We will need this in a couple of years once the fruit trees and other perennials come into their full production.

We have also tried to find perennials that don't all ripen at once.  Having early, mid and late season varieties of fruits and veggies is wonderful.  I expands the fresh eating season and reduces waste when life gives you a bad week when you don't need it.   We have laying hens to consume excess production and garden waste.
We can quite a bit but need to step that up going forward. I water bath and pressure can and I want to do more of this going forward.  It is time consuming but out busy season is the first quarter of the year when my husband both mentor an FIRST FRC Robotics team.  Having easy to heat and eat meals that time if the year is a game changer. Plus is will get more food out of the freezers.

Dehydrating is something I start in the spring and work on getting herbs in jars all season long.  
I do some fermenting too.  Having the root cellar will make it easier to do large batches and store them.  

One of the big things to consider is the work level in dealing with all the production.  Do you have the time and energy to do the work.   Could you still manage it if your health declined?  This is where I am now.  I kid around it is a full time job keeping me and my husband fed.   I have some very severe dietary restrictions and I have to cook from scratch and it  helps but I worry about not being able to garden some day so we have to design our  system  with that in mind.   Food processors, motorized food mills, and a huge assortment of kitchen gadgets saves me time, strain, and energy so I keep cooking.  While a good knife and cutting board may work for some I need more help.   

We have been slowly expanding the garden and the production. This has been a good move since my dietary needs have changed it has allowed us to adapt the garden to my needs. It has also given us time to deal with all the food so we have it over the winter.

 
Peter VanDerWal
pollinator
Posts: 529
Location: Southern Arizona. Zone 8b
70
bee bike fish greening the desert solar woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Dado Scooter wrote:The problem with aquaponics is that it is as you said, high initial startup cost, and big learning curve in learning to balance the system. A big greenhouse is extremely expensive for a homesteader.  My dad had a commercial chrysanthemum greenhouse nursery, but the cost was justified and a good tax write off.  If you are a commercial grower, yes it would be worth it, but for a backyard homesteader,  NOT.  There is no way that the cost will be offset for not buying canning jars.... that is totally unrealistic. .



First I didn't say the savings for canning jars alone would totally offset the cost, I said that ALL of the storage costs (storage room, canning supplies, energy usages, etc.) would 'offset' the cost, although perhaps not completely.  And I'm not avocating eliminating all storage, just some of it.

As to the cost of a greenhouse, I suppose it depends on what kind of greenhouse you buy.  I put up a 20' x 96' "hoophouse" type greenhouse for my mom about 10 years ago, I don't recall the exact amount but I remember thinking it was a lot cheaper than I expected, plus that's a lot larger than most families need (she was starting up a nursery).  We just had to replace the plastic on it this year, that cost a few hundred dollars.

I just checked and you can buy an 18' x 50 green house for $1,086:
https://www.mortonproducts.com/page.cfm/1508

I'd imagine that would be large enough for most families.  Aquaponics could be added on later, if desired.

And it doesn't even have to cost that much.  I have been slowly collecting patio doors, large windows and other materials for a couple years now.  I get them free off Craig's List.  When I have enough I plan on building something similar to a Chinese style green house, I expect my costs will be well under $200.

P.S. I'm not saying a greenhouse is for everyone, just that it's a possible solution and worth considering.

 
Dado Scooter
Posts: 39
Location: San Martin, CA
3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
First of all, the link posted showed only the frame and components.  Granted it's a large chunk of the equation, but there are other components that need to be added and even if you're using your own labor, they are significant costs.

Hoophouse is a hoophouse. They are great season extenders.  We have a lot of commercial hoophouse growers in my area, but they are only growing seasonal crops like nursery 6-packs and berries.  They push the seasons, but they don't go year round, like you would have to do for an aquaponics system.

The big part of the nitrogen cycle requires a narrow temperature range in order to function properly from what I've researched.  You don't get that kind of temperature control in a hoophouse.  A hoophouse prevents crops from freezing (most of the time) and that's about it.  If you are having big diurnal fluctuation of temperatures, it might be requiring a lot of opening and closing of the hoophouses.

A greenhouse can be more tightly temperature controlled, but it comes at more cost.  My dad's last greenhouse energy bill was nearly $4K/month during the winter in 1976.  He used steam pipes heated from an old oil burning boiler to heat his greenhouses and had to use incandescent light bulbs to trick the chyrsanthemum's bloom cycle.  You can see now why there is no more chyrsanthemum growing in our area, the business got driven to central and south America.  Plus he happily retired because he had acreage in what is now Silicon Valley.   Sure, there are better ways to heat and power a greenhouse now using solar, but adding enough juice to power pumps and temperature automation, venting and fans would definitely add to the initial costs and set up time, as well as time spent researching and engineering a passive heated greenhouse.

A passive solar greenhouse is in my future plans, but it will be small so I don't have to permit it in my building code intensive location.   It will be built with passive solar gain in mind, but I'm also going to put in a cob oven in it.  I need to cover the cob oven anyway, so it's going to be solid roofed in the back part of it with a cob wall, and the rest of it will be greenhouse.  I'll probably going to make some kind of removable glazing so I can take it off and install shadecloth or blackout so I can have a cool workspace in our hot summer.  I might indulge in a small aquaponics set up but I probably won't have enough room in it to do enough to supply all my food.   I'm all for those people who want to do aquaponics commercially. however, I don't see much bragging about how much food they actually produce.  Several years ago there were several organizations in California promoting classes in aquaponics, a few YouTubes about new commercial aquaponics projects, and a new aquaponics venture built in an existing greenhouse rental space in Half Moon Bay.   The commercial greenhouse operation in Watsonville apparently failed, but it sounded like they wanted to monocrop watercress!  Norcal Aquaponics apparently is consulting in Costa Rica and future classes are not on the website.  Fishnet Aquaponics has not shown classes on his website either.  A couple of years ago, he was selling fish and classes.  Nada now, but I think he's doing stuff elsewhere. There are a lot of school builds for aquaponics, so who knows, things may change in the next generation and I'll change my tune.   But again, this is lower in my priority to becoming food supply independent than the home garden, food forest and animal husbandry.  It will just be icing on the cake.

http://ucfoodsafety.ucdavis.edu/files/198180.pdf
 
Dado Scooter
Posts: 39
Location: San Martin, CA
3
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
P.S.  I think I spoke too soon about the hoophouses.  I know that hoophouses will make the plants happier in cold temps and not just prevent freezing!  Just sayin' that the temperature control would take more than just putting up a hoophouse even in my temperate climate.
 
pollinator
Posts: 322
Location: SoCal USA
32
bike cat dog tiny house trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Using a hoop house to cover a walipini gets your plants deeper into the soil to mitigate temperature extremes, and if you place your compost piles inside it during the winter to keep it "cooking", that heat is shared with the space as well. You could also look at placing thermal mass along the north side, perhaps black water storage filled from rain catchment which is used for watering the plants, and the water would help with nighttime heating if your area gets winter sun. And a more active heating option would be to add a RMH to the space to provide radiant heat, but one must be careful with proper venting of exhaust gasses outside the space. If you add a lower walking area like mike oehler's greenhouse design so that the coldest air can drop below the grow beds, then the plants will last a bit longer still.

Of course each of these steps adds expense to create, but also provides more home-grown food throughout the year. If you switch to cold weather crops, then you have a greater chance of growing through the winter and providing at least some of your calories fresh from the vine.
 
Peter VanDerWal
pollinator
Posts: 529
Location: Southern Arizona. Zone 8b
70
bee bike fish greening the desert solar woodworking
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
In my experience there are two broad categories of people.  Those who look for problems, and those who look for solutions.  Regardless of which type you are, you will generally find what you're looking for.

One of the simplest ways to moderate temperature in a green house (and hoop houses most certainly are "green houses") is to add lots of thermal mass.  When it comes to thermal mass, it's hard to beet plain old water.  Even a moderate sized auqaponics setup has a lot of water, hundreds or even thousands of gallons of it.

One of the things my folks did early on was to dig a pit 2-3 feet deep and put a shallow hoop house above it.  This not only reduces the materials needed, but further helps moderate temeprature by using the mass of the earth surrounding the greenhouse.

A chinese style greenhouse (I don't think they invented the idea, but it's frequently called that) only has clear glazing on the south wall (or north in the southern hemisphere).  The other three walls and part of the roof are typically insulated.   The side opposite the glazing is often bermed over with dirt to help insulate and provide mass.

At night they typically unroll some kind of thermal blanket (often made of straw, etc.) down the sloped glazing, this further insulates the greenhouse at night.



http://www.lowtechmagazine.com/2015/12/reinventing-the-greenhouse.html


I'm thinking of using the 'bubble wrap' type solar covers for swimming pools as the insulating blanked.  Since it will be rolled up during the daytime, you can keep the UV rays off of it and it should last for years, possibly decades.

As I said, it might not work for everyone (although this style seems popular in Canada for year round growing) but, in my opinion, it's certainly worth considering.
 
Dado Scooter
Posts: 39
Location: San Martin, CA
3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Building a greenhouse or not has a lot to do with people's individual context.  It's not a matter of looking for problems vs. solutions.  Basically, I don't need a greenhouse to have fresh food year round so I am not looking at an aquaponics set up to supply all my food needs, so why put in the time and expense right now.  My problem is that I don't have unlimited time or money to spend on planning an aquaponics set up, so the solution is not to do it!!!

My greenhouse will be pretty much passive solar with a cob wall on the north side.  I was thinking about a water trough to the south with goldfish or mosquito fish which are less problematic with temperature variations.  It will have a manure bed since I need to put that someplace anyway.  I want to make it a nice place to hang around and keep a few frost tender plants in it over winter.  I don't NEED these plants, because I have plenty of other citrus that do okay with a little frost.  I don't NEED to be growing goldfish, but I have to grow something in that trough if I want to do aquaponics.  Besides I don't want to breed mosquitoes.  But I'm not anticipating it to be a high production enterprise and it won't be big enough to supply a lot of my food needs.  Maybe a few winter tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers.  Hence, it's just the frosting on the cake, and I am definitely not spending too much on it buying a commercially made greenhouse.

In a more northern climate I might be more inclined to put in more of my time and resources into a greenhouse aquaponics system.  There it makes total sense.  That's when the conversation of a larger greenhouse, with a more engineered structure and systems comes to mind. $$$$ to engineer and build a structure for snow load.  I don't think an Oehler sized greenhouse would supply a whole lot of food, but could be nicely supplemental during the winter.

If I had a southern slope, I'd build my greenhouse into a slope.  My land is bottomlands and I get standing water in the back where my horses lives when it rains.  So no in ground greenhouse for me.  I don't want to have the expense of flood proofing a space so my greenhouse doesn't become a water pit.   So, in some ways, you DO have to identify problems so you can avoid or mitigate them early. 
 
Dado Scooter
Posts: 39
Location: San Martin, CA
3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I have been watching Curtis Stone's YouTubes.  Yes, he grows over winter in Canada.  But if you look at his recent vids, he is shutting down the hoop houses for the winter.  He decided that his plastic covered greenhouse wasn't worth the effort of heating the coming months for marginal crops.  


Only his mondo-engineered greenhouse is remaining in production.   
 
Peter VanDerWal
pollinator
Posts: 529
Location: Southern Arizona. Zone 8b
70
bee bike fish greening the desert solar woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Dado Scooter wrote:
If I had a southern slope, I'd build my greenhouse into a slope.  My land is bottomlands and I get standing water in the back where my horses lives when it rains.  So no in ground greenhouse for me.  I don't want to have the expense of flood proofing a space so my greenhouse doesn't become a water pit.   So, in some ways, you DO have to identify problems so you can avoid or mitigate them early. 



I absolutely agree with you there.  One of the keys to success is properly stating the problem.  For example, if one states the problem as "I want to be self sufficient and generate all the energy my household uses" then your chances of success are fairly high.  On the other hand if you state the problem as "I want to generate all the energy my household uses with a 1ft diameter turbine mounted on my chimney" then your chances of success are pretty much zip.

In this thread the original problem statement was excellent "How do I grow all my own food".  This is a problem that can be solved, however due to the nature of the world we live in and to the differences in individuals, there is not going to be any universally "right" solution to this problem.

In the context of this original problem statement I offered the possibility of using a greenhouse and/or aquaponics setup as potential solution to some of the issues mentioned above. As I have said numerous times this might not be a good solution for everyone.
Your statement that there was no way a greenhouse would work for a "backyard homesteader" is what I took issue with.  I offered several ideas on ways to reduce costs and increase effectiveness of greenhouses, ideas that have been PROVEN to work for others.  Your assertion that my ideas are worthless because they won't work for you doesn't change the fact that the have worked for others and will likely work for some of the people that might read this thread.
 
master steward
Posts: 4869
Location: Pacific Northwest
1338
cat duck fiber arts forest garden homestead hugelkultur kids cooking wood heat
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hey, Dado, did you used to post on the Mark's Daily Apple forums? My husband is "Knifegill." He hasn't been on there since they closed his My Little Pony thread, and it looks like they closed the forums entirely now. Craziness. Anyway, welcome to permies!



And now, speaking with my Mod Hat on, here's a reminder for everyone that we post our opinions and reasons for those opinions, and refrain from debating other people's opinions, or talking about what we think of them. Let's stay on topic and not verge into "flame war" territory. I think we can get back on topic without probation posts. This paragraph will self-destruct in two days.



I love all the knowledge shared in this thread. I had no idea there were so many ways to make greenhouses. It makes me want to experiment with a small one and see if it does any good. Something like 7 years ago, my husband saved a bunch of windows that were going to get tossed at his old work. They're just sitting in our garage, maybe we can finally put them to use!
 
Posts: 8
Location: geraldton, ontario
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Before we set out on our quest for self-reliance we researched the forums a lot seeking ideas for all kinds of things. One topic that we were discouraged by was the question --how much of peoples’ food needs were being supplied by their gardens/farms? Some of the forum regulars that we’d expected to be the most self-sustaining turned out to be only marginally so. The numbers that were given were also very uncertain and based on no real measurements. Knowing how difficult it is to track the amounts of home-grown food that we include in our diet, and being determined to work toward feeding ourselves with as little commercial “food” as possible, we decided to simplify the measuring process by setting a goal of feeding ourselves for one week with exclusively home-grown or wild-harvested food. If successful, we can then comfortably say that we’ve accomplished a 2% rate of self-reliance and increase our goal for the next year and the next, until we hit our limit. 2% does sound pretty unimpressive, but the reality of it is quite daunting. Regardless, the preparations so far are going well and we’re looking forward to “the week” which will likely be sometime this fall.    
 
garden master
Posts: 1995
Location: Northern WI (zone 4)
327
books food preservation hunting solar trees woodworking
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi Renee, another way that you might want to consider is to measure X meals per week that are nearly all from your homestead.  One week of eating is great but I find it's easier to supply less food more often instead of a single binge. 

Now that our garden is cranking, we're eating a fair bit from our bounty.  Last night we had chicken salad, green beans and kale chips.  The ingredients we imported were mayo, a bell pepper (which we will have in the garden in a few weeks), olive oil and some spices.  Stuff we provided was chicken, leeks, kale, tomato, green beans and onion. 
 
pollinator
Posts: 643
Location: northwest Missouri, USA
54
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
When planning to produce as much food as possible for the household’s dietary needs, there is one thing that people often forget. We must change our own mindset about eating. The main factor in this is that we must eat seasonally. There is hint of this in some of the previous posts, but a call out of this shift of mind is important.

As already mentioned, food preservation is critical and I believe anyone looking to produce most of their own food should master the skills of food preservation. This isn’t just canning, it’s drying, cellar storage, freezing, fermenting, curing, salting, smoking, jerking, etc.

But, we must shift our minds and embrace the idea that we will be eating differently in December than we will be in July. That may seem like a no brainer to say, but you’d be surprised how people don’t deeply consider this fact. Since most of the world lives far enough away from the Equator to experience seasons we should open our minds to seasonal eating. Where I live, I shouldn’t expect to eat fresh sweet corn in January and I shouldn’t expect to eat fresh lettuces in late July and early August. Canned or frozen or fermented? Sure. Fresh, not really.

For some, this takes a shift in mind because many of us have grown up buying whatever we want in the produce section of the supermarket for longer periods of the year than it grows locally. I have eaten a lot of watermelon in the winter, but that was shipped from a warm climate zone hundreds of miles from me. That’s not eating seasonally.

I have seen too many people doing calorie calculations and thinking of growing a few items upon which to live and most burn out and their grocery list reverts back to what it was before their decision to produce their own food. Without the shift in thinking to eating seasonally to your local context, efforts to live on what you can produce can be less than happy outcomes. Think more like a European peasant as far as diet is concerned and that may help lead you to thinking more successfully about producing your own food.
 
pollinator
Posts: 1522
101
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Eating to sustain yourself vs eating based on your wants
 
Renee Belisle
Posts: 8
Location: geraldton, ontario
1
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thanks Mike. We should clarify that we’re integrating home-grown foods into our daily meals on a regular basis and that the concept of the ‘local food only week’ is to add another level of awareness to our attitude toward food.

Dan, we really like your comments. Much of our motivation for this is to rewire our brains and to interrupt the reliance we have on the grocery store. When the food we grow is treated as a supplement to a mainly corporate/factory fed diet it is easy to lose sight of our goals. The week that we are preparing for is already producing results in terms of how we think. We’ve also become far more aware of the wild edibles that are all around us and plan to integrate more into our meals. Our solar dehydrators are running steadily and we’re in the process of building a PAHS style root cellar/basement. We’re still very early in the process of developing our growing areas with a focus on mostly perennial trees and shrubs, but in the mean time we’ve got vegetables, berries, potatoes, etc growing. We’re also trying to rewire our food attitudes away from novelty and exotics toward local, seasonal and practical.     
 
I'm gonna teach you a lesson! Start by looking at this tiny ad:
Binge on 17 Seasons of Permaculture Design Monkeys!
http://permaculture-design-course.com
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!