The 12 Essential Steps to Self-Sufficiency in the Garden

A self-sufficient garden provides all or a large amount of the vegetables and fruits your family eats. Surprisingly, it has been demonstrated repeatedly that this doesn’t require large amounts of outdoor space or a homestead, and people have turned the ordinary suburban backyard into one that can provide a bounty of healthy and delicious food. Even if total self-sufficiency is not your goal, these tips can help you maximize your yields.

Planning

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Everything starts with a plan. Assess your space, climate, and resources. Determine what you want to grow and when to sow these plants. A well-thought-out plan is the first step toward a productive garden. This is also one of the most exciting parts. I recommend you sit down with a pencil and some graph paper and draw out your space as a way to help you visualize the final goal.

Soil Health

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Healthy soil is the foundation of a self-sufficient garden and healthy plant. Test your soil to understand its needs, adding organic matter and natural amendments to improve its structure, fertility, and water retention. Embrace no-till gardening, composting, and cover crops to maintain and enhance soil health that is in poor shape.

Sometimes you need to spend a season nurturing the dirt first.

Composting

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Composting turns kitchen scraps, some animal waste, and yard waste into gold. It reduces waste and provides a rich, natural fertilizer for your garden, closing the nutrient loop in your backyard.

If you have backyard chickens and ducks, consider the deep-litter method.

Succession Planting

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Maximize your garden’s productivity by planting new crops as others are harvested. Staggering plantings of quick-growing vegetables means you can have a continuous supply of plants.

Selective Sufficiency

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Start small and focus on a few key crops that grow well in your area and meet your dietary needs. Specializing can lead to better care, higher yields, and more efficient use of your space and resources.

We make a lot of soups and bone broth for example, so having carrots and onions just makes sense. Pick crops that store well and can last you throughout the winter.

Maximizing Nutrition

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Choose nutrient-dense crops and varieties to maximize your garden’s potential. Growing a diverse range of vegetables makes or a balanced diet and reduces the need for external food sources. Focus on the most expensive crops too, what costs the most in grocery stores in your area?

Choose Storage Crops

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Plant crops that store well, such as potatoes, onions, squash, and beans. Pick varieties specifically bred for long-term storage. There are varieties of squash that can be stored for up to two years! These crops can be turned into soups, stews — and more — all winter long.

Preservation & Canning

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Learn preservation techniques like canning, drying, and fermenting to extend the life of your harvests. Preserving food at its peak ensures you have access to fruits and vegetables long after their growing season ends. When winter comes my pantry is stocked with ready-made meals and prepped ingredients from my garden.

Adding Perennials

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Incorporate perennial plants into your garden. Herbs, berries, and fruit trees may take longer to establish but require less maintenance over time and provide food for years to come.

Extend The Growing Season

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Use greenhouses, cold frames, and row covers to protect your plants from early and late frosts. These tools can significantly extend your growing season, allowing you to produce more from your garden longer.

Seed Saving

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Save seeds from your best plants to sow next season. This practice saves money and helps develop plant strains well-suited to your specific garden conditions.

Indoor Growing

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Explore indoor growing techniques for herbs and small vegetables. Using windowsills, grow lights, or hydroponics, you can grow food indoors year-round, further enhancing your self-sufficiency.

I grow herbs year-round because they are one of the most expensive things in the grocery store but one of the best ways to add variety and freshness into our diets all year.

The Best Perennials To Grow

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Read the Article: 19 Edible Perennials To Grow For Self-Sufficiency

Do You Know All These Berry Varieties?

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Read the Article: 35 Intriguing Berries to Grow in Your Garden

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