Throughout the human history, people have managed to feed themselves, either by fishing, hunting, gathering and/or subsistence farming. Now, with large-scale food production, gardening is often only a hobby. But growing one’s own food could mean increased security, health and enjoyment. Since the details of growing your own food depend on your unique locale, here’s a general overview to get you started.
Determine what crops you can raise in your location
Obvious factors include climate, soil, rainfall, and of course, available space. A fast and fun way to learn what grows well in your climate is to visit a nearby farm or garden. Here are some details to ask seasoned growers about or investigate yourself:
- Climate. Some locales only have a brief growing season, such as Northern Europe and Africa. This means growing quick producing plant varieties that can be harvested and stored for the winter. Other areas have year-long warm weather, where fresh vegetables and grain can be harvested on demand.
- Soil. Depending on the type you have available, you may expect very high yields from a large area, or meager yields from small areas. The best plan to follow is to plant a food crop which flourishes in your conditions as a staple, and use surplus land to grow “luxury” foods that require more fertilization and effort.
- Rainfall. No plants thrive with minimal rainfall, so most food crops require substantial amounts of water from irrigation or rainfall. Consider the normal rainfall rate for your area, and the availability of irrigation when choosing crops. If you live in a dry area, consider collecting rainwater.
- Space. If plenty of space is available, you may be able to grow plenty of food using conventional methods, but where space is limited, you may have to look at other techniques, including hydroponics, container gardening, sharecropping, and vertical gardening.
Understand how a growing season plays out
Growing food is more than just planting seeds and waiting for a harvest. Below, in the “Growing” section, is a typical sequence of steps in growing a single crop of one plant. You will need to prepare each different plant crop basically the same way, but when you have prepared the soil for planting, you can plant as many different crops as you like at one time.
Become familiar with the different types of food crops
We often think of the vegetables we see in the produce section of a market as the garden vegetables, and in a sense, this is true, but to truly grow your own food, you need to consider your whole diet. This is a general list of the types of food you will want to consider growing.
- Vegetables. This includes legumes, leafy vegetables, root vegetables, corn (a grain, looked at more closely later), and vining vegetables like squash, cucumbers, melons, and pumpkins. Try these as they provide many essential nutrients and vitamins.
- Fruits. Most people understand that fruits are a great source of vitamin C, but they also contribute many other vitamins and minerals to your diet, as well as offering a broader variety of taste to enjoy. Fruits also can often be preserved by drying or canning, so refrigeration is not required to store your surplus.
- Grains. Growing grains is not what most people envision when they think of growing their own food, but grains are a staple in most diets. They are filled with carbohydrates and fiber, and can be stored easily for long periods of time. In many early civilizations, and in some countries today, grain is the primary foodstuff for the population.
Growing our own groceries might be actually the only way of healthy living for many of us around the globe. If the Dervaes family can do it while living in the busy city of Los Angeles, I think you can do it to!
The Dervaes family live on 1/10th of an acre, 15 minutes by car from downtown L.A. At a first glance, there is nothing peculiar about it. But what is crazy about it is that they manage to maintain a sustainable and independent urban farm in this tiny piece of land. Animals included!
In a year they produce around 4,300 pounds of veggies, 900 chicken eggs, 1000 duck eggs, 25 lbs honey, and pounds of seasonal fruit. THERE ARE OVER 400 SPECIES OF PLANTS GROWING ON THEIR FARM!
Yes! They have almost everything they need to ‘live off the land,’ as they say. From beets to bees. From chickens to chickpeas.
What the family does not need for their daily diet, they sell from their porch, making some $20,000 a year! Local organic food is so popular that they don’t have any problems finding customers. Even chefs from restaurants seek their produce and animal products.
Here’s the video… Enjoy!