1. Start An Organic Garden, Expand It Every Year

Growing your own fruits and vegetables is crucial to providing the vitamins, minerals, and delicious flavors that make dinner something to savor. If you haven’t done it, start gardening now — no matter how much a novice you are — and learn how to manage your plants, rotate crops, and fight the pests local to your area. There are tons of resources and huge communities surrounding you that are willing to help you learn.

Once you get your fingernails dirty, it’s time to look at refining your garden practices. If you can’t rake in a harvest without using fertilizers and pesticides from the store — including “organic fertilizer” (which is not truly organic, as I wrote in an earlier article) or natural pest-deterrents — you’ve found a red flag on your journey to self-sufficiency.

Learning how to compost your land’s plant material (autumn leaves are one of many underutilized resources), recycle nutrients from your animals’ manure, and manage pests with what your land produces (wood ashes can deter slugs and snails, for example) is crucial to making your garden the most it can be.

It’s more important to focus on your skills as a gardener and preserver. A garden is only a step to self-sufficiency as far as you can maintain and re-grow it the next year, and preserve the harvest in enough quantity to get you through until the next season.

My advice is this — and it’s the advice I’m following myself. As I figure out how much garden space is needed to feed my own family, I focus on a few specific, key crops: tomatoes, leafy greens, squash, onions, and beans (or whatever is key to you) that your family eats the most. Find out how much you need in a year. Next spring, we’re going to be keeping a year-long record of how much we eat through the seasons to give ourselves an estimate for future planning.

Then, find out how to grow that amount in however much garden it requires … and you have your personal answer. Don’t worry if you don’t harvest enough this year. Work on getting more in consecutive years until you reach that goal. Does that sound like a huge project? It’s because it is! But don’t be intimidated. This step is a huge, exciting challenge, and it’s worth the attempt.

 

2. Learn How To Save Seeds, And Which To Save

Once you get your gardening game going, I recommend switching entirely over to heirloom crops. Not only do these old favorites produce some of the most visually stunning vegetables, they also produce seed that is true, unlike the popular hybrids that you often find at the store.

Being able to save seeds from the best of your plants every year will not only give you plants that are specially adapted to your specific climate, but it will also ensure that you can plant the fruits and vegetables you need with the supplies you have.

Part of the mental aspect self-sufficiency that I mentioned includes being “okay” with what that staple ends up being. If you grew up on wheat-based products, but can only get corn or millet to grow on your land, are you willing to relearn everything and start a new life with that dependable staple?

If you’re up for the paradigm shift, then you are that much closer to making it work. Studying the cuisines of cultures native to your area — or native to the staple that you’re finding success with — is a gastronomical adventure and may result in some delicious, unique meals that you’ve found nowhere else.

 

3. Find Your Staple Crop And Find Out How Much It Takes To Support A Year

The fresh veggies from the garden and fruits from the orchard are the flavor and colors of a meal, but you won’t have everything you need unless you secure your staple food. This is the food that forms the backbone of your diet. Staple food has taken tons of different forms around the world: maize, cassava, rice, wheat, millet, potatoes, and so on.

The key feature of a staple food is that it supplies carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, and can be stored well for long periods of time. What does that look like on your land? How do you process and store it? How much do you need to grow? You’ll have to find out.

Part of the mental aspect self-sufficiency that I mentioned includes being “okay” with what that staple ends up being. If you grew up on wheat-based products, but can only get corn or millet to grow on your land, are you willing to relearn everything and start a new life with that dependable staple?

If you’re up for the paradigm shift, then you are that much closer to making it work. Studying the cuisines of cultures native to your area — or native to the staple that you’re finding success with — is a gastronomical adventure and may result in some delicious, unique meals that you’ve found nowhere else.

 

4. Breed Your Source Of Protein And Land Fertility

There are those who will disagree with me on this, and that’s fine. But I believe that self-sufficiency requires a relationship with domesticated livestock. I know that many hunter-gatherer groups are able to support themselves with hunting alone, but those groups aren’t usually based in a single location. When that form of living was more widespread, the earth was healthier and could support the huge, roaming herds of meat-on-the-hoof.

I know I’m probably poking a hornet’s nest by saying this, but I don’t believe you can manage long-term self-sustainability on vegetables and fruits alone. Please note, I am not implying that you can’t homestead as a vegetarian or vegan. I was a vegetarian myself for several years until I was finally able to respectfully raise my own animals. I’m just discussing terms of self-sustainability. If there are any vegans or vegetarians who have managed to be totally self-sustaining in their diet without store-bought supplements, I’d welcome your stories!

Additionally, the manures produced by the animals you keep are a vital source of garden fertility, so the nutrient cycle of your land can be complete. You can manage good soil fertility with vegetable compost. The Nearings of The Good Life were vehemently dedicated to this cycle, and if you work animals into your land’s fertility plan, you will quickly see they are essential elements to your homestead life.

Figure out what animals you can and want to raise, and learn how to feed, house, and breed them in a healthy, sustainable way. Whether you choose sheep, fish, goats, chickens, ducks, cattle, or even meat pigeons (yes, that’s a thing), make sure you find a way to use everything they can offer you, not just meat.

Also, make it a goal to build up good relationships with nearby animal-keepers so you can trade breeding stock and avoid inbreeding. Every creature has different things to offer the land: pest control, fertility, unwanted brush-to-manure conversion, and so on.

The truth is, with all the animals we keep, we eat very little meat: the fertility, eggs, and milk that they offer us while living are far more valuable than a single roast. I believe meat is an occasional luxury, rather than a daily necessity. On the rare instances when we have butchered an animal, it has been done with the greatest gratitude and respect — and you better believe that every part from feathers to bones has been used.

Are you an experienced gardener/planter with lots of tips to give? We need you to be our subject matter expert. Join our list of instructors at Myclaaz.com

 

5. Feed Your Animals Entirely From Your Land

Our commitment to our animals is that we will only keep as many as we can healthily feed on our land itself, and we are still learning what that looks like. I cannot agree with this article calling a (one-acre) homestead self-sufficient because the animals are dependent on feed bought from someplace else (among other issues).

For the self-sustaining homestead, producing all the animal feed you need (rather than buying supplemental feed) probably means you’ll never have huge herds and flocks, but you’ll have enough. We work hard to provide our animals with access to forage, and if they can’t free-range safely, we bring that forage to them daily. With fewer animals, this is possible as a daily chore.

You should start practicing the ancient skill of harvesting and curing hay from your own land, and use scythes and rakes if you want to really go for broke. It is quite an enjoyable, even poetic chore.

Another important part of the house to consider when it comes to feeding your animals, is whether there are any pets that are a part of your home. Can you find a way to feed your birds, cats, and dogs from resources you can nurture on your land?

6. Store Enough Food To Get You Through The Winter

When I read the Little House on the Prairie series as an adult, I got chills. Much of the content of those stories are detailed portraits of people who spent their entire year preparing for the winter, and doing it successfully. I know that people the world ‘round have done this for centuries, but I have never done it. I don’t know how yet!

You may find yourself in a similar place as a child of the technological era, where grocery stores and snowplows made fresh tomatoes, exotic coconuts, and strawberries available all year round — no matter what the reality was outside.

The learned dependency of a comfortable childhood in the modern age probably taught us nothing about how to do things for ourselves, but that need not be our inheritance.

We can rediscover how to ferment, pickle, preserve, dry, and store provisions.

 

7. Get Your Water Off The Grid/ From The Natural Source

In Malaysia our best source of water is our constant climate change. When you see it rains put the bucket up and collect all the water to water your plants. If you live near a running water source even better. Scoop up that river water or small water source and hydrate your plant.

Are you an experienced gardener with lots of tips to give? We need you to be our subject matter expert. Join our list of instructors at Myclaaz.com

 

Source: https://insteading.com/