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Today we are talking about how to grow more food with fall and winter crops. To live a fully self sufficient lifestyle, growing food year round should be your goal!
Year Round Vegetable Gardening for More Food
If you are a homesteader, and you want to live a self sufficient lifestyle, than you must consider how to grow more food with fall and winter crops.
When most folks think about having a vegetable garden, it is just a one season garden. They prepare for the garden in spring, plant it when temperatures warm up typically by June 1st, and then it is over and done with when the chilly temps of fall set in.
If you are trying to live a more self sustainable lifestyle, as many homesteaders strive to do, don't fall into this trap! Everyone can grow food in those cooler seasons as well as the summer, and if you do so, you will have more fresh food for your family.
This is an excellent book on year round vegetable gardening The Year Round Vegetable Gardener by Niki Jabour.
The Winter Harvest Handbook by Eliot Coleman is another must have book for gardening for food in the winter.
Cold Season Crops vs Warm Season Crops
Many beginner gardeners, are not aware that some crops prefer to be grown or started in the cooler seasons, and don't fare as well when planted in the summer heat. Often times, the summer heat will cause these crops to bolt, or go to seed.
On the other hand, some crops prefer growing in the warm season, and don't fare well if the temperature goes below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, such as tomatoes and peppers.
Don't forget to continue to be wary of garden pests in cooler seasons. Here in the PNW, slugs and snails are a problem all year long. Try these Natural Slug and Snail Control Methods to keep them under control.
Cold Season Crops include:
- Brassicas ie: broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, brussel sprouts, kohlrabi, bok choy, etc
- Greens ie: lettuces, chard, spinach, collards, arugala, mustard,
- Root crops: carrots, beets, parsnips, potatoes, radish
See my article Seed Starting 101: Winter Sowing, to learn how to start seeds outdoors in winter, which works perfectly for cold season crops!
Warm Season crops include:
See my article Seed Starting 101: Essential Seed Starting Equipment, to get a jump start on those warm season crops like tomatoes and peppers!
Perennial Food Crops
Perennial crops are plants that you plant one time, and they keep on giving, year after year. Don't forget to plant these when you are trying to grow the max amount of food for your family.
Perennial crops include:
- globe artichokes
- Jerusalem artichokes ie sunchokes
- fruit trees ie apple, pear, peach, plum, cherry, etc
- nut trees
To read more about perennial food crops, the must have book on the subject is called Perennial Vegetables by Eric Toensmeier.
Maximum Food Production on the Homestead
For maximum food production on your homestead, you should plan to grow food crops year round, utilizing cool season crops, warm season crops and perennial crops. Things like cold frames and greenhouses can help, but are not always necessary.
See my article on this simple easy DIY: How to Build a Straw Bale Cold Frame.
Succession Planting for Maximum Food Production
Not only do you need to plan to grow crops year round for maximum food production, but it is also wise to plan for succession planting in your food garden as well. Some crops grow very quickly, like radishes. So plan to sow a couple of batches of radishes in succession, to harvest the maximum amount. This works well for greens also.
Or as one crop gets harvested, immediately plant something in it's place after you have harvested and cleaned up the garden bed. For instance, when you harvest your spring peas, plan to sow a row of carrots in that space right away. Or when you harvest your garlic, plant beans in that space.
Keeping all areas growing, at all times, allows for the most food production.
Preserving Your Home Grown Food for Self Sufficiency
Some people may ask, "But what will you do with all that fresh food?" Well, those folks are obviously not growing food in an attempt to live a sustainable lifestyle! I get this question a lot, and I have to explain all the time, we eat as much as we can fresh.
But what we can't eat fresh, we preserve, either by freezing, dehydrating or canning. And if we can't get to it or still have more than we need, food pantries always appreciate donations of fresh vegetables! But by preserving those seasonal foods, we can enjoy the fruits of our labor, when those items are not available fresh. If you are new to preserving food, check out my articles on food preservation.
Grow More Food with Cool Season Crops
Please see my friend Lisa's article for more information on growing cool season crops by clicking the photo or link below!
Grow More Food with Cool Season Crops from Lisa at The Self Sufficient HomeAcre
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