Throughout history, people have managed to survive by cultivating their own food, for example by fishing, hunting, or gathering food and subsistence agriculture. Today, food is mass-produced and can be easily purchased at the market or in stores, so gardening is often just a hobby. In fact, producing your own food can increase food security, health, and family joy. Since the success rate of growing your own food will depend on the specific conditions in your area, this article will give you some general ideas to get started.
Method 1 of 2: Making a Plan
Step 1. Decide which crops can be grown in your area
The main determining factors include climate, soil conditions, rainfall, and land availability. The quickest and easiest way to find out what plants can be in a garden in your area is to visit the nearest farm or vegetable garden. Here are some questions to ask experienced growers or do your own research:
- Climate. Some regions, such as Northern Europe and Africa, have only a very short growing season. This means you have to choose a type of plant that can grow and be harvested in a short time while the produce can be stored for the winter. Other regions have a hot climate all year round so fresh vegetables and grains can be harvested at any time.
- Land. You can get a bountiful harvest from a large area or a small harvest from a small area. The best option is to grow food crops that do well in your area and use the remaining land to grow “fancy” crops that require more fertilizer and care.
- Rainfall. No plant can thrive if it doesn't get enough water. So, most food crops need a lot of water, which is obtained from irrigation or rainfall. Consider the average rainfall in your area and the availability of an irrigation system when selecting crops. If you live in a dry area, consider harvesting rainwater.
- Land. If you have a large area of land, you can grow lots of crops using conventional methods, but if space is limited, you may have to look for other techniques, including hydroponics, pot gardening, profit sharing, or vertical gardening.
Step 2. Understand the growing season period
Growing crops is not enough just to sow seeds and wait for the harvest. In the “Planting” section below, you'll find specific steps for growing a single type of crop. You'll need to prepare each different crop in much the same way, but once you've prepared the soil for planting, you can grow as many different crops as you want at the same time.
Step 3. Identify different types of food crops
We often think of vegetables sold in supermarkets as garden vegetables. In one sense this is true, but if you want to grow your own food crops, you have to consider the whole diet. Here is a general list of the types of food you should consider growing yourself.
- Vegetables. These include legumes, leafy greens, root vegetables, corn (grains if we look closely), and creeping vegetables such as squash, cucumbers, melons, and machetes. These vegetables provide a large number of important nutrients and vitamins, including:
- Proteins. Legumes are a good source of protein.
- Carbohydrate. Potatoes and beets are good sources of complex carbohydrates and minerals.
Vitamins and minerals. Leafy greens, such as cabbage and lettuce, and creeping vegetables such as cucumbers and pumpkins are sources of important vitamins and minerals.
- Fruit. Most people think that fruit is a good source of vitamin C, but actually fruit also provides many other vitamins and minerals to your diet. In addition, the fruit is available in a variety of different flavors for you to enjoy. Often, fruit can be preserved by drying or canning. That way, you don't have to store all the excess fruit in the refrigerator.
- Grains. Most people don't imagine growing grains when they think of growing their own crops, but grains are a staple in most diets. Grains are high in carbohydrates and fiber, and can be stored for a long time. In many ancient civilizations and in some countries today, such as Indonesia, grains were the main food of the population. Food crops that fall into this category include:
- Corn. Often consumed with the main meal as a vegetable. Corn is also a versatile grain that can be stored for a long time. Good varieties, harvested when they reach full maturity, can be stored whole, shelled (corn kernels removed from the cob), or ground into a flour that can be used to make bread or thicken dishes. For those living around the equator, corn is probably one of the easiest grains to grow for subsistence farming. Freezing corn is the easiest way to store it.
- Wheat. Most people are quite familiar with wheat, which is usually processed into flour for baking cakes and bread. Wheat can be stored well after harvest, but harvesting wheat is more tiring than harvesting corn because you have to cut the whole plant, bundle it (bind it into bundles), pound the stalks of the wheat to knock out the seeds, and grind it into a fine powder (flour).
- Oats. Oats are another grain consumed by humans and have to go through a more complicated process than wheat and corn. Harvesting oats also requires painstaking hard work like harvesting oats. However, oats can be a good choice for some areas where they can grow easily.
- Paddy. For areas that are wet or areas that are prone to flooding or can be flooded, rice is the obvious choice. It is usually grown in shallow waterlogged soil and the harvesting process is more or less the same as for wheat.
- Other grains, such as barley and rye, are similar to wheat and oats.
Step 4. Choose plants and varieties that suit your area
The guidance in this article is not sufficient to provide comprehensive and accurate information based on your needs. Instead, we'll study the basic needs for growing different crops based on the United States Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zone maps. You may be able to use it by comparing the latitude and elevation of the area where you live.
- Beans, peas and other types of legumes. This plant is planted after the soil conditions warm and takes 75-90 days to produce fruit. Production will continue as long as you take good care of the plants.
- Pumpkin. Included in this group of plants include honey gourd, melon, and machete gourd. This plant is planted after the weather warms up and it takes between 45 days (cucumber) to 130 days (pumpkin machete) to produce fruit that can be harvested.
- Tomatoes. Tomatoes (usually considered a vegetable) can be sown in pots and must be kept warm, then can be transplanted into the soil once conditions warm. Tomatoes can continue to produce fruit throughout the growing season.
- Grains. Grain seasons vary widely. In addition there are winter varieties and summer varieties. In general, summer grains, such as corn and summer wheat, are planted towards the end of winter when negative temperatures are expected to last a few weeks and take about 110 days to reach maturity, then 30-60 days to dry enough to be harvested and harvested. saved.
- Garden fruit. Apples, pears, plums, and peaches are considered garden fruits in many places and do not need to be planted every year. Trees that produce these fruits must be pruned and nurtured, and it usually takes 2-3 years before producing a meager first harvest. When a tree begins to produce fruit, the harvest should increase every year and once the tree reaches maturity and has a good root system, one tree can produce abundant fruit each year.
Step 5. Develop a “cultivation plan” for the land to be used for food production
You'll need to address specific issues in your planning, including wildlife nuisance where you have to put up fences or other permanent precautions, sun exposure because some plants need more sunlight to produce, and topography because plowing very steep terrain can cause a lot of problems.).
- Make a list of all the plants you want to try growing in your field. Try to make a varied list to meet the nutritional needs discussed earlier. You may be able to estimate the total yield of each crop by studying the success rates of other people in your area or by using information from where you purchased your seeds. Referring to the list and planting plans that have been started previously, you should calculate how many seeds are needed. If you have a large plot of land, plant excess seeds to compensate for less fertile crops until you fully understand what you are doing.
- Try to use the land as effectively as possible if the area is limited. If you live in an area with four seasons, you can plant and harvest in summer, fall, winter, and spring. This allows you to enjoy fresh vegetables all year round. Beets, carrots, cauliflower, peas, cabbage, onions, radishes, collards, collards, and many other vegetables prefer to grow in cold weather as long as the soil doesn't freeze. Winter plants are much more susceptible to insect attack. If your space is limited, consider other alternatives (see the “Tips” section).
Step 6. Think of a storage method
If you plan to grow grain, you will need a warehouse to store your produce to keep it dry and safe from insects and pests. If you intend to produce all of your own food, perhaps a combination of storage and preservation methods will help. The steps above cover some of these methods, but to summarize, here are the methods commonly used to preserve food:
- Drying (or dehydration). This method is especially suitable for preserving fruits and some types of vegetables. In most areas with dry and warm climates, you can do without sophisticated equipment.
- Canning. This method requires a container (which is reusable, except for the lid as the quality deteriorates over time) and requires some preparation, cooking utensils, and skill. In this article, pickling is considered a “canning” process, although this is not always the case.
- Freezing. Again, you'll need a little prep, a freezer, and a suitable container.
- Storage with straw. This method has not been mentioned before and is usually used to preserve plant tubers, such as potatoes, rutabaga, beets, and other tubers. This method involves storing the tubers in a layer of straw, in a dry and cool location.
- Storage in soil (usually done in a four-season country): Many tubers and cole crops (such as radishes and cabbage) can be left in the soil during the winter. In most cases, it is important to prevent the soil from freezing. In areas with mild winters, you may only need a frozen blanket. However, in areas with colder climates a 30 cm layer of mulch and plastic sheeting may be required. This storage method is an effective way to save space and maintain the freshness of the crop.
Step 7. Determine the benefits of this activity compared to the costs
You will need to invest a large amount of money as start-up costs if you don't have the materials and equipment needed to get started. You also have to put a lot of energy into doing the work, and that means additional costs if you leave your regular job to dedicate yourself to this endeavor. Before investing a lot of money and time, do some research on local growing conditions in your area, the types of crops available, and your ability to manage this labor-intensive effort. The upside is that you can enjoy your food without worrying about herbicides, pesticides, and other contaminants, other than what you choose to use.
Step 8. Start the project in stages
If you have a large area of land and adequate equipment, you can start on a fairly large scale. However, if you don't have enough knowledge and experience, you will be risking everything by choosing plants that you think will suit the soil and climate of your area. It is advisable to talk to people in your area for specific information about selecting crops and when to plant them, but if this is not possible, plant a “trial” crop in the first year to see how good the harvest is. Start small, maybe you can try to produce a certain percentage of the food you need to get an idea of the total production you can expect, while gradually working towards a level of food self-sufficiency.
Method 2 of 2: Planting
Step 1. Plow the ground
If the soil is already cultivated, that means you just need to loosen and “turn over” the soil, or cover up any plants or crop residue from previous plantings. This process is also called “plowing” the soil and is carried out by means of a plow pulled by an animal carrier or tractor, or on a small scale, by a small machine with a self-propelled system (commonly called a “rototiller”). If you only have a small plot of land on a limited budget, you can use a pickaxe, shovel, and hoe. This work can be done in groups. You will need to remove boulders, roots and branches, overgrown shrubs, and other debris before plowing.
Step 2. Create an array
With modern farming equipment, this process is adapted to the type of crop to be grown, and for crops that can grow in “unplowed” soil, you can skip this process and the previous step. Here, we consider a common method that would be used by someone who does not have the equipment and expertise to do so. Mark the area to be planted, then use a hoe or plow to make a slightly taller pile of loose soil forming a column that is parallel to the length of the field. Next, make a furrow (a shallow dig in the ground) using the tool of your choice.
Step 3. Place the seeds in the furrows at the depth recommended for the variety of crops to be planted
Depths may vary depending on the plant you choose. In general, succulent crops such as legumes (beans and peas) and melons, pumpkins, cucumbers are planted at a depth of 2-2.5 cm, while corn and potatoes can be planted at a depth of 6-9 cm. After placing the seeds in the furrows, cover them with soil and compact them (gently pat) so that the seed column (covered lines) does not dry out quickly. Continue this process until you have the number of rows you plan to plant.
You can also "sow" the seeds indoors (for example in a greenhouse) and transplant them later
Step 4. Plant the plant when the soil becomes compacted by rain or you will have weed problems
Since you're planting in rows, you'll be able to walk in the empty areas between rows (in the middle) if you want to do your planting by hand. You need to loosen the soil around the roots without damaging the roots themselves. You can add mulch to reduce or even get rid of unwanted “weeds”/plants.
Step 5. Watch for insects and animals that can damage crops
If you see gnawed leaves, you must determine what caused the damage. Many animals find tender young plants in the garden more appetizing than wild plants so you should protect the plants from this problem, but insects are a more common problem when growing plants. You can minimize insect damage by removing or eradicating them when you find them. For serious problems, you will need to use chemical or biological methods (use insect repellent plants in the vicinity).
Step 6. Harvest the crop
You must have a minimum of knowledge to know when it is a good time to harvest crops. Many common garden vegetables can be harvested when they are ripe and will continue to produce produce throughout the growing season if cared for properly. On the other hand, grains are often harvested when they are fully ripe and dry on the plant. Harvesting is a labor-intensive job and as you get more experienced in farming you will have to reduce the production of certain crops so that the harvest can be more manageable.
Step 7. Save the crop
For common vegetables, you have several options for saving your crop while waiting for the next growing season. Carrots, radishes, and other root vegetables do well in the refrigerator or cellar. Drying is an option for preserving meat, fruit, and vegetables, and this method is especially suitable for grain crops such as legumes. To preserve succulents and fruit, you might consider canning or freezing them. Airless plastic bags can preserve frozen vegetables better in the long run.
- Consider working with neighbors. It will be easier to manage a small number of different crops and you will be able to grow enough food choices for two families, while the other family will grow enough other crops to allow you to trade.
- Even families that rarely eat meat often decide to raise several farm animals such as chickens for eggs. Most of the chicken's food needs can be met from garden organic waste. Chickens will eat vegetable skins, stale bread, and a lot of other trash that you might throw away or compost. When the chicken stops laying eggs, consider slaughtering and cooking it.
- Build a greenhouse. That way, you can grow food all year round, even in cold weather.
- Don't stop growing your own vegetables when it's cold (if you live in a cold climate). Consider sowing seeds in the kitchen. By sowing different types of plants, such as radish, broccoli, alfalfa and clover, you will have a variety of different flavors and types of vegetables and include fresh greens in your diet to complement frozen or canned vegetables.
- Look for external food sources to supplement your agricultural production. Fishing, picking wild berries and nuts, harvesting plants that grow wild in your area and safe for consumption, even setting traps or hunting can be options to diversify your diet.
- If you have very limited land and your wants (or needs) are reasonable, look for other methods of farming. There are a number of planting methods to deal with narrow areas and produce high yields. Here are some brief explanations and links to more detailed sources of information:
- Hydroponic gardening. This method involves growing crops in an aquatic culture medium or also called “soilless farming”.
- Vertical plantation. This method is used for “vines” which usually require a lot of space to propagate, thereby reducing the carrying capacity per square meter. By installing a trellis, fence, or other support structure, you can increase the number of plants per square meter because the plants will grow vertically, not horizontally.
- Gardening in pots. Some plants can grow in almost any container (even old toilets, even if they look bad). Many people have grown plants in “window pots” for years to add beauty to the arid city apartment environment. The same process can be used to grow smaller, less root dependent crops, such as bell peppers, pumpkins, tomatoes and others.
- Pottage plantations (decorative kitchen gardens). This method allows concentrated and rotational growing of vegetables. Moreover, this method can be a wonderful alternative to replacing the front page.
- Be careful, plant different varieties, cooperate with other growers and minimize risks. Making your own food can be satisfying, but your luck is heavily influenced by nature, in the form of pests and bad weather that can destroy an entire crop in a very short time.
- If you want to preserve food with a canning system at home, do it properly to avoid the risk of botulism and other diseases.
- Cultivating food itself requires patience, perseverance, and physical work such as bending, lifting, and hauling. Be prepared to sweat. Wear socks under your shoes or choose footwear that is easy to clean. Protect yourself from the sun and insects (fleas and mosquitoes can transmit fatal diseases) by cleaning yourself frequently and thoroughly.
- Be careful with mushrooms. Make sure you know which ones are safe for consumption. When in doubt, don't eat it at all.
- Don't use pesticides. Pesticides can seep into food and cause cancer in humans. Instead, grow food crops in a greenhouse or other clean environment that is protected from pests.
- Make sure you clean garden tools (shovels and other tools) before use to keep food clean.