When setting up plans for your homestead, it is always nice to know how to get the most bang for your buck. That is, which fruits, vegetables, and other food items will give you the highest yield and provide the most nutrients for your family.
Why is it so important to plan for the most benefit – whether it is your garden or livestock you may own? You never know what will happen from one day to the next. Today, your family may be gainfully employed and you’re able to afford some luxuries. However, in the near future, your company may shut down due to national epidemic or a health issue that affects your family. If you plan to get the most back from your investment – financially as well as your time – you my not be adversely affected when the hard times come.
Most of us grow our own food in an attempt to be more self-sufficient and so we can rely less on the grocery store. So, with that in mind, what should we be growing to achieve this goal?
In this post, I’m going to give you the top 5 crops I think you should consider when trying to increase your food self-sufficiency.
Top 5 Crops for Increasing Food Self Sufficiency
Generally speaking, potatoes will give you the most calories for the least amount of required planting space. They are relatively easy to grow and will generally be ready to harvest in 65-90 days. They store well, so they can be eaten over a long period of time.
Being a member of the nightshade family, potatoes need to be rotated every year. They are also susceptible to bugs and disease. You also don’t want to store potatoes in the dark for too long because it can make them poisonous.
Even though there are over 100 varieties of potatoes in the world, most people have only eaten a few varieties. Potatoes can be grown in all 50 states in the United States.
These organically grown, Non-GMO seed potatoes from Jack’s Back 40 are virus and chemical free. Best suited for zones 3-10, they prefer full to part sun, and will mature in 80-90 days.
From North Valley Seed, these are the best early eating potato. They produce big great-tasting crop of yellow-fleshed potatoes that are perfect for baking or mashing. They are sprout resistant and store well.
Corn is pretty easy to grow, though it is a heavy feeder and requires a lot of nitrogen to do well. There are many types of corn including dent, flour, and flint. (Additional types of corn include sweet and popcorn.)
Dent corn is the most common kind of field corn and is, unfortunately, almost all genetically modified. If you are aiming for food self-sufficiency, you’ll probably want to grow flint corn, as it is easy to grind and you can make all sorts of yummy things with it, like loaves of bread and pancakes.
There are many places that you can purchase non-genetically modified seeds. In fact, you can find many varieties of corn you may never have tried before. Here are a few varieties you may want to try.
Seed Needs sells these non-GMO corn seeds. The seeds produce ears of corn that are 7 inches long with dark blue kernels. They will be ready for harvest in about 75-90 days.
Seed Needs has these non-GMO corn seeds which are a hybrid. They are ready to harvest in roughly 90-100 days. They are easily established by sowing up to 1” under topsoil.
These seeds, by Country Creek Acres, are a super-early yellow sweet corn. They produce high yields.
You can grow different kinds of legumes during pretty much the whole year – depending on where you live. In cool/cold weather, you can grow peas, fava beans, garbanzo beans, and lentils. As it warms up, you can add in bush beans, pole beans, and peanuts.
Here are some legume seeds to grow in your garden.
These bean seeds, also known as Fava beans, from “Cool Beans & Sprouts,” are a product of the USA. The English bean is one of the largest beans. They are low in calories as well as being a good source of calcium and fiber. They are also high in protein and many important vitamins.
These mung beans are perfect for sprouting and proven to have a higher germination rate. You can use any sprouter for germinating these mung beans from Country Creek. This comes in a resealable pouch for your convenience and the mung beans are grown and packaged in the US, so you are guaranteed the highest quality standards.
4. Winter Squash
High in fiber and vitamins A and C, winter squash is a great vegetable to grow. It is tasty, can produce huge yields, and stores well. Per 100 square feet of growing area, you can usually yield somewhere around 50-91 pounds of squash.
Here are some seeds you may want to grow.
These Non-GMO seeds from Seed Needs are intended to be planted the current year as well as the following growing season. This variety of winter squash produce fruit that are 7-9 inches long and have a dark green stripe.
These butternut squash seeds are non-GMO, free of chemicals and pesticides. They can be grown in gardens, pots, planters, and more. They are best grown outside.
Saving the best for last and not something we would usually consider a “crop,” eggs are one of the world’s healthiest and most nutrient-dense foods. Think of it this way, an egg contains all the nutrients it needs to grow a baby chick.
Keeping a flock of chickens in your backyard not only gives you eggs but it can also give you a source of meat. Eggs are packed with protein and contain a bunch of vitamins and minerals. If you’re trying to boost your food self-sufficiency, get yourself at least a half a dozen chickens.
So, there you have it, my list of the top 5 crops for increasing food self-sufficiency. What would you add? Do you disagree with my list?
For more reading on this topic, check out this great post from Mother Earth News: http://www.motherearthnews.com/homesteading-and-livestock/self-sufficient-homestead-zm0z11zkon.aspx#axzz30PuU1gdX
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