Do you have what it takes? Can you grow everything you need and not buy vegetables, preserved or fresh this year?
That is our goal for 2012. We are upping our gardening goal this year and I must say, I am quite excited!
Will it be hard? Sure! Will it be time-consuming? You bet! Will it take a lot of planning? Yes! Can we do it? Oh yeah!
As always, I am up for a challenge. Not only will this challenge lower our grocery bill, but, we will become more self-sustainable by using our God-given land to grow our food. Can we eliminate our grocery bill entirely? Well, unless I can have a nice little rice patty out back, make my own toilet paper and grow my own mascara ingredients, probably not!
So, let’s talk about this for a minute or two. How in the world do you plan for something like this? Does it seem overwhelming to you to even think about making a commitment to such proportions? I mean, we all have been a little too reliant on grocery stores and to be honest with you, I don’t particularly like them!
How do we plan for this huge gardening goal?
Let’s start with pencil and paper. Start writing down all the vegetables that grow well in your soil. Then, next to each vegetable, write down how you plan on using them. For example, do you like your corn to be canned or frozen along with eating it fresh? What about tomatoes? I can think of 100 ways (well, maybe not that many) to eat and preserve tomatoes. Here are some examples of a few things I’ve jotted down in my worn-out notebook,
okra – fresh, pickled, frozen
green beans – fresh, canned with potatoes, frozen
winter squash – store in cellar, frozen
apples – fresh, apple butter, maple apple jam, apple pie filling, dried
watermelon – fresh, pickled rinds
Once you have all your vegetables written down and how you plan on using them, recheck it and really think about what you can eat for the year. What do you buy at the grocery store that you can grow, but don’t have on the list? Add it. If you haven’t had luck in the past with growing that vegetable, don’t give up! If you do some research in gardening books, you can usually find out the cause. More than likely, it is fixable with the right soil ammendments. With all of the varieties they have now, you might be able to find one that does well in your soil-type.
Carrots are not just for sandy soil anymore. They now have types that do well in clay soil. There is watermelon seed that does well in northern climates. Read your gardening catalogs. You will be amazed at what seeds you really can grow.
Some veggies just won’t grow well, period. But, if you eat a lot of cauliflower, and you never had any luck growing it, it might be worth researching and persevering. If not, get cauliflower out of your head.
Find out how much of each vegetable you want to eat each week. For example, say you eat about a quart of green beans once a week. That’s about 52 quarts (add more for company, potlucks, etc) of green beans for a year’s worth.
If you use about 4 large onions a week for cooking, take that times 52 weeks and you get 208 onions.
How about a couple of winter squash every 2 weeks. That’s 48 winter squash you would need a year, not including company, etc.
It’s important to figure out those numbers first, then, start your garden layout. There are a lot of good gardening books out there to help you in this area. Check out my Farm and Garden Bookstore Page up top. Any of those backyard gardening books (not market gardening) are good to give you an idea of how to lay out your garden.
You can also go to Johnny Seeds and print out planting dates, harvest info and a whole slew of other stuff. They also have a planting calculator and a yields chart. Just click on these links and it will take you right to that page.
You will need a pretty good size garden, especially if you have a large family like I do. Use every inch, and do not forget to succession plant. You don’t want all of your green beans to be ready for pickin’ at one time. That is a cause of panic!
The key here, is to make a commitment to this goal. It has to be more than a mental commitment. Bring your family in on it early. Let others know as well. This is huge! You need some accountability to keep it going!
Ask God to give you the strength and stamina to follow through. Lean on His guidance. You will need it, especially after canning your 100th jar of green beans!
Remember why you are doing what you are doing.
I’m ready! How about you?
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