Self Sufficiency with food
Modern society is an extremely complex thing. It relies completely upon a massive network of interrelationships between the individuals and groups of which it is composed. Each part of society supports each other part. To live in such a world usually involves finding a niche for yourself, giving your contribution to the whole machine, and in return the machine supports you.
- It is impersonal ‑ it only guarantees the material needs of a person. The impersonal way in which goods and services are provided can increase the likelihood of emotional problems.
- It does not tolerate anything which does not fit the system. People who deviate from what is considered the 'norm' are 'labelled' and rejected by society in the main.
- Everyone is so dependent on everyone else that they are frequently affected by things they have no control over e.g. industrial disputes.
- If the system collapses, everything collapses.
People might not have a broad enough range of skills to survive if thrown into a different situation e.g. war, economic collapse, natural catastrophe.
Growing vegetables for consumption can be a valuable tool in increasing your self-sufficiency, whether it is at a personal scale or at the scale of a family or a small community. A kitchen garden is one way that the individual or small community can provide themselves with a steady supply of fresh vegetables throughout the year. Not only does this food source reduce dependency on society at large, but it can also increase personal health, because fresher vegetables frequently have a greater nutritional value.
But in order to be successful, a kitchen garden must be well planned. This planning must take into account what can be grown in the area (this is influenced by the soil, climate, and other local factors), as well as what vegetable products are required. It can be difficult to produce consistent volumes and variety of produce, and management of the vegetable garden needs to aim to provide this consistency and variety.
It's All A Matter of Timing
The problem with most edible produce is that it grows and matures at certain times of the year. You may have a glut of produce in the summer and autumn only to find that you have little in winter and are virtually starving in early spring!
This may not be a problem if you have decided to only grow vegetables at certain times of the year and have no intention of aiming towards self-sufficiency. However, if you would like to be self sufficient and grow most of the produce you need to sustain you and your family throughout the year, then you will need to carefully plan your garden to ensure that these needs are meet.
Whatever you decide you should be aware that different types of plants will yield different results, and you need to carefully select what you will grow and where you will grow it (particularly if you have limited space or limited time in which to care for crops):
- Some plants, once established require relatively little attention (e.g. nut trees or raspberries), while others need constant attention (e.g. lettuce or tomatoes).
- Some plants produce a lot in a small space (e.g. berry fruit) while others take large spaces to produce even small quantities of produce (e.g. wheat).
- Some plants take a long time to produce a crop, others bear quickly.
- Some plants require a lot of capital outlay initially (i.e. cost of the plant, cost of fertiliser etc.).
- Some fruit trees bear their fruit biennially (particularly if allowed to produce heavy crops, thinning of crops is essential to prevent biennial cropping) whereas others bear fruit annually.
Another simple approach is to be in rhythm with nature i.e. eat what is in season but don’t forget that you can extend cropping naturally by choosing and planting early, mid and late season varieties. Unless it is an area of particular interest to you; trying to grow crops outside of their natural growing seasons i.e. expecting to eat strawberries in winter in a cooler climate, is a waste of time and energy for the home gardener.
You Can Become More Self-Sufficient
The way to become self sufficient is by taking small steps. Don't try to do it all over night. Don't expect complete self-sufficiency next year. You can make small steps over time though and gradually decrease your reliance on buying in food.
Become increasingly self-sufficient with food by studying Self Sufficiency II with ACS (Note: You do not need to do Self Sufficiency I before taking this). The course will teach you about nutrition and a balanced diet. You will learn about producing and using different types of food.
The course is studied by distance learning and can be started at any time. If you want to know more about the course, why not get in touch with our specialist Self-Sufficiency tutors today? They will be pleased to answer your questions and explain how our courses work.
More from ACS
This courses includes the PDC (Permaculture Design Certificate); and more.