In the year round garden, when the going gets tough (freezing temps, winter storms, you name it!), you need to have a backup source of food, and more specifically, fresh food.
Even with vegetables that can extend your season (mentioned HERE) and low tunnels, once you hit very cold temperatures there isn’t much left in the garden. January through March is when I really struggle to do 100% backyard garden vegetables because of prolonged periods of cold, ice, and snow. I’m in zone 6b so if you are in a colder zone this period is probably longer.
#1 Maintains More Nutrients Than Other Food Preservation Methods
There are only small amounts of nutrient loss in comparison with other food preservation methods like canning and freezing. I found a chart HERE that compares nutrient values. It says that dehydration has a 3-5% nutrient loss after preservation. Freezing has a 40 - 60% nutrient loss and canning has 60-80% nutrient loss.
When it comes to growing a lot of food in a small area, I have so many tricks and tips to share with you! My own garden is 5000 square feet right now but it wasn’t always that way.
And to tell you the truth, since we are growing a year’s worth of food for six people, I still constantly employ all my methods for growing a large amount of food in a small space. If you check out my Guide on How Much to Plant Per Person for a Year’s Worth of Food, you will see that you need to be creative to make that happen with the space you have.
Want to know the first BIG secret to growing more food in a small area?
When I set the goal to eat only the veggies from my garden for a whole year, I had one big problem. I had no idea how many plants we needed to grow for a years worth of food! Since I grow for six people in a 3500 square foot garden with some space allocated for fruits, my amounts needed to be precise.
Every year I spend many, many hours in the garden and in the kitchen. I think knowing the why behind the task can be motivating and enlightening. Why should you strive to grow as much food as you can? You’ll find the answer in the 10 reasons below.
Let me take you back to when I was sick with stomach pains and acid reflux. I had been trying every diet imaginable and the latest one was Paleo. I ate strict paleo for almost a year. Because Paleo is heavy on meat and vegetables our average monthly grocery bill was $1200. We do have a family of six. I was the only one who was on the Paleo diet but dinners were made so that I could eat them too.
There is a Part II to gardening that often gets forgotten. It demands attention and yet is scarcely mentioned in the gardening community. It is: How to use the vegetables after they get picked and need to be eaten. Sure, most of us know how to nibble on cherry tomatoes and enjoy some steamed peas but I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about using those vegetables for your everyday cooking and knowing how to do that with confidence.
Planning a garden to feed us year round is quite a job for a family of six! It’s a little more complicated than it should be because I’m working in a tight space with intensive planting.
I do a four year rotation for my plant groups for the most part. Below are the plants I group together:
Lettuce and Friends- Friends being carrots, peas, onions
By “group together” I don’t mean they are all in one group in the garden. I just make sure that anything in the squash family doesn’t go into the same area for four years. And I’ll just say right here that 4 year rotation is the goal, however, it doesn’t always happen… (Read more)
I’m Becky. Gardening and eating from that garden is my passion. I’m a believer that a year-round self-sufficient homestead can begin no matter where you may live. My goal is to empower others continue on their journey toward a self- sufficient life.