The tomatoes are delicious, they go directly from the vine on my balcony into my mouth. Splendid. Of course, that raises the question again: Can you be the producer of your own food? Is that even possible? Yes, sure, I have planted and harvested potatoes. But grain? And what happens during wintertime? Can everything be bottled? Prepared? Grandma used to do exactly that. Right?
Marie Diederich has been a food gardener for over 15 years, she loves chickens, and is also the author of “Selbstversorgung” (“Self-sufficiency”) and of the blog Wurzelwerk.* Her estimation is, that it takes about 1080 sq ft cropland to grow enough vegetables that feed one person for one year. Potatoes and such excluded. That is a lot of space, but you can always start small. The good thing about self-sufficient living is, that it gives you a whole different view on and appreciation of food. And that always helps. Because there are no strawberries and tomatoes during winter. Unless you have bottled or frozen them. At the end of this article, you find a very informative link concerning that topic. Or you just interview your grandmas – they usually know everything about tasty food preservation.
To get a good feeling for self-sufficient living, about what is necessary and what is not, you can start by only buying food that is seasonal and regional. What is currently ripe? What is from around here? And then, make a list. How many tomatoes, how many cucumbers do I eat per month? Can you forgo raspberries during winter? If not, how can you preserve them? Do you have a freezer? Yes? No?
Not everything has to work right away. If you manage to grow peppers on your balcony – congratulations, then you are self-sufficient in peppers. Or in cucumbers. Or in pumpkins. Plants that are good for starters are green squash, radish, and chard, says Marie Diederich. For me, my tomatoes are outperforming everything this year. Last year, I just put germinated potatoes into a large box of soil. The outcome was small, but extremely delicious. Of course, that is not enough for a whole year, but it gave me a good conscience – after all, you do not want to throw away food.
Here is a tip: You can use the stem of lettuce for more than just organic waste. Check out the article „Regrowing. Or how to turn one lettuce into two”.
Back to the potato: It might need more space to get a good harvest, but it can also be stored well. Moreover, potatoes are healthy and can be used to make various delicious dishes: Potato salad, potato gratin, fried potatoes, mashed potatoes…
Maybe you can share a garden with someone. Or you rent a field, some farmland.
And one more tip: Coffee grounds is a great fertilizer for potatoes.
Of course, that is all just a start. But it helps you find out if you are good at food gardening and you definitely save money. And waste. And energy.
Which brings us to ne next topic: Saving energy and producing energy. You will learn more about that in the third part of our series “The courage to become independent”. It’s not ok