One of the most important aspects of homestead food production today is backyard farming. Amidst all the unnatural and unhealthy as well as unsustainable food systems, agriculture has gone downhill. Modernization has put agriculture in the clutches of heavy chemicals, government subsidies, and soil depleting approaches.
With global warming at its height, our goal should be to minimize our negative footprint on the environment and ourselves. Being away from the highly modern American life and instead focusing on acquiring a healthy one is the aim.
Food grown by ourselves in our yards will be taken care of by love and proper attention to them. Backyard farming would be the best way to start with the goal.
A backyard farm provides the home to your food produce. It may involve produce from plants, animals, or anything else. Traditional commercial farming takes up larger space spreading over thousands of acres with a single crop in straight rows. Backyard farming is a cheaper and effective option.
Backyard farming provides a platform for resource generation developing food production zones. Factors like the climate, the soil, the area, and the location are some of the keys that appreciate the development of backyard farming. Different factors provide the ground for different kinds of production.
Basically, you’re bringing back the primitive agricultural measures and beliefs to the present food system for the sake of a healthy life. Backyard farming isn’t something new but needs to be reapproached for a better outcome.
Getting started with backyard farming should begin with planning out your backyard farm before starting with it hands-on will always produce better results. Starting from the equipment required to prepare your backyard to structuring the processes is critical to farming. You can then decide on what you want to produce on your backyard farm.
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What to Grow on Your Backyard Farm
The context of producing food on your self-sufficient homestead is to grow enough food for your family as there can be. Growing a homestead production of food won’t be simply a hobby but a source of living and much more than that.
Backyard farming would not only let you earn a living out of it but it should be the most of what your family feeds on. That is the goal you cannot drift from. Let’s get into detail about what you can grow on your backyard farm.
1. The Macronutrients
Backyard farming should be focused on growing the right crop that keeps the family up and alive. Apart from the climate and other environmental factors critical to growing food on your backyard farm, it is equally important to really think about the necessary foods for survival – the macronutrients.
Proteins, carbs, and fats are an essential part of your daily diet. You don’t want to miss them out. You’d want to grow foods with the sufficient content of these micronutrients. Even if you grow one chicken on your farm, it’ll feed you 1 meal every day providing eggs. Calculating correctly, you’ll find that just one chicken makes you 33% self-sufficient.
Another excellent source of fats and nutrients is potatoes. If you know how to properly harvest and store potatoes, they are adaptable to most climates. Although they can be an enormous source of carbs, let’s not forget that at the end of the day, they keep us alive.
Other great sources of macronutrients that you can grow in your backyard farm are cattle, which is quite obvious, sweet potatoes, corn, squash, beans, and other types of grains. Choose any of these foods that is easier and convenient for you to grow, preserve, and store at your own risk.
2. Valuables Like Fruits and Vegetables
Whenever you hit the grocery store to buy fruits and vegetables, you often find yourself frowning at their high prices. So, why not consider growing them as you’re up to backyard farming? Growing them yourself in your backyard would lessen your expenses, and it could be a great medium of exchange in the neighborhood.
Fruit trees like watermelon, crenshaw, cantaloupe, peaches, plums, apricots, honey-dews, berries pears, and other similar raw materials are great options to grow on your backyard farm.
A self-sufficient production is meant to make you self-sufficient. You can opt for growing foods that your family likes but is expensive in the market. For instance, you can grow ducks for their eggs or you also can consider growing microgreens.
3. Herbs And Other Micronutrients
Another most essential nutrient that your body requires is micronutrients. This essential food contains enough vitamins and fewer calories. You can think of growing vegetables like lettuces, kale, spinach, onions, tomatoes, water chestnuts, etc. Sprouting seeds are also a great source of micronutrients.
You can also think about growing edible herbs that contain good amounts of nutrients without calories.
Micronutrients come next to macronutrients on the list for you to consider growing on your farm. However, they are still an important part of your health and well-being. They keep your body well-toned from within and strengthens your immune system.
Implementing Your Homestead Food Production
Now that you know what are the foods you can consider growing as you start backyard farming, it’s now that you learn how to gather all that information and implement them on your homestead food production.
1. Starting Up
As you start with your backyard farming, think about perennials. think of which permanent elements can you add to your backyard farming. Shrubs, fruit and nut orchards, vines, etc. would provide great yield season after season. Patience is what you’ll need to see the bigger yields.
While we’re still on the think tile, make sure to carefully plant your fruit trees, vines, and other shrubs as they need ample time to establish their roots. you can also gather compost, mulch, and other types of raw materials in your backyard that you’d require for farming later.
Although vegetables are still in the market for traditional annuals, permanent elements pose a greater choice for the consistency in your homestead food production. Vegetables might need to be reestablished on a yearly basis.
2. Keeping The Flow
Next up, you can concentrate on layering more shrubs, herbs, and other annuals once you have your trees established. If you think of rearing poultry like hens or chickens, ducks, or others, you can let them settle in now.
A long-lasting source of proteins, chickens provide you the scope of enough self-sufficiency. They’re low on maintenance requirements and are the source of eggs and meat as well as fertilizers. Chickens also act as good pest-controlling mediums and working your farm.
3. Getting The Hang Of It
By the time you are all settled and got the hang of backyard farming for self-sufficient production, you can now think of proceeding towards bigger plans of grazing animals. However, this is an option for you to choose as it involves greater commitment and even greater efforts.
If you do think of larger grazing animals, protecting your trees would be a priority.
4. Animals And Working Your Land
Homesteading being the goal of your backyard farming calls for optimum outputs. Alongside outputs, maintaining your land for the same is critical. Besides chickens, other animals to rear on your farm are fish, ducks, goats, rabbits, and cattle.
All of them have different benefits and space needs. For instance, while rabbits or aquaponic fish can be done in the minimal area of the farm, ducks would require a pond. Goats and cattle would take up still larger spaces and they also accelerate the transformation of your land.
An exception to make while you try out the possibilities is honeybees. Bees are the sources of honey and wax that could help you with much other stuff. Besides this basic advantage, they’re also great pollinators that’d enhance the life of your plants and accelerate rapid and greater production.
To start backyard farming is to know that once you’re established, you’ll need to be specific about your produce. Focusing only on producing food for self-sufficient homestead production would not be enough if you haven’t planned what to do with your output.
Besides plans to eat the food yourself, it is critical to be aware of the varieties available and the increasing reliance on small farming methods for better quality. Now the question is about how to preserve and store the produce?
A series of food-preserving solutions will set you up for better results. Fermenting, freezing, canning, and drying would be those relevant tips of food preservation. Let’s get into their details.
One of the most convenient methods of preserving your food produce would be freezing which is also simple to process. Freezing reduces spoilage by preventing the growth of harmful microorganisms. backyard farming produces essential foods in bulk.
You can chop your fruits and vegetables and freeze the same while using them at their peak nutrient levels throughout the year. Vegetable oils are a good preservative for fresh herbs. They reduce the browning of self-frozen herbs. You can always pair frozen vegetables with fresh herbs for winter meals.
Fermentation is the most common method of preserving food. Fermenting your produce involves the process of lacto-fermentation that reduces the sugars of your food into lactic acid. The acid prevents the growth of harmful bacteria.
With the process of lacto-fermentation, the vitamins and enzyme levels, as well as the digesting capabilities of the fermented products, are increased. Using single or mixtures of herbs and spices, you can ferment almost all kinds of vegetables.
If fruits are a part of your backyard farming plants, then infusing is a great preservation method for you to learn. Fruit products infused with vinegar add flavors to salads and marinades as well as cocktails even if it isn’t a seasonal fruit.
Almost all kinds of fruits, as well as flowers, can be infused with vinegar. The vinegar’s acidity levels crush them and their aromas seep into the vinegar adding their flavors to it. You can do the same thing with herbs as well. Infusing herbs into vinegar also disseminates their flavors into the vinegar.
That infused vinegar can be used to add flavors to roasted vegetables, salads, or even braised meats.
Planning for backyard farming should keep you aware of canning requirements for the food that you produce. Canning is a widely embraced idea of food preservation as farming produces foods in bulks.
Boiling the food out of your backyard farming land before canning kills the bacteria, if any, in it. Food can be canned for almost 200 years. It’s important to seal the cans after boiling to prevent the entry of any new bacteria. Canning sterilizes the food in it.
Two of the simple canning methods to apply at home are water bath and pressure canning. Water bath takes shorter periods and can be used for your food products like fruits to make jellies and jams, or chutneys or pickles. It is ideal for fruit products and vegetables for their acidic nature.
Pressure canning, on the other hand, is ideal for poultry, meats, vegetables, fish, or other low acidic varieties.
Backyard farming involves moist soil that soaks up water into your produce. Drying or dehydrating removes the excess moisture that feeds bacteria, mold, and yeasts. You can dehydrate meats, veggies, and fruits.
You can air-dry herbs and spices by ventilating them in a dry, dark space. You can take the help of an oven or electric dehydrator as well.
If you start backyard farming, it is essential to keep all the mentioned points in mind before committing to the bigger picture. Take your time to sort things out and focus on what to grow on your farm and how to grow them.
It is critical to learn all the highs and lows of your project before getting hands-on with it. Once you well-acquaint yourself with the advantages and the associated measure to achieve those pros, you can go ahead with your farm.
James Fields is the founder of Gardener to Farmer. His passion for gardening goes back to his childhood days when he would visit his grandfather during the holidays and help him with the plants in the backyard. This has now translated to creating a dependable resource for gardening.