Living in these times has made me more aware of the need to become more self sufficient.
This point is driven home every time I visit a grocery store. (Carefully nowadays.)
Or try to order essential items online.
I don’t want to create panic.
But stocks are depleted.
I’ve been meaning to get more serious about self sufficiency.
So now is the time.
I’m getting a vegetable garden started.
In the past I’ve had poor luck with gardening.
So I’m starting small. Indoors with containers.
I live in an area with very poor soil. So I need to buy a good organic potting mix.
I am also researching how to start seeds indoors.
This year, for the first time, I am sprouting seeds before planting them.
This means only viable seedlings go into the pot. Anything that doesn’t sprout is thrown out.
So far, so good. This seems to result in stronger seeds.
I still have a lot to learn about successful gardening.
But I am moving forward.
Even if I only get a small yield of vegetables it will be deeply satisfying to know I grew them myself.
I hope more people can grow little “Victory Gardens” as we negotiate this brave new world.
Since I am also a newbie to off the grid living (or at least moving in that direction) I reached out to the experts.
At the end of this post you will find a lot of links to other sites that focus on self sufficient living.
How To Become More Self Sufficient
(This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase anything I receive a commission, at no extra cost to you.)
I highly recommend starting a small container garden, in an effort to decrease your dependency upon the food chain.
If you have just a little bit of land container gardens can work really well.
With containers you can actually grow a lot of food, even with very little land.
If you have a little bit of land you can grow enough food for your family, and for others.
If you live in an area with very poor soil, as I do, you will need need good potting soil for your container.
Since my soil is so poor I need to use store-bought soil for everything.
I picked up some really good organic potting soil at my local hardware store.
But you can also find this same brand online, as you can see below.
Don’t forget to sprout your seeds before planting.
You can use an old cotton t-shirt or a paper towel for sprouting.
I am using a moistened and rolled-up puppy pad.
(I am aware that this pad might contain chemicals. But I am desperate to get a garden going, so I make concessions.)
I added water to the puppy pad, enough to wet it but not enough to soak it so that the water leaks through.
Then I put the seeds I plan to use on the moistened pad.
Next, I put it in a warm place and check a few days later.
Whatever is sprouting is planted.
Sprouting seeds before planting seems to make a huge difference.
Beans sprout quickly. Carrots take longer.
I will probably focus on growing beans this year, since they’re so easy to grow.
Hopefully I will have more than enough home-grown vegetables to feed my family, or to barter, sell or give away.
What You Can Do To Become More Self Sufficient
Even if you don’t plan on growing your own food, it’s still a good idea to decrease dependence upon the long-distance food supply.
This year I plan to seek out local farmers for meat and extra produce.
Living through a crisis sort of jolts you awake.
You have renewed appreciation for the local supply chain, which is probably more stable.
It’s probably a good time right now to establish a relationship with a local farmer, so you can become a regular customer.
Local farmers will probably be very important for the near future.
That’s because it’s unlikely we’ll be able to suddenly be able to grow enough of our own food to feed our families.
So establish a relationship with one or more of these local growers now.
Bartering To Become More Self Sufficient
This is also a good time to assess your skills.
What can you make? What can you produce?
Bartering may soon become big.
Already my parents have traded toilet paper for produce. They’re old and doing like going to the grocery store. So a neighbor shops for them and they give him toilet paper.
My parents are not hoarding this necessity. Instead, they’re giving away something that’s become valuable, because they have a little extra.
I’m thinking of what I can make, in order to barter for something else I need.
I’ve been making my own non-toxic cosmetics for years.
One of my successes is non toxic hand and body balm, which can also be used on your face.
Oftentimes I will add essential oils to my basic balm recipe, both for aesthetics and for potential skin soothing properties.
Can I Make My Own Cosmetics?
Self sufficiency can extend to beauty and personal care products.
I order all natural toothpaste online.
But I also know that if I run out I can make my own toothpaste with coconut essential oil and a few other ingredients.
Same with deodorant.
Coconut oil is a staple that all self sufficient homes should have on hand.
It has so many uses and lasts virtually forever.
You can make so many things with coconut oil and a few other base ingredients.
How To Get Started With Self Sufficiency
I am not an experienced homesteader.
Some people are really good at self sufficiency.
They grow their own food and sew their own clothes.
I know homesteading is not one of my strengths. But I still want to do everything I can to become more self sufficient.
This includes learning how to grow my own food and support local farmers.
A lot of good things can come from keeping food production more local.
I realize farm stand food is often more expensive than grocery store specials.
But not always.
Sometimes you can get really good deals at farmer’s markets.
How To Learn How To Homestead
If homesteading doesn’t come naturally to you, here’s my advice.
Pick one thing that you’re good at and focus on that.
Can you sew?
Then maybe you don’t have to grow as much food because you can barter homemade face masks and other essentials, for food and other things that you need.
I’m noticing that lots of people are connecting in ways we didn’t before. Even with physical distancing.
For instance, we’re probably going to need masks going forward, when we go out in public.
I don’t sew.
But a friend of a friend does.
She got me some masks, from her friend who is selling them.
I picked up a bottle of supplements she needed at the grocery store, since I was going to the store anyway.
My friend was mostly sheltering at home, and afraid to enter this particular store.
We met at a parking lot and, keeping our distance, exchanged our purchases.
We exchanged a few words and then drove away.
I have a feeling such exchanges will become more commonplace as we learn to rely upon one another.
Since I’m not an experienced homesteader, I’ve reached out to others who may know more.
Fortunately, there’s a lot of good information on the Internet.
Below you will find links to other blogs with gardening tips and domestic engineering skills.
Gardening Tips for the Beginner
The Homestead Lady, a self sufficiency blog, explains How To Grow Food Fast, if you need it relatively quickly.
A Country Girl’s Life blog has a post on 13+ Easy To Grow Veggies & Fruits for Absolute Beginning Gardeners. (That’s me) and How To Start A Vegetable Garden for Absolute Beginners.
This Ole Mom blog has a post on How To Plant A Vegetable Container Garden.
DIY Raised Garden Beds instructional post from Kippie at Home blog.
Urban Self Sufficiency: How To Grow a Self Sufficient Garden in a Small Yard by Piwakawaka Valley Homestead blog. This blog is published by a homesteader in New Zealand.
As For Me and My Homestead blog has a general post on Becoming Self Sufficient.
Sustainable Cooks blog has published Canning Supplies and Preserving Equipment List.
Beginner Sewer Projects blog has basic sewing instruction. How To Sew Common Stitches By Hand.
How to Mend a Hole in Jeans by Heather Homemade blog.
11 Ways To Become More Self Sufficient by The Organic Goat Lady.
How To Get Started On The Path To Providing For Your Family by Country Living in Cariboo Valley blog. This site has a wealth of other homesteading articles.
The Homesteading Hippie also has a lot of self sufficiency posts, for general information on living more off the grid.
The Rustic Elk is another homesteading blog.
10 Money Saving Tips From Survivors of The Great Depression (Depression Era Tips for Saving Money Fast) from Healing Harvest Homestead blog. Check out this blog for many other self sufficiency tips.
How To Earn A Full-Time Income While Living Off The Grid is an excellent resource for homesteading and financial survival, from the Practical Self Reliance blog.
Information on Ordering Chickens Online from the Chicken Scratchy blog.
I hope this gives you a head start on how to become more self sufficient.
I’m not shooting for 100 percent.
I’d be happy with moving off the grid just a little.
Remember that you’re not alone. We’re all in this together and going forward we’ll help one another.