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Would you love never having to buy food from the grocery store again? Or at the very least cut back your grocery bill… like in half? I don't know about you, but every time I pay for groceries I swear they've raised the prices again. I end up spending more and more for less and less in my cart.
We do our best to purchase organic, grass-fed, pasture raised, non-GMO foods. But let's be honest, sometimes that can be pretty expensive. I believe it's worth the expense when we can afford it, but sometimes I have to go with items that don't put my bank account into the red. I always purchase organic milk and butter, but I can't always afford the raw version. Anyone else with me?
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It's our goal to raise and grow more and more of our own food. From a health stand point, being more self-sufficient, prepared, and frugal it's the best choice. However, there's always a learning curve when dealing with livestock and plants. The weather isn't consistent and new threats or pests are always cropping up. I've raised cattle my whole life and I've never not grown a garden. But there are still things I'm learning and problems I'm combating.
Our goal with growing our own food is to grow enough so we don't have to purchase the item from the store ever. Obviously, we aren't able to do this with everything. Some items we eat from home while they're in season, other's we grow and also preserve enough to get us through part of the year, and some items we grow enough of to last us through until the next year or growing season.
These are items we raise or grow that I never purchase from the store.
1. Eggs. Our laying hens provide enough eggs to keep us in stock all year round. A few months in the late fall and early winter we run a little lean, but the girls pick back up after molting. For our family 4 laying hens is enough to keep us in eggs. Want to raise your own backyard chickens? Then you absolutely need to check out our 5 Tips to Raising Livestock for Food
2. Tarheel Green Pole Beans. If you've been reading any of my articles, you know I love my families strain of heirloom Tarheel green beans. I've never eaten store bought green beans or purchased them, as a child growing up or as an adult with my own home. With just two 12 foot rows, we grow enough green beans to eat them fresh and to can about 60 pints of green beans. I've 60 pints is just the right amount to keep us through the year. Far as I can track, my family has been saving this same strain of beans for over 100 years.
Pole beans will give you more beans for the space than bush beans. If you're looking to grow enough for a full year, a pole bean will win hands down for volume every time.
3. Blueberries. We have five blueberry bushes and I never purchase them from the store. We gobble them up in the summer months (yes, blue fingers and lips are a total homesteader's fashion statement in August), make up our favorite Low Sugar No Pectin Blueberry Jam, and freeze the rest for smoothies, more jam (I may be slightly addicted), pies, muffins, pancakes, or just plain old munching. Blueberries are easy to grow and here's our tutorial on How to Prune Blueberries for a Larger Harvest, because if we're growing it, we want to get as much as we can, right? Right, the answer is right, just in case ya weren't sure.
4. Raspberries. Seriously, raspberries are easy peasy to grow. We transplanted a row from an old overgrown patch across the fence and they've done beautifully. I adore them in these Raspberry Lemon Cream Cheese Muffins (one bite will have you planting a row) Here's my tutorial on how to grow and prune raspberries. We grow summer bearing raspberries and have about twenty clusters of five to eight canes in each cluster on an approximately twenty foot row.
I love both blueberries and raspberries because they don't require my daily attention or replanting every year. An hour or two in the early spring for pruning and mulching and they provide me with a year's worth of fruit. Pretty amaazing!
We have a small orchard planted, but fruit trees take longer to grow and produce a large enough crop, so while I get some fruit from them, it's not enough to keep us in supply all year. But, I've got this post on How to Plant and Grow Fruit Trees for those of you wanting to put some in. You'll love these tips to make sure you purchase the right kind of fruit trees for your region and to make sure you get fruit.
5. Tomatoes. This was the first year we grew enough tomatoes to make all of our own salsa and tomato sauce. It's not quite summer harvest, but judging by the jars I have left in the pantry, I believe we'll just make it without purchasing any from the store. Oh, my friends, that sounds so wonderful to say. Makes me want to repeat myself, but I'll refrain.
We grew 18 heirloom San Marzano Lungo 2 tomato plants this summer in our off-grid greenhouse, aka high tunnel. That produced just enough tomatoes for fresh eating, stewed tomatoes, salsa, and tomato sauce. I've got another 18 babies tomato seedlings just bursting from the soil underneath our grow light in the living room for this year. Need a larger tomato harvest, than read How to Prune Tomatoes for a Better Harvest.
6. Beef. I never buy beef from the store. Ever, evah, evah. A half a beef keeps our family stocked for a full year. We generally butcher our beef as two-year-old's and they generally weigh out around 700 pounds (hanging weight). The amount to keep you in beef for a full year will depend on the size of your family and how much red meat you eat. For more on raising your own beef, check out Pros and Cons of Raising Grass Fed Beef.
7. Beets. I hated beets as a kid. Ever notice how your taste buds mature? As an adult beets are one of my favorite foods. From pickled, to roasted with garlic and a splash of balsamic vinegar with crumbled goats cheese, to this beet chocolate cake (one of the best cakes you'll ever eat, I promise).
One of the great things about beets is you can grow them almost year long in milder climates. They're one of the first crops in the ground come spring and one of the last come fall. It's all in the resource guide!
We raise a lot of other fruits, vegetables and livestock, but these are the seven items we raise enough of that I don't ever purchase them from the store.
As I look at the drought in California and the rising cost of food, I want others to have the knowledge of growing their own food, too. Our goal is to every year raise more than we did the year before.
Melissa K. Norris inspires people's faith and pioneer roots with her books, podcast, and blog. Melissa lives with her husband and two children in their own little house in the big woods in the foothills of the North Cascade Mountains. When she's not wrangling chickens and cattle, you can find her stuffing Mason jars with homegrown food and playing with flour and sugar in the kitchen.