Over the past 17 years of living off the grid one constant for us has been our large garden.
We have employed a lot of time saving methods and by far the best one is the keeping of chickens. This is a picture of the portable hoop coop that we built that allows the chickens to be rotated around the garden.
Chickens are by far one of the most hardy and self sufficient animals that you can grow, they are very adept at living off the land, perhaps better than any other. We just provide them with a little supplementary food and water and they give us eggs, fertilizer and they keep the weeds and grass clipped too. They are an amazing part of our off the grid plans.
As soon as the first sprouts are out there we have them working, I kindly refer to them as the working chickens, as opposed to the chicken coop chickens. Of course they work too, eating household scraps and producing eggs too, but it is different when they are in the coop it seems.
When the garden is planted the chickens are simply moved to an unused section or to the edges where they happily munch seeds and weeds all summer. In the fall they are put to work in the garden working the land where we are finished growing.
Early and late plantings have become the normal in our homestead garden, it seems living off the grid really fits well with the seasons and how to make it work is to look at the longest possible growing season you can.
In our area the fall garden is truly lovely, but it requires us to keep planting so maturity dates coincide with the fall.
We plant right up to July 1 here, and that gives us fresh vegetables directly from the garden right in to the end of November. And in December we are still digging carrots and picking Brussels Sprouts too, as well as greens and cabbage.
Looking at the garden as a long term investment allows us to work only a little each day at it and reap benefits for a longer period of time. The old theory of plant it Memorial Day and it is done the first week of September are definitely gone.
We start eating from the garden in March usually with Parsnips that were actually planted the year before. They overwinter and take on the best flavor after being completely frozen all winter. By far the best vegetable you will ever taste. No, the ones from the grocery store are not even close.
Take the time and plant them, and wait, it is worth it.
Then along comes Asparagus, a definite favorite around here. When we first moved to our home we wanted to grow a wide variety of veggies and Asparagus was one we really wanted.
Through the seasons it is definitely a sure hit, with never a crop failure.
Then comes the summer vegetables which we always enjoy, peppers, tomatoes and melons.
But we look forward to the fall garden the most, fresh greens after frost are just awesome, they will take more frost than you think too.
Whether you are living off the grid or just want to improve your garden give these suggestions a try.