Updated: Dec 17, 2020
I’ve been throwing this information around in my head for the last few weeks, but my brain is kind of full of a lot of other things and I’m not feeling especially “author-y”. Still though, I feel this is usable information and I wanted to put it out there so I’m just doing it.
What if you had to transition from your 30 day food supply to feeding yourself or at least supplementing a large portion of your own food. If you were starting from scratch, what is the best strategy for moving forward?
In my opinion, I would divide it up into several smaller plans. Today’s plan, next weeks plan, the seasons plan, and then future goals.
If you haven’t started growing anything, how can you have a plan for today? By learning to identify the edible food already growing in your yard. Most yards in Florida, even in residential or gated communities will have more than a few wild edibles.
Some super common and easy to identify are biden pilosa, American beautyberry, purslane, and clover. Some landscaping plants are also edible such as loquats, daisies, dandelion, and roses. Want a caffeine boost? Chances are good you live near a park or business with a yaupon holly tree. The tea from the leaves contains caffeine.
There is plenty of information out there to get you started but I think the most comprehensive site for Florida is Greene Dean’s Eat the Weeds. (https://www.eattheweeds.com.) He is very informative and educational and has a lot of detailed videos posted on You tube as well. Educate yourself, realize there are some plants out there that can kill you, don’t be in a hurry to put everything in your yard in your mouth and soon you will find that you already have food all around you.
Next Week’s Plan
You then need to get some plants in the ground that will start making food for you in a hurry. Beans, squash, radishes and sunflowers all come up really fast. If you have a lot of seed, you could grow some beans for sprouts along with some micro greens and be eating those in a week. Continuous bean sowing will make greens for a few weeks until the larger plants are ready to eat.
You don’t have to wait for your plants to fruit before they are food. Bean leaves, squash leaves and sweet potato leaves can be cooked and eaten as greens just don’t take so many you kill the plant. Every part of the sunflower can be eaten as well and the immature heads can be steamed and eaten like artichokes. Sow thickly and eat the small plants as you thin, letting the rest grow to maturity.
You can eat the radish tops like cooked greens while you wait on the bulbs to mature. They are a very fast growing plant, most maturing in about 30 days. If you don’t like radishes, think of them as tiny turnips and roast or mash them instead of eating them raw. They are really good cooked and so are the greens. They are also usable to mark the rows of slower growing crops as they will be gone before the next crop needs the space.
For the Season
You need to know where you are in the year before you know what you can plant. You can’t just put seed in the ground and hope for the best, especially not in Florida. Think ahead for the next few months. It won’t do you any good to start those lettuce and tomato seedlings right before the heat of the summer, they will die in the heat before you ever harvest. Keep a copy of a good seasonal calendar that let’s you know month by month what to plant. If you can’t find a good one, you can use mine.
Nutrition will also come into play. You will need starches, proteins, and a variety of greens. Fruits would be good too. What this assortment will consist of depends on the time of year you are planting, not on what you will necessarily want to eat. You need to plant what will grow with the most success and provide you with needed calories and nutrients. Then plant as much as you have space for.
Future goals are planning for expansion should you have to, or want to, continue making food. These could include things that make it easier for you to obtain food, such as permaculture plants that grow all year, and wild edibles that you transplant on purpose so you can forage at home.
They could include things that add more variety to your diet, such as seasonal fruit trees. Find out what fruits when, then plan so you have at least one thing in fruit every month.
It could also include animal proteins. Chickens are easy to care for and give you an egg a day per bird. A basic aquaponic set up can be done for very low cost using plastic kiddie wading tubes and set up in most garages enabling you to grow your own fish. If you have the space outside, you can use the aquaponics to grow both fish and vegetables.
It could include plants for medicine
, health, and pest control and luxury items such as oil crops or food to turn into alcohol.
As with everything, getting started growing food starts with a beginning step. Hopefully this is enough information for those who want to do so to start taking those steps and formulating a plan toward food independence.