Being more self-sufficient is something that many people today are trying to achieve. Having your own supply of fresh fruit, vegetables and meat is a big step towards being self-sufficient.
Grow your own food
Food is a great place to start in your journey towards having a self-sufficient lifestyle. Food can be grown in the ground, in green houses or even in containers around your house.
For most NZ families one of the biggest bills you have is the weekly grocery bill. If you grow food as much as you can throughout the year, you can save a lot of money at the grocery store.
If you live on a decent sized town section or have a few acres, you can grow lots of food to feed your family. We live on 2 acres and have an orchard, large garden, berry patches, grape vines, a herb garden, and livestock. We haven’t even come close to utilizing all of our land yet.
Eat according to the Season
If you eat the fruit and veges that are in season instead of buying imported or out of season produce you can save a lot of money.
We eat lots of salads in the summer when lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber are growing well and ready to harvest. In the winter we eat winter vegetables like brassicas (broccoli, cabbage etc) and root vegetables like carrots, parsnips, yams etc.
Some foods can be stored for later use quite well like pumpkins, potatoes and apples.
Preserve or freeze food for later use
Since we can’t grow everything we want to eat all year round it’s great to preserve or freeze some of the food you grow for later use.
Tomatos are easy to preserve or freeze and then are great to use for yummy winter soups and casseroles. When you grow tomatos you’ll often end up with a lot of them all coming ripe at the same time in mid-late summer so don’t let any go to waste.
Most vegetables can be frozen or preserved by cooking them and storing in bottles or jars. Here’s a great article on how to preserve fruit in jars https://lovefoodhatewaste.co.nz/how-to-bottle-fruit/
Grow veges all year round in a green house
One of the reasons that we end up relying on supermarkets for our food today is to get fruit vegetables that we can’t grow in the climate or season we live in. For much of NZ the growing season can be quite short so getting a Green House can help give you more time to grow more of the fruit & veges you need to feed your family.
Where I live in the South Island of NZ there isn’t much I can plant in the vege garden before October or the frosts will kill any young seedlings or plants. We added a Green House to our backyard to allow us to grow some veges all year round and to extend our growing season. Now we can grow much more fruit and veges than before with our plants protected from frosts, wind and snow.
Green houses also help you to control pests that can ruin your fruit/vege crops. Most Green Houses can be shut up so that those white butterflies can’t get in. Outpost has some great Green Houses that have strong timber framing and are designed to last the test of time. The timber framing makes it easy to put up extra shelves because you can just nail into it wherever you want.
Grow your own meat
If you have a lifestyle block you could grow livestock and be more self-sufficient when it comes to eating meat. On a good year it can be quite cheap to buy a few lambs or calves from a local farmer.
Sheep farmers will sometimes have orphan lambs that they find in their paddocks and bottle feed them until they are weaned that you can buy. Or you could go to your local sale yards or look on Trademe for some store lambs that are already weaned if you don’t Dairy farmers are a good place to buy calves from. Many of them will have beef cross calves that they sell. You can choose to buy a very young calf (has to be at least 4 days old) and milk feed them for approx. 10 weeks until they can be weaned or just buy already weaned calves. It’s usually cheaper to buy the young calves and rear them yourself but it obviously takes a lot more time and work on your end.
Get some chickens to become self sufficient for eggs and meat
Chickens can help you to have a more self-sufficient lifestyle by producing eggs and even meat if you want. Left to free range you won’t need to feed them much, just a few garden and food scraps might do depending on how many birds you have.
Some breeds of chickens are purpose bred to produce eggs pretty much all year round like Hyline or Brown Shavers. Other breeds of hens will lay less eggs but are better eating if that’s what you want to do eg Light Sussex.
If you get a rooster then you can let you hens rear some chicks. This will give you more chickens that you can then either eat or sell to someone else.
You’ll need a good large hen house to keep your chickens happy. They like a sheltered, draft free place to perch at night and comfortable nest boxes to lay their eggs.
How to become self-sufficient for water
We are fortunate in NZ that most places we live have a reasonably reliable water supply. There are times however when it would be beneficial to have a back-up water or secondary water source.
For example, a large tree fell on our road in a storm a couple of years ago. We were without power for days. This meant no electricity or water because we use a bore with an electric pump. This made me think because had I not been storing water, we would’ve been up a creek.
So think about your water source. Do you have water stored in case of an emergency?
One popular option for water self-sufficiency is to collect rain water. You can set up a tank and have rain water running into it from your house or shed roof gutters. Here’s some information on how to set up a rain water collection system https://www.smarterhomes.org.nz/smart-guides/water-and-waste/collecting-and-using-rainwater/