Gardening is a popular pastime. It can bring many benefits including improved mental and physical health and a greater connection to the outdoors. But gardening for homesteaders goes beyond that by bringing a sense of accomplishment when the food on your table comes directly from your backyard.
For serious homesteaders, gardening is more than a hobby. It’s an integral part of the homesteading lifestyle. By properly planning your garden each season and preserving the bounty, you can feed your family throughout the year. So, here are some less-common crops that can help you become even more self-sufficient.
Many gardeners love growing string beans or fresh peas, and with good reason. They’re relatively easy to grow, delicious, and nutritious. But have you considered adding dry beans to your garden plan? With a bit of extra effort at harvest time, you can have a supply of protein-rich beans to last throughout the winter. You can use dried beans for soups, stews, chili and many other dishes, too.
Sweet corn is a summer pleasure, but there are many other types of corn that can help fill your pantry for winter. Popcorn is easy to grow and provides a fun treat. You can use dry corn kernels in soups, stews and other recipes. You can grind many heirloom varieties of flint corn, also called field corn, into cornmeal for bread, tortillas, and other dishes, too.
The only challenging part of growing garlic is planning ahead. In most climates, you need to plant garlic in the late fall for the next year’s harvest. After that, it’s easy to care for. Once you harvest and dry it, you can store garlic until the next harvest. Garlic provides you with a flavorful base for almost any dish. Also, it’s a key ingredient for some home remedies.
Beyond these ideas, there are many other crops for the homesteader to consider adding to their garden. Plant perennial herbs for culinary or medicinal use, fruit trees and berries. Try onions, tomatoes, peas, asparagus, and heirloom grains, which can all be a valuable part of the homestead.