If you live high in the mountains or up north, you will most likely want to have some kind of greenhouse to either start plantings early or for year round harvesting. I have one friend in Montana who has several small greenhouses. One is for tropical type plants and that greenhouse is heavily heated via geo-thermal heating and includes some citrus trees. He has another greenhouse for winter harvesting of produce and another smaller one for sprouting and seedlings. The latter two do have some heating but they are more temperate rather than an actual hot house type greenhouse. However in all three, (except for the trees) he utilizes the waffle garden method with raised sides. He also has the local bee keeper put a partial hive in his greenhouses to facilitate the pollination of his winter crop.
Another other aspect to self reliance gardening is the saving of seeds for the next season. Different plants require different methods for preserving their seeds and you want to make sure you utilize open-pollinated or heirloom plants and seeds in order to be able to save some seeds from your garden for the next season.
“Why try to explain miracles to your kids when you can just have them plant a garden.” - Robert Brault
In short you do not want any hybrid or GM (genetically modified) seeds or plants, as these types will only pass on the plant genetics of one of the parents of the hybrid and not produce another hybrid. On top of that many GM plants are genetically male sterile so the plants don’t produce enough viable (fertilized) seeds for sprouting a new plant for the next season.
As with any garden, flower or vegetable, east, west, north or south, you will need to check what planting Zone you are in and adjust for altitude so the most likely first and last frost dates are more accurate. These Zones will for the most part take into consideration the length of the growing season. The Zones will also help you identify which plant varieties will do best in your location.
"Those who labour in the earth are the chosen people of God ." -- Thomas Jefferson
All kinds of things can be used as containers for your garden from old handbags, boots, cans, plastic tubs, to old kiddie pools and even an old chest of drawers. Let your imagination flow. Only things you need to worry about are drainage, if the item is deep enough for the plant you are going to grow or if it is too porous you will need to add some holes for drainage.
Used, but clean plastic soda bottles, milk and juice jugs can be used as mini-greenhouses to shield early plantings. Or you can make cheap hoop-houses or teepees out of PVC pipe, coat hangers and sheet plastic for individual plants or a whole row.
Got limited space? Grow vertical. Hang plants for strawberries, herbs, spices and the like. Make staggered ladder shelves and use the coat hangers to make a lattice for tomatoes, cucumbers, squash and other vine plants. A friend of mine turned a chest of drawers into a progressive tiered container garden. His deep rooted plants were to the back as that had the deepest sections of soil. I have asked him to send me some pictures because it is one of those things that has to be seen to be believed and he says it was really easy, because even I could make it!
"A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in." --Greek proverb
Now please understand that I am not some kind of expert gardener. Nope, shriveled tomatoes and exploding melons are proof of that. I also never expected to get all the know-how I needed from the back of a seed packet, especially since now days I would need a magnifying glass to read the thing. Instead I have accumulated several books over the years that I consider my “gardening bibles”, great teachers from family and friends to neighbors and a good dose of luck. All of which will come in handy when I move north and rural.
"There are no gardening mistakes, only experiments." -- Janet Kilburn Phillips
Of the tons of books and such out there on gardening, I have a few that I strongly recommend as they are good for just about any type of food gardening, be it container, kitchen sized or a larger rural size. I have never attempted “hobby farm” sized gardening so I don’t have any recommendations for that large a scale. I also have not had the opportunity to grow a good nut or fruit orchard on a small, medium or large scale, so that kind of reference is missing. The references I do list do have chapters on these trees and scrubs which so far have been perfect for me.
- Carrots Love Tomatoes by Louise Riotte.
- Four Season Harvest by Eliot ColemanTurner
- Seed Sowing and Saving by Carole B.
- Desert Gardening Fruits & Vegetables by George Brookbank
- The Complete Guide to Herbal Medicines by Charles W. Fetrow and Juan R. Avila
- Herbal Remedy Gardens by Dorie Byers
- The Medicine Wheel Garden by E. Barrie Kavasch
For a quick reference and a downloadable spreadsheet see “The Lazy Gardener's Automatic Seed Starting Chart” with notes at http://www.yougrowgirl.com/grow/seedstartingchart_lazy.php Her Notes PDF is at http://www.yougrowgirl.com/grow/seedstart_chart.pdf
For growing season, last and first frosts see any one of the following:
Hardiness and Zone Maps
Enter Zip code at http://www.thevegetablegarden.info/planting-zones for details
For some great downloadable PDFs:
Self Reliant Agriculture for Drylands- 3_02 at desertrestore.ORG
vegetable_gardening_containers_E-545 at aggi.horticulature.tamu.EDU
Straw Bale Method No Dig Garden-FS05 NDG at aboutTheGarden.COM.au
Growing In Straw Bale-is1678 at msucares.COM
Garden Fall Freeze 32F at ncdc.noaa.GOV
Garden Fall Freeze 28F at ncdc.noaa.GOV
Garden Spring Freeze 32F at ncdc.noaa.GOV
Garden Spring Freeze 28F at ncdc.noaa.GOV
Garden Freeze free 32F at ncdc.noaa.GOV
Garden Freeze free 28F at ncdc.noaa.GOV
General Seed and Garden Information:
http://www.self-reliance-exchange.com/?p=4315 Article on gardening
http://www.seedstrust.com/ Open Pollinated Heirloom Seeds
http://www.self-reliance-exchange.com/?p=2147 Saving Seeds
http://www.self-reliance-exchange.com/?p=294 Homemade Greenhouse
http://www.arkinstitute.com/ Open Pollinated Heirloom Seeds
http://www.territorialseed.com/ Open Pollinated Heirloom Seeds
http://www.seedsavers.org/Content.aspx?src=aboutus.htm Open Pollinated Heirloom Seeds
http://www.slowfood.com/ & http://www.slowfoodusa.org/ Open Pollinated Heirloom Seeds
http://www.heirloomseeds.com/ Open Pollinated Heirloom Seeds
http://www.seedsofchange.com/ Open Pollinated Heirloom Seeds
http://www.victoryseeds.com/ Open Pollinated Heirloom Seeds
http://orchardhouseheirlooms.com/ Open Pollinated Heirloom Seeds
http://readynutrition.com/resources/survival-seeds-to-sow-heirloom-gmo-or-non-gmo_17012010/ Survival Seeds to Sow - Heirloom, GMO or Non-GMO
http://www.survivalistseeds.com Seeds packed for long term storage
http://survivalseedbank.com/ Seeds packed for long term storage
http://www.non-hybrid-seeds.com/sp/seed-packs.html Seeds packed for long term storage
"We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses."-- Abraham Lincoln