Grow Your Own Vegetable Garden Challenge 2016

Zombies… They’re coming. Thats why you need to grow your own vegetable garden. Are you ready?

grow your own

Before we get going on this introduction, I want to tell you that I will be updating links to the posts in this series right here in the introduction below. This is also a series on our blog and can navigate that way as well. You may be interested in main gardening page too.

Why Grow Your Own Vegetable Garden

I am sitting at my kitchen table looking out over a thawing yard and garden. Fresh off the boiling pot my DIY maple syrup is filling the room with a wonderful sweet smell. I’m getting inspired to start laying out my summer garden and make plans for producing most of my families produce for the year.

Welcome to the 2016 Grow Your Own Challenge. Last year, we wrote a series on Straw Bale Gardening which was very popular. This year, we thought it would be fun to step it up a notch while you follow along and garden with us. This year, we have a goal of producing as much produce and food for our family as possible (you know … to get ready for the inevitable zombie apocalypse.)

There are a couple of things we had to wrestle with. We didn’t want to be homesteaders. We are suburban parents with four young kids and we live in 2016. We are tech savvy and don’t really see any need to try to live off the grid. We just want to take a summer to see what kind of food could be produced on our own. We don’t have a particularly large yard or acres of extra land anywhere. Our lot is 1/4 acre and I have access to a couple of areas at my nearby parents house. We still want a yard, we still want to be able to go to the store, and we certainly want to live in the modern age. The goal is to demonstrate how easy and good it is to grow your own food.

There are a number of benefits to growing your own produce. The obvious one is growing food for the family. But the secondary reasons include eating better, eating fresher, saving money, teaching kids responsibility, teaching them where food comes from, and making awesome content for our blog. And this one goes without saying … to make a food cache when the zombies come.

Food We Grow and Put Off or Preserve

We live in Minnesota where many native plants that can be harvested grow wild. We will take advantage of our native plants as well as grow our own straw bale garden. We will put off food by canning, drying, preserving, fermenting, and freezing. I will get into a detailed plan for our growing in an upcoming post, but here’s a quick overview of what we are thinking of making:

  • Dried and frozen herbs of all kinds
    • From the garden: basil, parsley, cilantro, chives, tarragon, garlic, dill, etc..
    • From pots: ginger, turmeric (planting ginger)
    • Spices / seasonings: cayenne powder, red pepper flakes, coriander, etc…
  • Fermented items
    • Sriracha
    • Hot Sauce
    • Saur Kraut
  • Red Sauces (Tomato plant calculation)
    • Spaghetti sauce
    • Marinara sauce
    • Pizza Sauce
    • Tomato Juice
    • Salsa
    • Ketchup
  • Pickled Items
    • Pickles
    • Beans
    • Watermelon rinds
    • Asparagus
  • Native Plants
  • Frozen Items
    • Hashbrowns
    • Zucchini Spread
    • Shredded Carrots
  • Root Cellar
    • Sweet potato
    • Taro root
    • Potato
    • Squash
      • acorn
      • spaghetti
      • pumpkin
      • butter nut
  • Decorative gourds
  • Plus, we will have plenty of fresh from the garden produce as well.

Gardens and Food Sources

The primary source for all of this food will be the following:

Read how we started our seeds.

Decorative Plants and Goods

Let’s not forget that gardening and foraging can be beautiful. From time to time we collect some natural items for displays, wreaths, or table settings. We also grow decorative gourds and other pretty plants for flower cuttings. I’ll share some of that as well.

  • Spring bouquets
    • fruit tree flowers (apple, crabapple, etc…)
    • tulips
    • pussy willow
  • Summer flowers
    • willow tree wreaths
  • Fall decorations
    • pumpkins
    • gourds
    • corn stalks
    • decorative grasses
  • Winter decorations
    • dogwood
    • pine bows