Providing a self sufficient food source can be accomplished in many, many different ways.
In this series of articles I'm going to discuss gardening techniques that work for me. I think most would work in many other situations when adapted to your particular climate. That's why I'm sharing my experiences with you, because I've tried to use common sense techniques in my approach so that they could be duplicated by me or others in whatever situation we find ourselves in.
First, I suggest you give thought to what you and your family like to eat that you could provide for them in your current situation. Just because you like beef does not mean you can provide that to your family in a self sufficient way. If you don't realistically have the space to keep beef cattle then how can you include that as part of your self sufficient plan? There is no use planning for something that you cannot immediate put to use. Save those ideas for after you have a solid plan established and working for you THEN add in the other things. Common Sense.
So think of things you like to eat that would fit into your current situation. Do you like tomatoes? Could you grow tomatoes in your current situation? Do you like green beans? Could you grow green beans in your current situation? The point in this is not to determine HOW MUCH you can grow right now but WHAT you can grow right now.
Honestly, if you have never grown your own food, the first year is all about learning. Learning what to plant, how to plant it, how to harvest it, and how save the seeds from the harvest to plant for next years crops. Learn, Learn, Learn. So, don't get too uptight about it. Know that everything will not necessarily be successful but at least you are taking steps to begin the journey to self sufficiency.
So, let me share my list of the vegetables I grow each and every year. I think most of you will find yourselves saying, yep that's what I want too with some minor additions and subtractions.
Here's my list:
Tomatoes - Bonnie's Best, Amish Paste, Sebastapol Cherry
Green Beans - Blues Lake or Kentucky Wonder
Yellow Squash - Crookneck or Straightneck
Corn - Silver Queen or King, the only hybrid item I plant followed up with planting Stowell's Evergreen Sweet for providing sustainability.
Green Peppers - California Wonder
Jalapeno Peppers - no particular variety
Cayenne Peppers - no particular variety
Pickling Cucumbers - Boston Pickling
Okra - Clemson Spineless
Garlic - early and late California White
Onions - Whatever is available locally, I have not yet started saving my onion seed but plan too this year. I will most likely use Australian Brown though.
Cabbage - All Seasons
Collard Greens - Georgia Southern
Extras will include beets, kale, turnip greens, spaghetti squash, and other things I might like to "try" like different types of grains, potatoes, or other "special" vegetables. Those I would not be growing to depend on at this time, just to experiment but they might be added later to the permanent list if I choose.
That's it. Nothing really special. Just basic good vegetables that are relatively easy to grow each and every year and will usually produce at least something for my efforts. These would give you most of the vitamins and minerals you would need to not only survive but thrive in most cases.
I live in the south so I am blessed with a long growing season, however, the vegetables I have listed have varieties that will fit in any growing area in the US and in fact, most of the world. The varieties I have listed are what I use. Most of them will work anywhere in the US but please feel free to research your area to possibly find varieties that might produce better for your given climate situation.
Next, we'll get into how to prepare a place for these vegetables to grow.