So now we move on to the selection of plants. Again this may be higher on the list, but we will discuss it here. The reality is that all of these parts are intertwined.
Selection of plants can be broken down into several categories. First we need to consider what the animals will be eating. So one consideration is the pasture, the other consideration is the crops. Second we will look at the garden plants. Third, and finally, comes the orchard and berry plants.
Plants for the animals.
As can be noted from examining the blog here, we are fans of grazing systems. This allows for less equipment and generally more self-sufficiency. We prefer rotational grazing, but I digress. So what plants do you want to have in your pastures? Pasture should include one or two types of grasses. Typical types include Fescue, Ryegrass,Timothy, Orchard Grass and Kentucky Bluegrass. Other plants that are typically included in pasture are red clover, ladino clover, white clover and alfalfa. It is recommended to have a variety of these plants within a given pasture to provide varying amounts of protein, vitamins, and mineral. Certain plants also thrive at different times of the year. By varying the types of plants within a given pasture, the grazing season can be extended both earlier and later in the year than normal.
Perhaps crops are what many people think of when they think of plants on the farm. Crops are used for many different purposes, the main one of which is food for the animals. Field corn is a crop that is vital to many farming operations. It is very versatile and can be fed to numerous species of animals. Corn has traditionally been a very inexpensive feed source, though that had changed some with the subsidization of the ethanol fuel industry. Soy beans are another crop that is grown in abundance in the United States. It is used as a protein source and also as a way to fix nitrogen into the soil when used in a crop rotation. Other crops that are commonly grown are Wheat, Barley, Rye, Oats, Spelts and many others. Some of these, such as oats and wheat, can be used for two purposes. The grain is harvested for use as a feed and the stalks can be harvested for use as straw (animal bedding).
The vegetable garden is one of the main focal points of a homestead. A garden serves to provide fresh food and also bountiful harvests that can be stored for winter usage. The plants that can be grown in a garden are limitless. We will discuss a few here, but the scope of this particular series does not permit for an in depth discussion.
Sweet Corn is the starting point, as it is one of our favorites. The only downside that I see with Sweet corn is the space required to grow it, though the space can be maximized by using interplanting (we plant melons within the rows of corn, which allows the melons to spread out. Both melons and corn take a lot of space, but by growing them in the same row, we can capitalize on some of that space.) Beans are another key crop. We also raise green beans (Green Jade works well as a variety). There are many types of beans, several of which can be dried.
Other vegetables that are traditional garden staples include lettuces, spinach, onions, beets, cucumber, zucchini, squash and many others. Heirloom vegetables are those that are passed from generation to generation. They serve to preserve the plant genetic variability. Heirloom plants (as long as they do not get cross pollinated) will produce seed that it is true, meaning that the seed can be saved and replanted. Once replanted, the seed will produce plants that are the same variety as the mother plant. Hybrids plants do not produce seeds that will grow predictable plant offspring. Oftentimes the seed is not viable. At other times , the seed will produce on of the parent varieties that was used to make the hybrid plant. An example of this is Incredible Sweet Corn. This is our favorite sweet corn. Saving the seeds and replanting them will usually produce a dent corn or field corn that was used in the cross pollination to get the incredible hybrid.
We utilize several varieties of heirloom vegetables so that we can save the seeds if desired. A few examples are blue hopi corn (Below)
and golden bantam corn. Heirloom seeds can be purchased from several suppliers. We usually make our selection from Fedco Seeds.
Orchards and Berries
The third and final category for homesteading plants includes Orchards fruits and berries. This category will be finished in another post due to space and time constraints.
- Start a Self-Sufficient 1-Acre Homestead (rajultrivedi.wordpress.com)