Self-Sufficiency: Successive Harvests Are Key

One of the most important things to remember if you’re planning to grow your own food is that most perennial crops have a relatively short harvest period. Once asparagus season is over it’s over, and the same goes for apricots and blueberries and almost everything else. (The exception would be plants with edible foliage, such as Malabar Spinach, dandelions and most herbs, which can be harvested as needed throughout the spring, summer and fall.) For the most part, if you want to have fresh food available throughout the growing season you’ll want to plant as many different kinds of crops as possible.

Picture this: you begin enjoying fresh-picked asparagus in March and continue through May and June. By the time that supply peters out the strawberry patch is in full swing. After that come raspberries, then blueberries, then blackberries and grapes. Meanwhile the trees are producing a steady succession of apricots, plums, peaches, pears, apples, walnuts, pecans, pomegranates and persimmons, beginning in June or July and ending with the frosts of November or even December. And if there’s a fruit you particularly love, you can even plant different varieties of it to ripen at different times, and extend your harvest by several months that way. We get grapes and apples from late August through October that way, by having several different varieties of each that ripen one after the other.

Don’t underestimate the value a steady supply of fresh homegrown organic produce can have on your health and grocery budget. Most of the fruits listed above are powerful “superfoods” that will help you look and feel great. Pomegranates are especially magical: every fall I notice that after I’ve been eating a pomegranate a day for a week or so my skin takes on a radiantly healthy glow and I feel incredibly energetic and strong. Last fall I tried freezing the surplus seeds so I can have that boost in the dead of winter, and this is the first year in a very long time that I didn’t succumb to the apathetic depression of “Februaryitis.”

And once you get in the habit of snacking on apricots and plums instead of chips and candy bars, your budget and your body will both show the benefits. The key is to have the next crop ripening as the current one is beginning to fade, and to keep them coming throughout the spring, summer and fall.

Not everything I’ve listed can be grown in every climate, but unless you live in Antarctica there are varieties of most of them that will thrive in yours. For just a small amount of time, sweat and money invested now, you can be enjoying the fruits of your labors for years or even decades to come!

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Categories: food, frugality, Gardening, Life, Self-Sufficiency | 10 Comments

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10 thoughts on “Self-Sufficiency: Successive Harvests Are Key

  1. Neighbor Nancy

    There is a comfort in knowing that your can just forage in your backyard for a meal.

    In the gardening months, I eat my breakfast, snagged from the branches of blueberry, currant, raspberry bushes, on my way to the vegetable garden each morning.

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  2. Debora

    I haven’t tried currents yet — they don’t seem to be available in the nurseries I’ve ordered from — but I would definitely plant them if the opportunity arose. How big do they grow? Would they do alright in a shady area?

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  3. Neighbor Nancy

    Mine grow in a dappled shade and get about 2 hours of afternoon sun. Mine are not full grown, yet, but 36″ hangs in my brain.

    The best source is this little nursery in Arkansas, Pense Nusery. The link is on my page I just ordered 12 more last night for $2.75 a plant. This guy lovingly wraps everything. Last year we ordered over 100 plants from him. They arrived so healthy that nothing died. I have NEVER had that happen before. Although my husband killed some of the blueberries with the weed waker.
    If you order from him, call in the evening, he digs all day and does his own paperwork in the evening, so he is a little hard to catch try what in your brain says Dinnertime.

    I wrote a post on soft fruit sometime this week…
    http://kitewrite.wordpress.com/2009/02/24/
    I ACHE for comments, so come on over and ask away.

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  4. Debora

    I just figured out what to plant along the west end of my house!! Thank you!!

    I love your blog, btw. I’ll be back!

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  5. Neighbor Nancy

    Thank you! (Nancy blushes and hides her face in her flour crusted apron)
    I feel like I am just talking to myself most of the time.
    I love questions. And ache for topics. Feel free to ship my way any homesteady kind of questions. Gardening, cooking, canning, backyard livestock, whatever.
    Someday, I would like to write professionally. This is my how I am finding my way.

    Tonight I think I may write about how to bake your first loaf of bread, so come on over to my back porch and sit a spell.

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  6. Debora

    I just ordered 9 currant bushes — three black, three red and three white. Hopefully they can stand the summer heat here, I’ll probably have to water them as much as the blueberries. It’ll be worth it though, if they live.

    Thanks again for the tip!

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  7. Neighbor Nancy

    I added some more info about gooseberries for you. I forgot that for some reason.

    Who did you order them from? Where you happy with the price?
    About the water, I forget mine frequently, because they are on the opposite side of the house from the spigot. They seem to thrive anyway.

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  8. Debora

    I remember gooseberries from Missouri, maybe I’ll try those here one these of these years.

    I ordered the currants from Pense. The price was good, although shipping was a bit high.

    Gotta go get the spot ready for planting!

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  9. Neighbor Nancy

    Yes, they are really far away from me, also, but it stills ends up costing less total. You’ll love how healthy his stuff is.

    Like

  10. Just passing by.Btw, you website have great content!

    _________________________________
    Making Money $150 An Hour

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