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Self Sufficiency for Beginners: Why Now is the Best Time to Start a Garden

It may go without saying, but the effect COVID-19 has had on the entire population has been illuminating in many ways. People who would have never had any interest in self-sufficiency, are now seeing the value in having at least (even if a little) capability in fending for themselves, or learning many of the "lost skills" that were once ubiquitous even one or two generations ago. What might have once been in theory a good idea to learn, or a “one day” aspiration, now feels like a possible necessity.


While we hope this situation will all improve in the very near future, the fragility of our system of convenience has been illuminated in many ways through these events. Hopefully you can also see the positive effects it is having on our world as well. More and more people are becoming keenly aware of the value in gardening, local communities, and local farmers. It has become more worthwhile than ever to take steps towards self-sufficiency as an individual, family, and as a community.

On Urban Exodus, we have showcased a series of modern farmers and homesteaders, their struggles, joys, and journeys towards leaving the city to live closer to the land. And while we know it is not possible for everyone to leave the city, or that everyone even wants to, the broader message behind Urban Exodus has been to embrace “country life” wherever you may be. For many, that has looked like a move back to a more rural setting - but it can simply mean being more in touch with your food sources, becoming more self-sufficient, connecting with the natural world, and living a lifestyle gentler on the planet.


Living in a rural area can often mean that out of necessity you must learn to do things yourself - whether it means taking a stab at great Indian cooking, repairing your own dishwasher, or growing some fresh herbs - the mentality of country living has always come with a sense of DIY-inventiveness. Now, with the extra time at home you may have on your hands, take this opportunity to slow down, start a new project, or learn a new skill.


Feeling confident in your own abilities does not have to come from a place of fear or a panicked “prepper” mentality.” Rather, the ways in which you can bolster your own abilities to care for yourself, and become less reliant on others for the every day needs in your life can be calming, confidence-boosting, and nourishing.


I hope that some of these ideas I can share from other wonderful creators across the web can be helpful, and bring you some joy and confidence in your own abilities.


These are some great tips for beginners, for those of you living in small spaces, and for those of you who feel motivated once and for all to begin your home gardening journey, repurpose your lawns, balconies, and even extra closets to join in on what I see as our next food revolution.


If you Live in an Urban Setting/Small Apartment:

How to Regrow Kitchen Scraps

A simple way to regrow lettuce from grocery store scraps.


Setting up a Basic Indoor Grow Room:

If you have an extra room in your house or apartment. Think of converting it into an indoor grow room.


How to Create a Balcony Garden

How to use any extra outdoor space you have to grow vegetables.


Closet Farming: How to Make Everything

An inspiring instructional on how to set up a thriving mini-garden inside of a small closet space.


DIY Urban Compost Bin and Herb Planter

A great way to offload some of your compost, and start a little herb garden with materials you might already have.


DIY: Grow an Indoor Compost Garden

Give your kids a helpful project: set up a miniature regrowing station, using veggie scraps and a little compost.


DIY Apartment Worm Compost for Apartment-Dwellers

Using minimal supplies, or ones you likely already have, set up a small-space vermicompost.


Worm Composting 101

Quick video tutorial on how to make a worm bin repurposing plastic storage containers.


How to Make a DIY Compost Bin

How to make a compost bin without worms.


How to Use Finished Compost

Ideas for everyone. Especially if you are unfamiliar with using compost. There is a reason growers call it black gold!


If you have a backyard:

9 Survival Gardening Crops

Crops to grow that are the most calorie dense and bountiful with the least amount of effort.


How to Make Compost and Maybe Save the World Too

Basic instructions for starting a backyard compost from scratch.


14 Store Bought Vegetables & Herbs you Can Regrow

More ideas for how to repurpose your food scraps.

How to Grow Potatoes in Containers

A super calorie-dense and nutritious vegetable, potatoes are a great crop to grow yourself.


6 Simple Seeds to Plant Now

Easy plants to get started growing now (for most zones in the US).


Planning Your First Vegetable Garden

If you have more space, and ambitions to really get your garden going, check out this great guide to starting your first vegetable garden.


Finding Materials:

First, I would recommend reaching out to your friends, neighbors, and local community members to see if anyone has any resources that they can share for free or for trade. New Jersey farmer and activist Nate Kleinman, has set up a call to action for communities all across the country to get in touch, to share supplies and seeds in order to grow Corona Victory Gardens.


While I don't wish people to panic, there is a sense of calm that comes from providing directly for yourself, and working closely with friends and neighbors to come together from a sense of mutual benefit and community. Amidst much economic uncertainty, it is both prudent and neighborly to grow your own food and food for those who need it.

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