Food self sufficiency tips and hacks

I wanted to make a separate thread for separate Youtubes and tools and tips so they wouldn’t get lost in the other thread. I’ll start off with mphgardener. I think he retired from making videos but if you go back to the start of his posts there is a wealth of knowledge on alternative growing. Taught me just about everything worth knowing on the subject. He’s a good old boy.

These are just a bunch of other out of the box ways to grow. I have done some of them. Even without much to work with a person can grow a lot.


I have to recommend David the Good, or as he used to be called, Survival Gardener.

His best skill is transforming dirt into soil, and tree splicing.

He also has a lot of affordable small books.


Livestock raised on grain will return only 10-20% of the calories in that grain as meat. If food self sufficiency is a goal, livestock that can forage like goats and chickens are best. I might mention bees as forage animals as well.

Humans can forage too. Learning what is edible in your natural environment is good for humans as well. Besides edible forage plants… fishing especially can be a great source of protein that doesn’t “cost” anything but time and some very simple gear. Hunting game can work but I think fishing is more practical if the environment suits. Hunting is more seasonal, likely to be regulated (assuming we aren’t SHTF) and requires a lot more skill and expensive gear compared to fishing.

Of course eating more grain and vegetable calories directly (vegetarian) is also helpful. Chickpeas are very versatile non meat protein source as are beans in general. Dry beans store easily and while most need to be soaked before cooking, it’s not much of a hardship if the alternative is being hungry.

Another useful point is to avoid food waste and spoilage. Freezing, canning, dry storage, cool storage… whatever works but make sure it works. Spoiled food is still fine for animals of course but again - you are only getting back 10-20% of the calories. And of course… finish what’s on your plate!

Black soldier flies / larva are an interesting protein source for chickens or other animals perhaps. The larva will consume all kinds of leafy waste. There are plans online for larva “farms” that are easy enough. “BSL” is a common abbreviation to search on. Chickens + BSL is an interesting system if larger animals are impractical.

Mushrooms grow easily enough on wood shavings and can be grown almost anywhere because they don’t need light. Mushrooms are a good way to liven up a (mostly) vegetarian diet and add some protein that might otherwise be tough to get.

Hydroponics can be a little “fiddly” but if water and/or good soil is scarce it can make sense. There is a guy in Australia with a neat hydroponic setup using roof gutter and rock wool for growing media. His youtube channel is worth a look if you are interesting in hydroponics on the cheap. Ollas (terracotta jugs that seep water) in the soil can be an easy way to save water if that’s what is scarce. Drip irrigation may be easier still with all the cheap plastic tubing available though it will be less sparing with water use.

If fertile soil is an issue “Terra Preta” and chinampas are interesting rabbit holes. Otherwise yea… composting and getting your NPKs where they need to be is key. Humans and livestock produce all three if need be. Having plants access them safely and hygienically is the tricky bit but with enough time those resources can be safely cycled through growing fields.

Permaculture is interesting but the community seems to thrill at making it complex to understand with systems, classes and what not which puts me off. As best I can tell the revolves around logically sited swales to hold onto water that might otherwise run off and a focus on perennial plants that work well together in the given environment. Can I skip class now?

Food forests are an interesting concept for sure. But basically that’s just planting perennials that produce food: nuts and fruit mostly. That makes tons of sense to me? Trees/bushes and their deeper root systems are better at dealing with scarce water (generally). And you don’t need to plant every year. What’s not to like?


That’s what I like about David the Good, he touches all those topics and doesn’t make it complicated. He actually bothers a lot of other permaculture people because they think he’s “too chaotic” with his process. His booklets also aren’t super technical. “Compost Everything” dispels a lot of composting myths and wives tales that people have repeated.

He also shows that row gardening is still very viable. Especially in low rainfall areas, row distancing can be very helpful.


One thing to keep in mind, there are essential fats that you can’t live without, there are no essential. carbs.


Rabbit starvation is a thing.

Nuts, legumes and seeds are good sources of fat. Most wild game will be very lean but will have some. I’m not sure about wild caught fish.

Farm yard chicken is going to be leaner than store-bought but probably offers enough fat to keep going. Goats produce milk and it’ll have fats for you either drinking directly or as cheese.

If the climate suited them I’d have olive trees for sure. That is a very easy source of oil and I like the taste which counts for something. It’s apparently good for you too.


When we lived in the city, I loved reading and watching about permaculture. Now that we have the space, I can’t afford the time. Besides, the resting time in front of the computer it better spent at



If you are new to food dehydration I’ll give you a tip about drying onions and garlic. Don’t do it in the house. Anyone else living with you will be very unhappy. Even Broccoli is iffy. You will need a couple gallons of air freshener to make a dent in the smell. Running a load of potatoes through your dehydrator after onions will absorb the smell inside the unit and won’t alter the taste of the dried taters.


This is my second year using these seed starter trays. I think they are great. Heavier construction than the normal 1020 cell trays and the cells are deeper than most. There are only a few crops that I need to fill a 72 cell tray with and keeping smaller qualities separated and marked in them is always an issue. With these you just fill with starting mix, seed them, water in the bottom and a dome over the top. Easy to maintain. Usually out of stock this time of year

These are the grow lights I use. I have two foot on my seed starting shelves simply because I don’t have space in that area for a four foot shelf. I have four footers in the greenhouse, enough to cover two hundred square foot. They have worked well for me and are affordable.


Other supplies I find useful.

Clips for running tomato plants up strings. Average about 10 clips per plant. I use plastic baling twine. These clip snap right on it.

Net pots for starting hydroponic plants. Seeds started in Rockwool cubes that go in the pots.

Cheap pump just right for aireating compost or worm casting teas.


There are essential amino acids from proteins that you cannot live without as well, and many are hard to come from homestead vegan type of diet because most plants don’t have all of them and in enough quantity.

I actually got seeds to start in paper towel that when all the way to the water and they crawled through expanded clay media when I was doing my Kratky stuff. I want to try like charmin or something that mushes more next go round. I don’t think I covered them when I started them, and their pot ran out of water a couple of times. It is cheaper then rockwool which is why I mention it. Once the roots get to the nutrient solution all it does it stabilize the plant.


To tell the truth, I don’t use rockwool anymore either. I cut enough out of the net cup to be able to feed small roots through from plants I start in cells. I have only done tomatoes and cukes with Kratky and it worked well for them. What do you use for a nutrient solution.? I’m using Masterblend as show in this video. As I said, this guy is how I got started in alt growing.

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I started them in the netcup, and the paper towel actually wicks up the moisture from a tray underneath. as I put them in a pan on the heating pad for germination.

I saw that video but I think I used someone elses. I have to find my notes, but I used Schultz’s version of miracle grow because it contains boron, and added epsom salt and calcium nitrate.

I had several issues the light wasnt right. I was scaling down a 100l recipe to like a gallon. The scale I was using didn’t measure in 1/10ths of grams. I was using hard well water. I didn’t use the -exact- solution. I did some substituting, and my math may have been off. The calcium was precipitating out of solution. I adjusted the pH using vinegar on 3 of them and let the other 3 go… The one I adjusted the most did the best. And I wasn’t great about adding water, and I think because I was using a small containers ie 30oz coffee containers with a hole drilled out of the tops for the net cups, I think i needed to add water. And then because they grew so slow I think because of the light, they got root rot.

I will try again. I should be able to set them outside shortly which gets around space constraints because of other things. :slight_smile:

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Yep. It’s all trial and error and tweaking. Kind of the same as with gasifiers. I guess it applies to life in general. I used gallon paint cans for mine. Because I’m putting plants with roots in the net cups I fill the water to about an half inch below the bottom of the cup. That gives enough air for the roots. I put a screw with a rubber washer about 2 inches below the top of the can and if I pull it out and no solution comes out I fill the container until is does.


yup… booksmart vs reality. :slight_smile:

I just started them and plunked them in with about that much water. It wasn’t very scientific. :slight_smile:

im kind of wondering if you can get the mycchorizal fungus to grow with the kratky method… im not sure though I think they like aerobic conditions…

This answer is yes, but it won’t form spores. It will form spores with a hydroponic system where you have plenty of oxygen in the droplets. It will work with spray or drip but It works best with aeroponics that uses microdroplets created from an ultrasonic vaporizer… which of course all the 3 dollar vaporizers are saying to only use it with clean water. And some people use it in combination with kratky. Ill mark this one as rabbit hole to traverse at a later date. :slight_smile:


It has not occurred to me that amycchorizal fungus network could be developed in a liquid nutrient system Sean. That’s interesting. This is a long video. Bobby is a talker. If you see what he is doing with Kratky at the beginning and then aerated floating raft towards the end with additional O2 in the mix then it makes sense.

It obviously took me a minute too. They sell A. Myco for hydroponics which is what the guy in the previous video was adding, that is why it is water soluable… :slight_smile: Thanks to pot growers the products are on the market.

It will develop in the nutrient solution but it won’t create spores. I don’t think even with his airstones there is enough oxygen for spore formation.
HOWEVER in a drip, ebb and flow or a spray method there is enough surface area on the water droplets to absorb enough oxygen for spore formation, thus it is a surface area game. The aeroponics ultrasonic microdroplets have give a higher surface area for the oxygen absorption thus gives better results.

It didn’t click for me because the one people said, you can’t do it unless you make a trap box, which ends up to be more closely related to an ebb and flow hydroponics set up because they use sand and perlite, then drizzle solution on every couple of days.

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