How To Grow Half Your Food In Your Backyard In Less Than An Hour Per Day

Watch this webinar and see how you can grow half of your own food in your backyard in less than an hour per day. You’ll be surprised at how easy and fun it is.

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Marjory Wildcraft

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Marjory Wildcraft is an Expedition Leader and Bioneer Blogger with The [Grow] Network, which is an online community that recognizes the wisdom of "homegrown food on every table." Marjory has been featured as an expert on sustainable living by National Geographic, she is a speaker at Mother Earth News fairs, and is a returning guest on Coast to Coast AM. She is an author of several books, but is best known for her "Grow Your Own Groceries" video series, which is used by more than 300,000 homesteaders, survivalists, universities, and missionary organizations around the world.
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42 Comments on How To Grow Half Your Food In Your Backyard In Less Than An Hour Per Day

  1. Dave Duggan

    First, thank you for all you do!!! Are you saying it is OK to eat 3-4 eggs a day?
    I have chickens but I have some concern about too much cholesterol. Also would love more advice on
    making veggies last through winter, what you can freeze and other methods. Thanks again
    Dave Duggan

    • Hi Dave,

      I got so inspired by your question I wrote a whole post about it. Check it out here

      And regarding winter time – you can grow a lot during the winter! As I mention in the webinar on how to grow half your own food avobe, kale, spinach, lettuce, can grwo all winter long in unheated greenhouses in most of N. America.

      Also, check out this article on plants that can withstand a freeze.

      • JJM

        The link is about cholesterol not freeze tolerant plants. With a mild winter in Houston, I found my fall plantings of Broccoli, Cauliflower, Carrot, Radish, Lettuce, Swiss Chard and Peas did great (unprotected) with plenty of fresh veggies for the past 2 months. Removed the strands of Christmas lights and forgot to cover the Tomatoes for the last light freeze which damaged them pretty bad.

    • EDDIE

      DAVE,Just to let you know when I was a child, was raised on a farm in Wallkill NY which is in upstate NY. We grew all our vegs and canned most of them..Had two cows and a steer..Milked the two cows before I went to school and then when I came home. Also raised pigs,geese,ducks and chickens. Had up to four eggs a day,had a roast chicken every Sunday,and also all winter was always chicken soup.We also used eggs for our home made bread,dounts,and anything else you needed eggs for. Never had a health problem from the time I was their. So if you raise chickens for eggs eat them and use them for whatever you can. They are farm fresh and since I left the farm miss my fresh eggs, fresh milk, cheese, and homemade butter…Left farming in 1966…Just started to can my own stuff again the last few years..Trying to get back to being healthy like when I was a kid..Didn’t really know how lucky I was to have those people who raised me with all of their skills.And GOOD healthy foods..God Bless

  2. Doug Lass

    I’ve been trying to watch the video of how to grow half your food, but a thing about home medicine keeps coming over the top of the gowing food part and I can’t get the medicine part off to watch the garden video! Help!!!

  3. Leslie Parsons

    This presentation is great. Backyard homesteading can seem overwhelming, but breaking it down into parts and then simplifying the parts, make it seem soooooo much more doable. And, it IS fun. As my back yard turned into a mini-farm, that grew every season, friends and relatives became delighted with it! (Which I never expected.) I never once got a negative comment from anyone – even the neighbors who awoke to the rooster crowing! These are not a bunch of hippies I’m talking about here. My friends, relatives and neighbors are just regular folks. When I give them a gift of home grown produce or fresh, clean, fertile eggs, they really treasure it, too.

    • charley

      Harold…… Rabbits are so easy, and so good to eat. Very lean. An easy way to do it is to build your own cages out of wire, you can get a plan somewhere, then put two poles in the ground and a couple of stringers across the top, and hang your cages. Only problem I had was a cat that got up a pole and chewed off some babies toes. I showed him the highway. And you can hang burlap around the sides for extreme cold. I was in Tn which is fairly mild but gets a couple of good cold snaps. Then I would slaughter some every 8 weeks and my wife would wash, cut up, and freeze them.

      It’s fun cooking them up too. We ate rabbit in white wine, BBQ rabbit, Rabbit Southern Style, and on and on. Some very good eating….. Good luck…..


  4. Vicki

    I loved your video. Thank you.
    Also, I’m a self-employed transcriptionist. If you can afford to hire someone, I’d love to work with you. (I don’t charge a lot.) If interested, please contact me at (Maybe I can earn the extra money to buy your food growing system). :)

    • Hi Vicki,

      Oh thanks. I will keep that in mind. And we sincerely do try to offer a lot for those who just don’t have the budget. I really appreciate your support through reading and commenting.

  5. Beth Oquist

    Hi Marjory! Well done and inspiring – thank you so much! I just wanted to make a suggestion about crops to try out in your early spring/winter section. I worked on a CSA and this was in their “freely pick” section. Just like the spinach and kale, you can pick a few leaves and the plant will continue to produce more through the season. So in the spring time, this was a mainstay of my lunch. They are both Asian veggies, one called “Komatsuna” and the other is “Mizuna.” They are mild, with a cabbage/ broccoli taste to them. One is a little spicier than the other – don’t recall which. BTW, I live in the Puget Sound (maritime Washington State) and these plants do well here because of our mild, wet weather.

    I am so looking forward to learning more about the other systems – especially the one that is more vegetarian based. What do you think about sunchokes for a calorie food and do you have any suggestions for good recipes? I’ve tried them (mostly raw) and they taste “o.k.” I don’t think they are as good as potatoes, (mostly the fart factor) but their production and hardiness is great! Also, have you or do you know of anyone who is considering a small milking animal (goat or sheep) to be added to one of the systems and the up sides and down sides to that? I love the potential that all this has to become a “closed system” as well as having items (extra eggs etc) to barter.

    Your enthusiasm and joy for this topic come out and are very inspiring. Thanks again for doing this and this information you’ve provided.

    • Hi Beth,

      Oh thank so much for your post.

      I have treid working with sunchokes – they are so inspiring becuase they are so dang hardy! They will grow (almost) anywhere. but they have, hmm, I probably should look this up, oxalic acid. And eating too many of them is really difficult on the digestive system. I get really gassy from them. I am looking for other ways to prepare them, but haven’t found much yet. I am also toying with using them for a feed for other animals – rabbits! LOL.

      Yes, a system with a milking animal might be a good candidate.

      • Leslie Parsons

        Mizuna is the milder of the two Asian greens.

        Sunchokes have an unusual carbohydrate called inulin. It is thanks to inulin that they are suitable for the diabetic diet and have been show in studies to help when eaten daily, both raw and cooked. They can be red-skinned or white like potatoes. The intestinal distress, according to professional chefs, can be avoided by peeling. Gardeners claim that they should be harvested only after the tops are frost killed. No double blind studies have been done on the benefit of peeling or harvesting after frost, but the benefit to those with blood sugar issues is very real and documented. The one thing that is for sure: Contain them, or you will chase those tubers all over the garden and beyond!

        I understand that a Nigerian Dwarf breed of goat is an easy entre into the world of dairy. They are the smallest and their milk has the highest butterfat! They can produce between 750 and 340 pounds of milk per year.

        • Beth Oquist

          Leslie, thanks for the info on sunchokes and the “head’s up” on a good goat milking breed. Very helpful. Now I know what direction to concentrate research in.

      • Beth Oquist

        So here’s what I found out about sunchokes and oxalic acid: “Oca (Oxalis tuberosa) can be bitter or sweet. The bitter varieties can contain
        up to 500 ppm oxalic acid (that’s like spinach leaves). However, the sweet
        varieties contain only 79 ppm acid, which is 1/20 the amount found in a standard
        white potato. So, get a sweet variety; it’ll be perfectly safe to eat.”

        David Ehrlick also shared some other interesting information. Because of our difficulty in digesting them and getting the calories out of them, they wouldn’t probably be the best food if adding calories to the diet is the goal.

        “Both yacón (Polymnia sonchifolia) and topinambur (Jerusalem artichoke, Sunchoke,
        Helianthus tuberosus) have tubers composed mainly of inulin rather than starch.
        This is the part that is usually eaten, though young stems can also be eaten.
        Raw, these tubers are somewhat sweet and crunchy, but the skin has a stronger
        more resinous taste, so you might want to peel it. Because humans lack an
        enzyme to hydrolyze inulin, these vegetables pass through the body mostly
        unmetabolized, so they make ideal diet foods. I like them raw with lime juice
        and a sprinkle of salt as a snack, or sliced and sautéed as a dinner vegetable.
        They can also be baked or boiled, but they lose their crispness. I would not
        bake them in a pie.”

  6. Cindi

    Won’t work in our town. Live in a little town but rabbits, chickens and even bees are BANNED! No chickens/bee hives at all, rabbit ONLY as a pet.

    • Cheryl

      In our town, no chickens allowed within city limits unless it is a pet. To get around this much-fought law, people name their “pet” rabbits.

      • Hi Cheryl,

        My daughter names all our rabbits. And she is fine with the process when they are to be prepared for eating.

        Lots of cities used to have ‘chicken’ ordinances that have been reversed in recent years due to public pressure. The “transition Town” movement has been very helpful to getting city ordinances changed. I should write up a post about the transition movement for you…

      • Christa M

        We name our chickens, too… the laying hens ARE pets, sort of. We specifically got one of each of a few breeds so we could tell them apart.

        We even named the meat chickens we raised: Nugget, Roast, Stir-Fry, and Barbecue.

    • Jason Macek

      Lynn..this webinar provides an overview of how this process works which is basically the same as the Grow Your Own Groceries DVD.

  7. Christa

    I hate to be a stick in the mud, but your rabbit numbers do not add up. You said 5lbs of meat for a fryer, and used something in the vacinity of 800 calories per pound. Ain’t NO three month old fryer that is 5lbs of pure meat. You alluded to this, yourself, in fact, when you commented that a single rabbit makes a good meal for a family of 4–surely, you are not suggesting that 1.25 lbs of boneless meat is an appropriate serving, no matter the leanness. I think you meant 5 lbs of bone-in meat (which is still awfully high based on my experience…most meat rabbits are 9-10lbs live weight at fullgrown 6-8 months, and would dress out in the range of 5 lbs of bone-in). The average fryer for us is about 5 pounds live weight and dresses out to around 3 but still bone-in. And the calories in bone-in meat are going to be significantly lower than a pound of ground or boneless meat. (For the record, I raise Silver Foxes, a heritage meat breed, which are another great option, though sometimes harder to find, as with any non-commercial breed.)

    • Hi Christa,

      Oh you are not a stick in the mud at all! I really appreciate your bringing this up. Yes, I can see I’ve been a bit over optimistic and confusing carcass wight with boneless meat – and I will revise the numbers appropriately – hah, add another chicken for eggs and ask the garden to produce a bit more? Also, I realize that I do not actually butcher at 3 months. I always procrastinate so I should put in there more like 4 or 5 months… so they are much heavier than folks who get right on it. Plus, I am over feeding the babies as much as possible as I want the fat. (Note I do not overfeed the breeding stock as them being fat is not a good idea – they don’t breed when too fat). My numbers of getting about 80 rabbits a year out of the system is still very accurate though.

      OK, thanks again for your corrections and I will re-do the presentation with more accurate numbers. It is still quite possible and easy to do though.

      • Christa M

        Totally! Raising some cockerels for meat is an option, too. My daughter is raising pullets to sell as laying hens, so my bin is occupied, but I plan to get some chicks to raise for meat soon. It’s not totally ‘internal’ that way, because I’m not hatching out the chicks, but I don’t have a rooster (in suburbia, and prefer not to really annoy my neighbors), but it’s still pretty good.

        I’ve also been learning about winter gardening (have you ever read the books by Caleb Warnock? You two would get along, I suspect), and that can really make a difference, too, in how many calories you can produce if you aren’t limited to a three or four month gardening season.

  8. Michel

    Hello Marjory:

    I would like your opinion on goitrogenic veggies, like the cruciferous veggies (Kale, etc.) all the good things in life. It seems like it may be a major concern. Maybe your wide audience could provide a balanced answer.

    Michel Hone P.Eng., PhD

    • Hi Michael,

      Wow, I just looked up the word “goitrogenic” – hadn’t a clue about it before you commented. From Wikipedia (gosh, don’t you just love Wikipedia? I do)

      “Goitrogens are substances that suppress the function of the thyroid gland by interfering with iodine uptake, which can, as a result, cause an enlargement of the thyroid, i.e., a goiter.”

      Wikipedia goes on to list a whole variety of foods that are goitrogens… It does say that “cooking partially inactivates the goitrogens, except in the cases of soy and millet”.

      Michael, do you have any direct experience or knowledge about this? I would love to get a report of your adventures. I am sure the community would like it also.

  9. Cheryl

    I don’t think I have enough backyard to grow half the food for my entire family. Even if I were to increase these numbers, it is now taking much more of my time than less than an hour. :( I am still having a garden and will seriously consider rabbits and adding chickens — I’m paying a fortune for others’ eggs. Thanks for the video! It was very informative.

  10. Since we eat a vegan diet with the exception that we have bees, I’d be very interested in your research on that. It seems to me that we would be talking about a lot of canning and freezing (this won’t work if power outage) maybe even an underground storage area. Can you give me more feedback on this. thanks

  11. BB

    Ms Marjory: I think the cholesterol deal is overblown based on the numbers and how our bodies work. First an egg has around 200 mg of cholesterol. If your blood concentration is about 200 mg/dl that means that every liter of blood has about 2000 mg. The average adult has about 5 liters of blood which means you are carrying around 10,000 mg of cholesterol at any one time. An egg represents just 2% of your total assuming that all the cholesterol makes it from the egg to your bloodstream. Then there is the fact that your liver can manufacture cholesterol anytime it wants to and can regulate the level in your bloodstream. Between your brain and liver, you somehow know the ‘right’ amount of cholesterol that needs to be there. Also eggs contain lecithin, which I have been told ’emulsifies’ ? the cholesterol in the very egg you eat. Obviously, I am not a doc or a nutrition scientist, but I have been a skeptic about egg danger for a long time.

  12. Xin

    i there, Marjory.

    I’ve been really interested in growing my own groceries but have scientifically been concerned about pesticides or other industrial pollutants in the soil closer to the city (from run-off, or acid rain….). So, I’ve so far only been buying organic foods from farmers’ markets or Whole Foods, hoping that organic farmers have cleaner soil and rain. The same with grass-fed meat and wild game: I buy the from semi-local sources.

    Have you considered things like “Azomite” or other things which help enrich the soils, since soils nowadays are shown to lack lots of crucial things like magnesium?

    Not much work is a great factor. :-)

    But, what about the actual safety and nutritional content of my food? Polluted water (chlorine, rocket fuel, etc.), polluted soil, or nutrient-stripped soil?

    Also – while I’m very well-studied in all of these health issues (doctors, poor food system, poor dietary recommendations, circadian rhythms being messed up by living with indoor lighting), and honestly think that they make a huge detrimental difference, one must be cautious of deciding that growing one’s own food and medicine is _certain_ to cure everything; things like modern environments created by changing the microbes through “antiseptics”… chemicals and diesel in the air… and other things which are different from how things were in antiquity.

    Which is entirely not to say that growing one’s own food, and understanding medicinal foods isn’t a very, very big deal. That sounds wonderful! As does living very close to nature and exposure to sunlight and natural lighting.

    But, one could still get cancer or other modern ills from things like ambient pollution, formaldehyde in houses and furniture, various volatile organic compounds, etc.

    (I’ve become acutely aware of potential toxins in products through being chemically sensitive – one can find lots of info on how many chemicals go into producing modern furniture, etc. Waterproof coating, sealants in houses, grout… Natural gas… Formaldehyde in clothing, even.)

    It is easy in a toxic modern world to become attached to things which make a really big difference as panaceas. We’d all probably really like our world to be “fixable” and “not toxic” – and it probably is to some degree, probably a large degree.

    But, that’s not quite equivalent to a panacea. :-)

    It’s also very easy in a modern world that’s quite toxic to latch onto something as “the solution,” rather than approaching things like food as “this is the best I/they people I’ve spoken to know how to do, but human knowledge is still growing.

    I’ve also been rather forced into realizing that things like oxalic acid, histamine, goitrogens, reactions to dairy, reactions animals fed at all with any feed with grains, reactions to foods with sulfur and thiols, reactions to most vegetables and fruits… and many, many, many, many other things… are actually very common in the general population.


    Of course, if one can figure out what one *can* eat, one can probably ust grow those specific things through homesteading (rather than the typical tomatoes [nightshade], potatoes, strawberries, etc.)

    That’s my semi-unclear hopefully not-coming-across-as-a-stick-in-the-mud post. 😉

  13. spirit

    hi- i only have dialup and can’t get videos to load and play. do you have another way for me to get this info? thank you!

    • Hi Spirit,

      Hmm, any chance you can get to a library and watch it?

      Let me think about getting it available in another format. I made with with a lot of text for the requests of people who were deaf. this is a new one! LOL

  14. John Huston

    Wow, this is really inspiring info. After watching this I am quite sure I can do this. Thanks so much Marjory for presenting.