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  • FIRST POST
    • countrykate
    • By countrykate 13th Oct 19, 3:47 PM
    • 4Posts
    • 7Thanks
    countrykate
    Large Garden - Wanting to use to be self sufficient :) any books/video recommendations please?
    • #1
    • 13th Oct 19, 3:47 PM
    Large Garden - Wanting to use to be self sufficient :) any books/video recommendations please? 13th Oct 19 at 3:47 PM
    Hello

    I'm not really sure where to start sorry so thought it would be great to start here as I know this forum is full of knowledgable peeps

    I'm not too sure of the exact size of my garden but its really quite big. Would it be a good start to measure the space we have?

    I'm hoping to create a kind of mini farm to start trying to become more self sufficient (hopefully almost fully) - we're a family of 5 and so being able to have our own fresh eggs, fruit and veg each day would be amazing in terms of money saving, health and hopefully bevoming a little more eco!

    Can anyone recommend any good books, forums, websites and you tube videos that would help a beginner please

    What I'm hoping for is to keep chickens and ducks. Grow all kinds of root vegetables, salad vegetables, herbs and flowers for making tinctures and home made cleaning products/bathroom products, fruits and maybe more!

    Any help would be much appreciated.

    Thank you! x
    Last edited by countrykate; 29-10-2019 at 2:01 PM.
Page 1
    • Davesnave
    • By Davesnave 13th Oct 19, 10:27 PM
    • 29,802 Posts
    • 102,876 Thanks
    Davesnave
    • #2
    • 13th Oct 19, 10:27 PM
    • #2
    • 13th Oct 19, 10:27 PM
    The standard work for self-sufficiency has always been John Seymour's large tome, but as you will see, there are plenty of other more modern versions:
    https://www.amazon.co.uk/New-Complete-Book-Self-Sufficiency-realists/dp/0751364428

    If you are living in a semi-urban environment, in a garden rather than with fields, then a goat won't be a space-effective way of using what you've got. It would also be cruel to keep just one, so having 2+ would be even less efficient. Rule out the goat!

    Chickens are easier and you're entitled to keep them, so no one nearby can prevent you, but don't get a cockerel unless you don't mind upset neighbours. What's 'reasonable' in the country isn't necessarily so in town.

    Ducks too can be incredibly noisy, so learn about the breeds and which will be quieter. They're messy and, like many breeds of chicken, they need keeping away from crops. Like the chickens you'd have to balance what return you'd see against the space they need.

    Now for the difficult bit: you may not save as much money as you hope and you might not enjoy some of the jobs. For example, will you be OK killing poultry if they stop laying or fall very ill? Many people find that unacceptable, but every bird gets old and unproductive. Then, continuing to feed them isn't 'eco.' Also, if you have to traipse off to the vet with every sick bird, you'll be into a loss before you know it. At best, expect to break even with hens.

    As for the growing stuff, it's most cost effective to give priority to expensive produce that your family really enjoys, so that's not necessarily root veg. A well-managed fruit garden will possibly be worthwhile, and so might fast-growing salad crops or high-cost/hard to source veg.

    A polytunnel is a must for plants like peppers and tomatoes, but don't overdo it, as a great many plants prefer the outdoor life in summer. In the last few hot summers I've struggled with whitefly in my tunnel.

    You don't say what spare time you have available, but with 5 children it won't be as much as some enjoy and they will surely take up some garden space too. I wouldn't say it's wrong to have an overall plan in place for your plot, but don't try to set it all up in one go. Start small and build up gradually, bearing in mind that some things take perhaps 3 years to be productive, while others only take a few months.

    Best of luck. From previous threads, I know few people on this forum think you will save a lot of money, and you definitely won't make more than you'd get stacking shelves for Mr T, but there are plenty of other reasons for growing your own.
    Things are more like they are right now than they've ever been.




    • Niv
    • By Niv 14th Oct 19, 4:10 PM
    • 1,830 Posts
    • 1,628 Thanks
    Niv
    • #3
    • 14th Oct 19, 4:10 PM
    • #3
    • 14th Oct 19, 4:10 PM
    Apparently you need 2 acres of land for a family of four:


    https://visual.ly/community/infographic/lifestyle/how-big-backyard-do-you-need-live-land


    Obviously you can use the picture in the link to help you target which things you can be self sufficient on (my guess is not corn or electricity!).
    YNWA

    Target: Mortgage free by 58.
    • Davesnave
    • By Davesnave 14th Oct 19, 6:37 PM
    • 29,802 Posts
    • 102,876 Thanks
    Davesnave
    • #4
    • 14th Oct 19, 6:37 PM
    • #4
    • 14th Oct 19, 6:37 PM
    Obviously you can use the picture in the link to help you target which things you can be self sufficient on (my guess is not corn or electricity!).
    Originally posted by Niv
    Now battery storage is a reality, becoming self-sufficient in electricity is much closer. There's just one problem, and that's the minimum 12k investment for the smallest system!
    Things are more like they are right now than they've ever been.




    • in my wellies
    • By in my wellies 14th Oct 19, 8:55 PM
    • 889 Posts
    • 810 Thanks
    in my wellies
    • #5
    • 14th Oct 19, 8:55 PM
    • #5
    • 14th Oct 19, 8:55 PM
    Don't be fooled into buying lots of fancy gadgets and gardening products or you'll never save money, you'll have to store them all, most end up as plastic junk behind the shed.

    I bought my first gardening book when I was ten. When planning the
    vegetable plot something I always remember was plant 70% what you know you like and will grow easily and will use, plant 20% nice to have things/short season and 10% experiment with something new/fun
    So for me that's:-
    70% beans (broad, french, runner), potatoes (always good to clear ground), courgette and marrows, beetroot, carrots, onion family, sprouts, kale and sprouting broccoli.
    20% squash, sweetcorn, salad, peas
    10% - anything really, I belong to The Heritage Seeds library so something I sponsor or find in the catalogue
    Same % for fruit garden
    70% raspberries (mostly autumn), blackberries, blackcurrants, (all freeze well), apples, plums, rhubarb, pears, damsons
    20% gooseberries, red and white-currants,
    10% jostaberry, mini strawberries, sweet potato (all three hopeless for me)
    Same for the greenhouse:-
    70% tomatoes
    20% peppers, cucumbers
    10% aubergines (hit and miss - last year brilliant, this year rubbish)

    The children will need grass to play on so build three big compost heaps from wooden pallets using the grass clippings, kitchen waste and hen poo. (one to fill, one 'cooking', one to use)

    Don't let it take over your life, just do what you reasonably have time to do. If it gets on top off you for a year plant extra potatoes or courgettes just to keep the ground the ground clear.
    • silverwhistle
    • By silverwhistle 14th Oct 19, 11:45 PM
    • 2,734 Posts
    • 4,110 Thanks
    silverwhistle
    • #6
    • 14th Oct 19, 11:45 PM
    • #6
    • 14th Oct 19, 11:45 PM
    Have a look at Charles Dowding's website and publications.



    I've just got a new allotment and like wellies and Dave above will be growing stuff I like and that is expensive in the shops or benefits from being really fresh. Everything comes under the latter category, but for what it's worth I hope to have asparagus, raspberries and sweetcorn as well as salad stuff; courgettes and pumpkins to cover the ground whilst I get the whole place, not just the new raised beds, under control.
    Last edited by silverwhistle; 14-10-2019 at 11:46 PM. Reason: s
    • GreenQueen
    • By GreenQueen 15th Oct 19, 11:23 AM
    • 471 Posts
    • 2,260 Thanks
    GreenQueen
    • #7
    • 15th Oct 19, 11:23 AM
    • #7
    • 15th Oct 19, 11:23 AM
    How old are the children? If they are still small, they'll love "helping", collecting eggs, picking beans, etc even if you have to redo the jobs yourself, and there's nothing cuter than a toddler with a basket collecting produce.

    If they are older, they should be able to help properly. Either way, if you can afford the space, it's good for them to have their own patch and freedom to grow their own choice.

    There are some interesting blogs if you search, try to find someone whose style suits you and has a similar family and resources.

    If you try it and need more growing space, see if there are allotments near you (obviously dependent on available time). They are usually very reasonably priced and allotmenteers are a great community with lots of advice, local knowledge of soil/weather/good varieties and sometimes even free seeds/seedlings.

    Good luck!
    A Clutter Free Life - 2019 in 2019 - 558/2019
    • andrewf75
    • By andrewf75 15th Oct 19, 11:24 AM
    • 9,744 Posts
    • 17,165 Thanks
    andrewf75
    • #8
    • 15th Oct 19, 11:24 AM
    • #8
    • 15th Oct 19, 11:24 AM
    Sounds great, but to be anything close to self-sufficient will be extremely difficult and require a lot of dedication. With 2 young kids I struggle to manage a vegetable patch and a greenhouse and I still haven't got round to the chickens....

    Good luck!
    • countrykate
    • By countrykate 29th Oct 19, 2:28 PM
    • 4 Posts
    • 7 Thanks
    countrykate
    • #9
    • 29th Oct 19, 2:28 PM
    • #9
    • 29th Oct 19, 2:28 PM
    Wow thank you so much everyone. Utterly amazing and helpful advice.

    It's myself and four children ranging from the age of 4 to 15. My youngest and my 11 year old have grown some amazing plants and really enjoy getting stuck in and getting muddy. My teenagers are not interested in anything but the finished meal haha! Typical.

    This has really brought my expectations down and I can see now it might be alot more difficult than first envisioned. It would still be great to have potatoes and fruit and veg we use alot of on hand and the eggs too.

    We currently have a big established red currant bush already here which would be good for making preserves. I've planted an apple tree and next doors pear tree provides us with a good few pears in autumn (it hangs over and he allows us to have them which is good). We also have strawberries come back every year with huge sizes on them. Unfortunately they've been planted amongst these fast growing weeds that trail along the floor like they're alive (not sure what weed it is but it looks like marijuana leaves but the vines spread along the floor like they're going to wrap around your legs. When they get cleared they come back almost immediately).

    I'm wondering if it would be worth transferring the strawberries somehow without damaging them?
    • Davesnave
    • By Davesnave 29th Oct 19, 6:14 PM
    • 29,802 Posts
    • 102,876 Thanks
    Davesnave
    Strawberries only do about 3 or 4 seasons and then the plants need replacing, usually by taking runners (small plants on long stalks produced after fruiting) off as soon as they've rooted into the soil or in pots you've provided.

    So you could probably start a new bed if there are runners.

    Having been a teenager in the late 60s, I have a vague idea what a marijuana leaf looks like, and the nearest thing to that I can think of that creeps and could be mistaken for a weed, is hops. I have a wild one that sprang up in the shadow of a large oak tree, so it never gets very rampant, but the one in my old front garden just about took it over and had to be removed.

    The only other creeping, fast growing weed I can think of is convululus, but the leaf doesn't match your description.
    Things are more like they are right now than they've ever been.




    • pompeii
    • By pompeii 4th Nov 19, 12:03 PM
    • 252 Posts
    • 101 Thanks
    pompeii
    Although this is not aimed at people aiming at self sufficiency I subscribe to a site called GrowVeg.com they do a lot of UTube videos and are generally very informative. I chose to treat myself to a 2 year subscription to make use of the garden planner and it has definitely helped me to structure my fruit and veg growing albeit on a small scale in raised beds pots and a green house. Worth a look at the videos if only for growing advice.
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