How self-sufficient are you?

A place to chat about anything you like, including non-gardening related subjects. Just keep it clean, please!

Moderators: Chantal, Tigger, KG Steve, peter, Chief Spud

Carrie
KG Regular
Posts: 40
Joined: Thu Apr 13, 2006 8:04 pm
Location: Leicester

How self-sufficient are you?

Postby Carrie » Thu May 11, 2006 12:14 pm

In terms of fruit and veg that is? I took the allotment on last year on the basis that anything we grew and managed to eat was a good thing, however small the yield, this year I'm wondering to what extent it's possible to grow the majority of fruit and veg yourself? If you manage it, how much of your time does it take? How much land? I assume you have to be extremely organised (I'm not!), and what do you simply not manage to produce yourself?
0 x
User avatar
peter
KG Regular
Posts: 5498
Joined: Fri Nov 25, 2005 1:54 pm
Location: Near Stansted airport
x 377
Contact:

Postby peter » Thu May 11, 2006 12:50 pm

I have some hazy recollection that an acre is supposed to be enough to grow all a family's vegetable needs for a year.

Various acts of parliament limited an allotment plot to no larger than a quarter of an acre and I suspect that with organisation one could grow sufficient on that.

It would probably be a basic selection of crops though.
No fruit, it takes space.
No fancy crops.

Spuds, cabbages types, beans, root veg, lettuce, toamtoes, in other words all the traditional crops in large quantities.

I await Johnboy, Viiive Veg and Allan's contributions to this thread with uinterest as I believe their answers will be much much better than mine, but hope mine give something to start the contributions flowing.
0 x
Do not put off thanking people when they have helped you, as they may not be there to thank later.

I support http://www.hearingdogs.org.uk/
User avatar
oldherbaceous
KG Regular
Posts: 12105
Joined: Tue Jan 24, 2006 1:52 pm
Location: Beautiful Bedfordshire
x 698

Postby oldherbaceous » Thu May 11, 2006 1:32 pm

After answering Carrie's other question and this one, i would put you alongside Jonhboy, Vivie Veg and Allan for very helpful answers Dr Peter. :lol:

Kind regards Old herbaceous.

Thers no fool like an old fool.
0 x
sandersj89
KG Moderator
Posts: 463
Joined: Wed Nov 30, 2005 12:29 pm
Location: West Sussex
Contact:

Postby sandersj89 » Thu May 11, 2006 1:58 pm

I would say I we are about 80% self sufficient in veg, not doing so well with fruit but we never buy currants, raspberries, rhubarb, gooseberries but do buy apples and the like. We are a family of 4 and eat very well.

This is from 2 half plots no where near as big as yours. I try to grow a range of stuff so there is always something to eat fresh 12 months a year. No matter how well you plan though you will have gluts and this is where processing and storage are vital.

We have 4 freezers now, one is for meat we buy direct from a couple of farmers and the rest is for fruit and veg. We also dehydrate things like tomatoes and we pickle and bottle other stuff.

The time this takes is more than the time or effort it would take to shop for things and some will argue there is little point in growing things like main crop spuds or onions as they are so cheap to buy in bulk. But for me I want to grow them as they will taste better and I know how they have been grown. I am not organic but I am certainly reduced chemicals.

The time effort also varies considerably during the year. In early spring most of the activity is in the greenhouse with sowing and pricking out, say 6 hours a week. This will also be mixed in with digging and spreading manure, another 2 hours.

As we move into spring proper it is more sowing and planting out and watering starts in the greenhouse. At the moment I visit the plot first think in the morning to open the greenhouse and in the evening to water and close it up. I will also puch the hoe around for 10 minutes and maybe cut the edges, at the weekend I will do the major tasks such as erect the bean supports or earth up the spuds. Maybe 3 hours per day.

Summer is mainly weeding/hoeing/watering and harvest. Picking peas and beans, podding them and freezing can take some time but it would average out at about an hour a day plus a bit more at the weekend.

Autumn and things start to slow a little but there is still plenty to harvest and store but not so much going on in the greenhouse for instance. Though you will now also be needing to tidy things up for the winter and there are a few things to plant now such as garlic and bare rooted fruit bushes/trees.

Winter and things slow right down and I may only go to the plots at the weekend to lift leeks or parsnips for the week ahead.

All of this might sound a lot of time but I enjoy my time out getting my hands dirty and find it a relieve from my job and great exercise, far cheaper than a gym too!

HTH

Jerry
0 x
Farmers son looking to get back to the land full time one day.....

Holiday in Devon? Come stay with us: http://www.crablakefarm.co.uk/
Beccy
KG Regular
Posts: 205
Joined: Sun Dec 18, 2005 8:20 pm
Location: Sheffield

Postby Beccy » Thu May 11, 2006 6:34 pm

I think Peter is right about the acre, I'm sure that is what I have read too, but I think that may be based on fairly old-fashioned cropping techniques. And I think if you want to grow your own cereals too it's four acres. I have John Seymours book somewhere and while I wouldn't agree with him on everything I think this is what he says and he's probably in the right ballpark.
0 x
Carrie
KG Regular
Posts: 40
Joined: Thu Apr 13, 2006 8:04 pm
Location: Leicester

Postby Carrie » Thu May 11, 2006 9:24 pm

Jerry - I'm in awe (and you have just reminded me to go outside now and bring in the seedlings thatI' hardening off)
Peter and Beccy - I've read something similar too, in one of the Caroline Foley books I think. Tho' I would imagine that when those calculations were made people had a far simpler, less-varied diet, so they would have space to grow the staples like potatoes, beans, onions etc and not considered trying to grow everything.
I don't think self-sufficiency is an option for me, but I am interested to hear how much of their F&V requirements other people do manage to grow.
0 x
Allan
KG Regular
Posts: 1354
Joined: Fri Nov 25, 2005 5:21 am
Location: Hereford

Personal view.

Postby Allan » Thu May 11, 2006 11:20 pm

When we had an allotment or three, the man who managed the site noted that we came all the year and always took something home, a good scheme to manage rather than a glut for the late summer and then nothing for the rest of the year.I see no merit in being highly self-sufficient but it is a good thing if you try just about everything as an experience. After a few years aim for the things that are particularly valuable, unobtainable in the same quality as homegrown, or you can grow particularly well. I suggest you own herb garden, easy and you only want small quantities, salads of most kinds in a succession, tomatoes and runner beans to obtain a quality that the shops never can have,winter salading, a range of soft fruit as it is difficult to get in shops and so easy and profitable to grow. Don't bother with potatoes unless you are an addict of speciality varieties, the shop ones are quite cheap and you wouldn't have much room for anything else if you were totally self-sufficient. Sweetcorn may be advisable to stock up the freezer and as a summer treat when fresh. I am doing well with a succession of radishes in fishboxes, rocket, polycress as they crop exceedingly fast. I wouldn't be without watercress and montia. I expect there are lots that I have missed out.
You won't get rich on it all but you will enjoy living long and healthily.
Allan
0 x
User avatar
Tigger
KG Regular
Posts: 3212
Joined: Sun Nov 27, 2005 6:00 pm
Location: Shropshire

Postby Tigger » Fri May 12, 2006 10:49 pm

We're similar to Jerry in that we grow about 80% of the veg we eat. The fruit situation improves each year as our orchard establishes itself and we're self sufficient in soft fruit during the summer. I use our two tunnels to the maximum from March onwards, usually cutting down the last of the tomatoes late November. However, last year I kept some salad crops, herbs and veg going through the winter and I'm planning on doing more of that this year.

Any spare produce goes to work for colleagues or to friends. My Bridge partner has any disasters or overripe stuff for her pigs.

For several years I didn't grow potatoes, but got lured back this year, which has meant the need for another raised bed. OH also put in 8 more raised beds just for strawberries.

We too have four freezers, which is madness as there's only the 2 of us. We reduced them to one, but it was always full, so we built the number up again. OH has one for his baking and home made ice cream. Two are for meat and the other is usually full of home grown fruit. I freeze very little veg as we prefer to eat what's in season. We do make lots of preserves - jams, chutney, ketchups, pickles, passata, etc and I'm intending trying to dry some tomatoes and fruit this year.

As for time - as we garden at home, from the spring onwards I go out for an hour or so each morning before work and at least an hour most evenings, with three hours or more on three evenings a week. Then at the weekends, if I'm home, I'm in the garden. It all starts to slow down once the clock changes in the autumn and by October, it's weekends only.
0 x
User avatar
Johnboy
KG Regular
Posts: 5798
Joined: Tue Nov 22, 2005 1:15 pm
Location: NW Herefordshire
x 101

Postby Johnboy » Sat May 13, 2006 1:14 am

Hi Carrie,
I am following this thread with great interest. I feel that Self sufficiency is dependant very largely how many mouths you have to feed. It also depends on what your diet is.
I am self sufficient in meat but that is because I belong to a syndicate of farmers and have 5 freezers in all, three of which are for meat and the other two for anything else, but at times also get bunged up with meat.
I feel that you certainly need all the basic vegetables, anything that is capable of being stored.
You must also have the right vermin proof storage conditions as it is no good growing the produce if by January you run out of food due to poor stoage and everything perishes with the severe winter cold.
Strangely I consider it more difficult for Vegetarians to become self sufficient as their diet needs many things that are not feasable to store.
No doubt somebody who is vegetarian who is into self sufficiency may give an account of where maybe my thinking is wrong.
Having grown as much as you can store you have the room on the plot to provide you with fresh produce most of the year and really a tunnel is a prerequist of self sufficiency and that plays its part for late winter and early spring crops as well as the production of plants for the new season.
When I was at my most self sufficient I had 7 mouths to feed and it was very enjoyable but bloody hard work. Most rewarding to sit down and eat a meal where everything on the plate you have produced yourself.(smug sod did I hear somebody say!!)
There are many things that it is impracticle to try and produce I quote cereal as an example as it is not really possible to produce a Wheat hard enough to mill properly to make decent home made bread.
You also need a considerable income to even produce most of your own food in todays conditions.
I feel that it is sufficient to grow as much as you possibly can but to me complete self sufficiency is really a dream that many of us have had over the years but is not attainable.
0 x
JB.
User avatar
vivie veg
KG Regular
Posts: 274
Joined: Mon Dec 05, 2005 3:14 pm
Location: Carmarthenshire, Wales

Postby vivie veg » Sat May 13, 2006 7:30 am

:P I'm flattered that Peter has put me on a par with Allan and Johnboy....I'm afraid it is not deserved! My growing is limited to just a few year's in the back garden and starting last year with 11 acres of rough pasture.

However, I have read that the standard allotment (1/4 acre) was set up specifically to feed a family of 4 (not sure on the appetite at that time as my teenage stepson would eat us out of house and home if it wasn't for a lock on the larder!), I doubt if that would have allowed cereals for bread.

I would be interested to see any info about planning an alloment from war times etc.
0 x
I don't suffer from insanity .... I enjoy it!

Vivianne
User avatar
Johnboy
KG Regular
Posts: 5798
Joined: Tue Nov 22, 2005 1:15 pm
Location: NW Herefordshire
x 101

Postby Johnboy » Sat May 13, 2006 2:37 pm

Hi Vivian,
A standard allotment is 1/20th of an acre.
22yards by 11yards which relates to 4rods by 2Rods
But in plain English is 66ft x 33ft including 2 paths one side path and one head path.
Over the years things have changed but the dimensions quoted all fit nicely into an acre.
So your plot is 220 allotments. I think you might manage :lol:
0 x
JB.
User avatar
pigletwillie
KG Regular
Posts: 723
Joined: Thu Nov 24, 2005 6:38 pm
Location: Leicestershire

Postby pigletwillie » Sat May 13, 2006 4:59 pm

We have two standard plots and run 2 freezers. We grow only what we like, is difficult to buy really fresh or is expensive.

In the later category we are self sufficient in soft fruit (rhubarb, blackberries, blueberries, black currants, red currants, raspberries, gooseberries, strawberries, cranberries)as these are very costly to buy and contrary to popular belief dont take up huge rafts of space if planted with thought on the plot. We are also ok for apples, damsons and plums.

We grow rafts of onions, garlic and shallots and are 100% self sufficient with those as we are with potatoes, tomatoes and peppers during season. Last year we grew 80 sweetcorn and this has been ramped up to 160 plants, giving us total self sufficiency there. We grow all our own salad stuff including beetroot, scallions and pickling onions but fall a bit short on brassicas, parsnips, swede and carrots. A few extra raised beds are planed this winter which will give us again around 80% self suficiency with the exception of tropical fruit like bananas, pineapples and oranges.

We preserve plenty as pickles, chutneys, jams etc. This year as well I hope to bring a big bunch of flowers home to Mrs P twice a week at least.
0 x
Kindest regards Piglet

"You cannot plough a field by turning it over in your mind".
peat
KG Regular
Posts: 140
Joined: Mon Nov 21, 2005 7:16 pm
Location: Cardigan

Postby peat » Sat May 13, 2006 8:34 pm

Elliot Coleman in his book works on the basis that 1 acre will feed 40 people for a year. But that would be full time job.
Pete
0 x
skype me on pmrout
"To be a successful farmer, one must first know the NATURE of the SOIL" Xenophon , Oeconomicus 400 B.C.
Carrie
KG Regular
Posts: 40
Joined: Thu Apr 13, 2006 8:04 pm
Location: Leicester

Postby Carrie » Sun May 14, 2006 8:10 am

Thanks for the replies everyone - they make interestinmg reading. I've been feeling a bit overwhelmed by my plot this week, and am having a think about how I want/ am able to tackle it in the future. Your replies give food (or fruit and veg!) for thought. Thankyou.
0 x
Beccy
KG Regular
Posts: 205
Joined: Sun Dec 18, 2005 8:20 pm
Location: Sheffield

Postby Beccy » Sun May 14, 2006 6:12 pm

Carrie, don't try to do it all at once. :shock: :)

Spend time deciding which things you want to grow most, put them in order, then concentrate on doing what you need to do for the priorities. This is probably the most important thing you can do to get the most out of your plot, and it can be done 'off-plot' of course.

Accept that at some times of the year there will always be more than you can possibly do in the time you have available.

Be reassured that it does get easier over the years as you get more familiar with what needs doing,when and how to do each job most efficiently.

We concentrated on getting enough ground for a rotation group cleared and planted each year, anything more was considered to be a bonus. We did do more than that except for one year, but we didn't feel so pressured. And we felt we had got to grips with the basics of growing each group before we added another set of requirements to be fulfilled. It worked for us, but partly because our absolute priority was raspberries and we were spectaularly successful with them, so we have had what we wanted most, in quantity, from our second year on site.
0 x

Return to “General chatter”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 14 guests