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Thread: Self sufficient

  1. #1

    Default Self sufficient

    So I am new to the gardening thing. My family has always had a garden but it's never been a great interest of mine, but I am now started to get the gardening bug.

    We have a largish inner suburbs block now so we have the space for a decent veggie patch.

    I am interested in seeing how much we can grow ourselves and whether it's possible to be semi self sufficient vegetable wise.

    Does anyone do this? How much space do you use to feed your family? Does it save you money or does it end up cancelling itself out with water/gardening costs?

    Where should I start with vegetable staples?

    I have all my herbs already so I am looking more for advice and viability for doing a home garden?

    TIA

  2. #2

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    Default Re: Self sufficient

    DH is mainly the gardener, but I will try to answer what I can

    Quote Originally Posted by little_O View Post
    Does anyone do this? How much space do you use to feed your family? Does it save you money or does it end up cancelling itself out with water/gardening costs?
    TIA
    We have 8 x 10 square metre beds. It is a huge amount and when something really goes well, we get an overload of vegies.
    I really do not believe it saves us money. Costs seem to be:
    • Seeds seed, raising mix
    • Seedlings
    • Snail bait
    • Fertilisers - blood &bone, bags of sheep poo etc
    • Mulch - pea straw
    • Hoses, attachments etc - if you get it right and can spend on better quality, really a once off expense, but it can be hard to get right first off, especially if the budget wont stretch to the expensive stuff.


    Then there also various equipment, spades, forks etc, Depending on the size you want to go for, you may need to hire a tiller to do the ground work.
    We have not gone for raised beds, so no expense there.

    Then you have the preserving of your produce. Will you be bottling the extra tomatoes? Freezing? So you may need a bigger freezer or a bottling unit.


    Quote Originally Posted by little_O View Post
    Where should I start with vegetable staples?
    What you eat really. Also research your area for what grows. You will probably need to experiment with varieties for growth and of course taste.

    We have found it so unpredictable to know whether we can rely on our veggie patch or not. Some years have been great, a lot veg from it, bottle heaps of tomatoes, gave away lots. Yet this summer just gone, nothing, the weather was so rotten we struggled to get anything to grow, wasted all that money spend on seeds (we buy mostly from Diggers).

    The taste and freshness is awesome. Just have to remember to add extra time to dinner prep to go out and do a quick harvest of what is needed for the night.

  3. #3

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    Default Re: Self sufficient

    Forgot to add, check out ABC Gardening's patch from scratch DVD.

  4. #4

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    Default Re: Self sufficient

    I don't have a garden (only a pot or two on the balcony) (but go to a community garden sometimes) and just wanted to say that if you are in inner suburbs, you might well find 'food swap meets' - so you can swap stuff you grow for other stuff you don't. The community garden I go to sells seedlings at about 10th of the price of most places, and will give you plenty of advice also.

  5. #5

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    Default Re: Self sufficient

    We have fits of total self sufficiency, and then the weather does something hinky (or any number of other events that can mess with the garden) and we are back to buying from the markets again. But we give it a fair go each year.

    I limit DH on what he is lowed to spend each week on seeds/seedlings. $10 a fortnight (averaged out) should be more than enough for us now that things are well established. We have two big patches (and a smaller one he took over this last summer which I reclaimed for "pretties" over autumn). From memory our gardens come out to about 6m x 6m. Maybe a bit more or less. They are shaped oddly as they are the corners of our yard so are kind of hard to measure. We have them basically divided into six or 8 "sections" between them, and we rotate the veggies each season. We have slightly raised patches, created with no dig methods. Everything was done with recycled materials s much as we could (we bought soil and mulch but all edging for the beds, and the "no dig" parts, were recycled).

    Expenses for us:
    Seeds/seedlings (get it know your local prices and keep n eye out. You can often get seeds on special) - we now try and collect the seeds from a lot of things one season and dry the for the following season.
    Fertiliser (this mainly comes into the potted fruit trees, and our roses - the veggies get worm tea)
    Worm farm and decent compost set up - pays for itself though after a very short time
    Snail bait. Not something we used much at our last place but need it here. We have some sort of plague going on!
    Companion plants - we try to plant things like marigolds or cheap herbs alongside our "real" crops. There are plants you put together to encourage bugs to not feast on your veggies cos they are more interested in the companion. It seems to be working and we've so far only had to buy ine big tray if a couple of things. They are supposed to die off after a season but they are still going strong three years on. No complaints here!
    Flowers! We encourage bees into the garden with flowers - roses, bulbs etc. not exactly a necessity, but it definitely helps with things that need help to pollinate!

    The biggest "expense" for us has been time. Time to water (we are renting so can't really put in a permanent system), time to weed (we should mulch more but dh doesn't want to spend the money on mulch for the veggies for some reason), time teaching dd why we are soing this that or the other (not that I have a problem with this aspect - I love that she "owns" a section of garden and maintains it herself - I wish we got to eat some of the food though - it never comes inside!). Time to pollinate if we've had a stretch of rain and few bees around (hand pollinating pumpkins mainly). I always feel time poor when spring/summer come around!

  6. #6

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    Default Re: Self sufficient

    Seed saving can be great, but it will have an influence on what you can plant depending on what crosses with what. I think we don't bother with pumpkins, as the ones we prefer to eat cross pollinate and means icky pumpkins next season.

    We just let a lot of done plants go to seed, they are great at attracting the bees for plants that need them, along with that some of them look awesome in seed. Some lettuces are just fascinating.

  7. #7

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    Default Re: Self sufficient

    We have limited pumpkin growth at this house - not as much room to let them roam! Have also found they're not so successful here. Butternut pumpkin isn't so easy to grow here. Qld blue go great (but we can't always get seedlings).

    We save capsicum seeds drying. Peas and beans too. Tomato self seed like crazy so hubby just transplants them to another spot to avoid blossom end rot.

    Astrid, I totally agree with you about how fascinating some veggies seem when they go to seed. Even boring old ice berg lettuce looks pretty interesting

  8. #8

    Default Re: Self sufficient

    This is great information! Thanks so much.

    How many hours would the garden require. Is it daily?

    Also there are some planter boxes (I assume no dig?) already here, put they are perma pine sleepers. Do we need to get rid of them or could we line them somehow? Does it soak through the soil?

  9. #9

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    Default Re: Self sufficient

    If you have a watering system in place it doesn't take a lot of time. Planting, weeding Etc might take a day or two here and there but once it's established it really doesn't take much. For is, we spend a weekend at the start of planting to weed, dig it all over and prepare the soil. We leave it a week or two and then spend a weekend planting seedlings and seeds. As things grow dh may spend half a day here or there staking plants (had a to judge the time cos he plays footy in between)

    Over summer, if we don't have rain, He spends about half hour out there each night, watering. But that's because he chooses to water by hand.



    Feeding the fruit trees and mulching is maybe half hour each season


    Forgot to mention we also have strawberries in an old bath, and in pots. Our "edible" garden pretty much surrounds the border of our yard in one way or another, so half hour isn't really a bad amount of time to spend out there watering.

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