Useful tips for starting on a self sufficientish path

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Flo
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Useful tips for starting on a self sufficientish path

Post: # 293412Post Flo »

So - where do you start with being self sufficient. Probably not by reading books on the subject as these all seem to be for the seriously well off who can build a house which heats itself, cleans itself, has its own rainwater collecting system, deals with its own sanitation - you know the sort of thing. :roll:

So how do you get started on the self sufficient path? Depends on your skills I suspect. There are often allotments to be had if you don't have a big enough garden.

There are sometimes foraging courses local to you - free is good.

So - where did you start on the self sufficientish path?

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Re: Useful tips for starting on a self sufficientish path

Post: # 293413Post Green Aura »

I have no idea where I started, Flo. I think some elememts were always there from childhood - following my Dad round his veg patch and greenhouse, helping my stepmother (who fortuitously was a chef) in the kitchen. Although most of that, apart from cooking (I've never liked the taste or used ready meals), got forgotten when I lived in London, all of it returned when I had my own child and we go our first house - a 2 up, 2 down terraced house with a communal back yard. We grew herbs in an old sink by the back door and had a couple of fruit trees in pots. Unfortunately the trees got pinched. :roll:

I think the sheer joy of cooking and/or eating something you've grown yourself is one of the most satisfying things imaginable. I think it's something you can do whether you live in a mansion or a highrise flat - there's always something you can grow, even on the smallest windowsill - even north facing ones! You can, and I have, start with just a jam jar a pair of old tights and some sprouting seeds. Before you know it you're sprouting 5-6 different seeds or pulses and wanting to know how they grow/taste etc as thet get bigger. You can even get carrot seeds that grow the tastiest little round carrots that can be grown in a pot on a windowsill.

I've never been able to keep a houseplant alive for more than a few months, at most, but I've got calamondins growing on my windowsill that have been in fruit more or less continuously for several years. We freeze the fruits as we pick them and make a delicious marmalade hen we've got sufficient. That's the other big thing for me - preserving produce. Even if you can't grow much, you can often find cheap fruit and veg at the market, or supermarket that you can preserve for leaner times - a cheap cabbage and a tablespoon of salt will give you sauerkraut to dig into later on when veg are more expensive. Cheap fruit can be preserved through jam making etc. Home grown, bottled tomatoes are the best thing ever!

Climate change has noticeably, over the last 4-5 years, changed what we can grow up here, so we've had to curtail a lot of our vegetable gardening in favour of perennials that will provide us with food. That had always been my plan - my food forest - but the weather has rather spurred this on. We still have a small veg patch but certainly not big enough to feed us. Hopefully we'll have a dome too before long. In the meantime we have a small "greenhouse" and the SW facing windowsills.

But we're all about the Ish here - doing what we can.
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Re: Useful tips for starting on a self sufficientish path

Post: # 293414Post Odsox »

I was born into it.
Growing up just after the war with rationing, all country folk grew their own fruit and veg, and caught rabbits for meat. Plus we lived on a small farm, so just about all food was home produced especially eggs, milk, cream and butter (but not cheese!)
Also I was taught the art of repairing anything broken, starting off whipping broken handles, and I still do it.

So umpteen years later I still grow my own fruit and veg, and eggs, although unfortunately not milk.

On the other hand we walked or cycled everywhere or if it was too far, caught a bus. Now it's jump in the car and spew CO2 and NO in the process. I'm pretty sure the last time I was on a bus would have been in the early 70's, and on a bike ... probably about 1961.
So most definitely swings and roundabouts, and develop a "must try harder" attitude.
Tony

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Re: Useful tips for starting on a self sufficientish path

Post: # 293415Post Flo »

Odsox wrote:
Fri Jan 17, 2020 4:32 pm
On the other hand we walked or cycled everywhere or if it was too far, caught a bus. Now it's jump in the car and spew CO2 and NO in the process. I'm pretty sure the last time I was on a bus would have been in the early 70's, and on a bike ... probably about 1961.
So most definitely swings and roundabouts, and develop a "must try harder" attitude.
Now I'm the other way with regards to transport. Yep as a kid, we walked or cycled mostly unless disabled father wanted a set of legs to walk for him at the other end of the driving. Nowadays there's a bus passes the front door sometimes, there's the village buses 9 to 5 Mondays to Saturdays to either the market town or the big city And a wider variation over the other side of the river bridge up hill to nearest town (of sorts) past the big indoor shopping centre into the big City. With a bit of care you can get to a lot of the local villages if you must. Oh and there's train station within 10-12 minutes walk. So why I would want a car if I could drive? Very self sufficient in the transport stakes. Mind, did pick this social housing bungalow with transport in mind.

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Re: Useful tips for starting on a self sufficientish path

Post: # 293416Post Odsox »

Flo wrote:
Fri Jan 17, 2020 4:49 pm
Nowadays there's a bus passes the front door
We have a community minibus pass here twice a week which goes to the local town and returns 2 hours later, so OK to go shopping there, but if you want to go anywhere else you can't get home, unless you wait 2 days or the next week, depending on which day you set out (Tuesday or Thursday).
Shame really as we both have bus passes and the car is an arm and a leg job, so we would be quids in with public transport. Our nearest train station is about 55 miles away :lol:
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Re: Useful tips for starting on a self sufficientish path

Post: # 293417Post Flo »

Bad planning Odsox - it takes thought and planning to be even self sufficientish. :lol:

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Re: Useful tips for starting on a self sufficientish path

Post: # 293418Post ina »

I also grew up in it... We had all our own veg and most of the fruit, lots of it preserved for winter. We never had a car, either. My parents had gone through two world wars and never got out of the habit of mending and keeping anything that might still come in useful.
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Re: Useful tips for starting on a self sufficientish path

Post: # 293419Post Flo »

I suspect that a lot of people who want to start being self sufficient have not had the experience to know where to start. We do have a shop locally that has knitting classes. There are also local groups that have odd courses (sort of one off) for making chutney and jam and that sort of thing. Most of the horticultural learning locally is on courses run by the county to enable people to get jobs. Not exactly useful. But exactly where to start if granny or parents don't help could be difficult.

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Re: Useful tips for starting on a self sufficientish path

Post: # 293420Post Green Aura »

I was stunned to read an article, a few years back, that said many people had never used their kitchens. I could sort of understand of folks who are too poverty stricken to use their appliances (of which there are all too many these days) but these were pretty well to do, and had no idea how to cook other than reheat in a microwave and load the dishwasher.

I'm guessing we must be getting towards a third generation who have never been taught, or found any inclination to learn. I remember a friend of my daughter's proudly informing her that she'd cooked Christmas dinner for the first time. Everything came out of a packet, with microwave instructions.
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Re: Useful tips for starting on a self sufficientish path

Post: # 293421Post Odsox »

Green Aura wrote:
Mon Jan 20, 2020 9:43 am
I was stunned to read an article, a few years back, that said many people had never used their kitchens.
A few years ago when my missus was working at a seafood company, they commissioned a survey in America to see what demand there would be for frozen ready meals.
One of the "facts" that was discovered was than many new build houses didn't include a kitchen as standard. They were classed as optional and had to be ordered before building started.
So the frozen ready meals had to be capable of being cooked in a microwave.
Tony

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Re: Useful tips for starting on a self sufficientish path

Post: # 293422Post Flo »

So if kitchens are optional where does one start with people being self sufficientish in preparing a meal? If someone has nowhere to cook, there is no need to learn to grow or produce any food for oneself. This could of course explain why we are so self sufficient in waste that can't be recycled. Quite a circle that has been squared methinks.

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Re: Useful tips for starting on a self sufficientish path

Post: # 293424Post Weedo »

Same in OZ although it seems to be only in apartments so far - often the base design only allows for a kitchenette; just enough to make a coffee, sandwich etc. ("houses" still have kitchens) Perhaps this is actually more sustainable and eco-friendly? fewer places generating waste (more opportunity for recycling?), less overall power usage, less transport cost, less packaging, fewer appliances manufactured?

A recent trip to Sydney for a few days, stayed in Chinatown, certainly made us question the value of cooking at home if we lived there. High quality, cheap food is everywhere
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Re: Useful tips for starting on a self sufficientish path

Post: # 293426Post Flo »

Yes but who has trained the people to cook that food?

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Re: Useful tips for starting on a self sufficientish path

Post: # 293427Post Viper254 »

I do actually know a person who doesn't use her oven - barely ever.

I didn't learn to cook (at all) until my 20s, which was a huge oversight that's now corrected for, but I can see how somebody could hobble by without really knowing.

For us, we moved into this house (the allotment is behind it) and that was the big push to start devloping our ways a bit; putting the whole thing to lawn just seemed crazy. I suppose we both came from poorer backgrounds and that leaves you predisposed to seeing the opportunity where perhaps some shouldn't.

I get the feeling I'm a few years younger than the majority of forum members so perhaps I see things a bit differently; who knows. The "make-do-and-mend" ethos was truly a dead philosophy for most of my life and has only really come around again with the rise of environmentalism.

Also, I want to work 4 days a week instead of 5, so I'm trying to grow as much food as possible.
Trying to get to grips with a Staffordshire allotment (UK)
Seasoned skip-diver and rescuer of broken things, but not a great horticulturalist

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Re: Useful tips for starting on a self sufficientish path

Post: # 293428Post ina »

Viper254 wrote:
Tue Jan 21, 2020 8:15 am
I do actually know a person who doesn't use her oven - barely ever.
I remember reading about people who built/converted self catering places in the UK. Those that had a proper kitchen (with oven) soon realised that British guests never used the ovens; those that had only provided kitchenettes had foreign guests complaining! I think it is still predominantly a British/American problem.
Ina
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