Practice for a couple of years
Understand the pros and cons
Learn to grow under cover
How much space do you need?
Embrace seasonal eating and living
Committing to self-sufficiency
Making it all worthwhile
Be prepared for the ups and downs
I took us a few years to get to self sufficiency in vegetables, we learned some hard lessons on the way and some delightful ones too, but I'd rather help you avoid the pitfalls. So in this chapter I'm going to explore what it means to be self-sufficient in veg and why you might try it, despite the challenges, or perhaps because of them!
Why not be self-sufficient in fruit as well? It's certainly possible, I've had a few people tell me they've achieved it. We've chosen not to go that way for a few reasons, the most important though is that we didn't adopt a self-sufficiency lifestyle to deprive ourselves, we think we eat far better than when we ate from the supermarket.
Fruit, unlike veg, has a short season and we love our fruit, so it would definitely be a deprivation to be without it. Second we like fresh food and those - very few people - who are self-sufficient in fruit, eat it mainly frozen or preserved in sugar. We think that's less healthy and tasty than fresh, so it's not for us.
So although we do store fresh apples for a few months, dry apples and pears for snacks and make jams, purées and cordials, these are a very small part of our fruit diet. We do however eat a small amount of shop bought fruit, compared with the amount of home grown fruit we eat in season.
So with that pre-amble out of the way let's focus on veg!
We think there are a few key steps to take to become self-sufficient, these are the hard won lessons that will hopefully work for you too.