Delima
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Self Sufficient Organic Gardening

Hello all,

Pardon my ignorance on gardening, I am a complete newbie.

I am planning to buy a house. I have a few options on my fingertips now.

However, I want to grow my own vegetables (organic) - I want to be self sufficient in ALL my vegetable supply. I am ignorant to gardening, I do not have any clue if this is attainable, and how.

The house I am planning to buy is this

[img]https://www.botanica-ct.com.my/images/imgproalani00.jpg[/img]

The green bits are the limited gardening space available. I would like to dedicate the whole right hand long strip to veg plantation. The strip width is approximate 2.5m / 8 ft, the strip length is approximate 21m / 70 ft.

Is it remotely achievable to be completely self-sufficient in my greeneries ? Even just for 1 person myself ?

If I use square-foot-gardening method and plant my veg intensively - would this help ?

Can you please educate me.

Your feedback is important as to which house I purchase. If the gardening space is not simply too small I may have to look for alternative.

Please help me.

Many thanks

Kalli007
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I am by no means an expert - with only one year of gardening experience I am just shy of a newbie myself! However I can tell you that if it is just you that you are gardening for, you will not need nearly as much space as you might think. I had a small plot (12*12) with only 4 rows and had much more produce that I needed. And it being my first time gardening I was not very space efficient.
Texas Gulf Coast

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Hi Delima

The plan helps a little, but a north/south reference is necessary to figure out the lighting (I am assuming adjacent properties have much the same layout?), and Malaysia is a much different climate from Texas or Connecticut; what are you planning on growing? Plants from your latitude will grow much better for you than the ones from ours; while there are some crossovers we wouldn't expect you to get great results from say potatoes, but sweet potatoes or yams would work well and take some of the shadier situations a tight property can throw at you...tomatoes are pretty tropical and might work if we can find light, but figure out where in the yard gets six or more hours of sun a day, what gets four to six, what gets less than four, and we'll see what you can get away with...

HG
Scott Reil

Delima
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Kalli007 wrote:I am by no means an expert - with only one year of gardening experience I am just shy of a newbie myself! However I can tell you that if it is just you that you are gardening for, you will not need nearly as much space as you might think. I had a small plot (12*12) with only 4 rows and had much more produce that I needed. And it being my first time gardening I was not very space efficient.
Hi Kialli,

Seriously ? 12ft x 12ft and you are completely self-sufficient in your daily vegetables ? Excellent news.

I plan to be vegetarian once I move to my new home, so perhaps my demands on veg would be higher than normal people.

I am highly encouraged now if 144 ftsq is sufficient for one person. Then 560 ftsq should be definitely more than enough - and perhaps enough for a small family of 3 /4 people ?

Please comment as much as possible - my future house selection is seriously dependent on this issue.

Many thanks

Delima
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The Helpful Gardener wrote:Hi Delima

The plan helps a little, but a north/south reference is necessary to figure out the lighting (I am assuming adjacent properties have much the same layout?), and Malaysia is a much different climate from Texas or Connecticut; what are you planning on growing? Plants from your latitude will grow much better for you than the ones from ours; while there are some crossovers we wouldn't expect you to get great results from say potatoes, but sweet potatoes or yams would work well and take some of the shadier situations a tight property can throw at you...tomatoes are pretty tropical and might work if we can find light, but figure out where in the yard gets six or more hours of sun a day, what gets four to six, what gets less than four, and we'll see what you can get away with...

HG
Hello HG,

The property is facing north west. Adjacent properties have identical or mirror layout. The house would look similar to this:

[img]https://www.fullhouse.com.my/images/pro/2009/10/32475.jpg[/img]

Two semi-detached house (forming an isolate unit, two semi detached house, two semi detached house .... The available garden strip is similar to the one shown on picture right end, but slightly narrower.

We can assume the whole yard will get 6-8 hours sunlight a day (it is sunny Malaysia), and plenty of rain.

I do not know what vegetables I will be growing. I think I can perhaps solve this issue later.

The more important question is - is this tiny little space of 8ft x 70ft enough / realistic to support myself, or perhaps even a small family of 3 ?

Obviously I am happy to supplement my diet from the market. But at the very least I would hope that I am "largely" self sufficient.

Please can you comment as much as possible

Many thanks !

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rainbowgardener
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You might find this interesting:

"The data I keep coming across on the web and in gardening books suggests that, to provide an adequate, year-round vegetable diet (excluding grains) for a family of four using standardized organic gardening methods, you would need a garden plot about 4000-5000 square feet (which might be doable on a standard suburban lot). Using different methods, like John Jeavons' dynamic biointensive techniques, you could decrease that square footage considerably. Unfortunately, at this point, there is no reliable and consistent data regarding yields from permaculture/edible forest gardening techniques, though I would venture to guess that the yields could be quite high if designed correctly."

https://urbanevolution.org/thinktank/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=11

That sounds like conservatively 1000 sq feet to feed one person. But as noted if you use intensive square foot gardening you could probably do better than that. And being somewhere with a continuously warm climate will give you an edge too. So it sounds like you are on the edge of feasibility.

However, as a gardening newbie, I would suggest you don't plan on being totally self-sufficient the first year you try. There's also a question of how much time do you have to devote to this project? The kind of intensive gardening you are talking about to feed yourself out of your garden plot is also VERY labor intensive and takes a lot of knowledge and planning. And you are likely to have some failures. Crops that don't work out for your climate, pest problems, etc. So start a little small and work up to it. Giving yourself a three year plan towards self sufficiency seems reasonable....

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applestar
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When you talk about "self-sufficient" are you also talking about fertilizer for the garden to grow on? It might be a good idea to also consider extra area to grow green mulch or source of dry carbon browns (like leaves or straw) for your compost, as well as a bit of manure like chickens or goats. There are variables like if you grow grain, the stalks of the grain plants could be made into straw, etc. We in the colder climate get a bounty of fall leaves as the trees go dormant for the winter -- I wonder what the equivalent would be in Malaysia? Have you looked through the threads in the Permaculture Forum?

Delima
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rainbowgardener wrote:You might find this interesting:
That sounds like conservatively 1000 sq feet to feed one person. But as noted if you use intensive square foot gardening you could probably do better than that. And being somewhere with a continuously warm climate will give you an edge too. So it sounds like you are on the edge of feasibility.
On the page you listed, in Justin Boland's post at "February 9th, 2009, 7:47 pm", he cited calculation that shows 83 m2/person (900 sq ft). However this calculation assumes greenhouse efficiency and fish as food supplements.

I wonder if intensive square foot gardening would beat greenhouse ? And if so significantly ?

My planned new house would only have 560 sq ft available. So I guess I won't be self sufficient.

What a shame. I will rethink about my house choice :-(

Delima
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applestar wrote:When you talk about "self-sufficient" are you also talking about fertilizer for the garden to grow on? It might be a good idea to also consider extra area to grow green mulch or source of dry carbon browns (like leaves or straw) for your compost, as well as a bit of manure like chickens or goats. There are variables like if you grow grain, the stalks of the grain plants could be made into straw, etc. We in the colder climate get a bounty of fall leaves as the trees go dormant for the winter -- I wonder what the equivalent would be in Malaysia? Have you looked through the threads in the Permaculture Forum?
I certainly would do my own composting. I am thinking of installing composting toilet actually - but not enough fund and they are not available locally.

In Malaysia the trees are green all season. You have continuous supply of fallen leaves.

I haven't look through the threads in the permaculture forum. I appreciate that I have so much to learn - and I will certainly learn in the future. However by the time I have learnt all I need to know to make my own judgement perhaps I have to postpone my house purchasing for a good few years !

I know I sound rude but now I really need some "instant", "informed"/"educated guess" advise about whether the garden space available in my planned new house is enough to meet my veg intake.

Could you please comment and advise. Many thanks.

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applestar
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You're getting good advice here. Try to listen to what is being said and not just what you want to hear.

We are all treating your idea seriously. You have many things yet to learn, and you need to realize that the size of of the property and the mathematically available ground is not the only issue involved for successfully pulling this off.

Homesteader
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Self sufficient.

We live on 5 acres and organicly garden about 8500 square feet. This is mostly in raised beds. There are two of us as well as helping our kids with some of what we harvest and we try to grow and process as much of what we need as we can. This is not nearly as easy as it sounds.
We are for the most part vegetarian, meaning we do very occasionaly eat meat. The work that it takes is of course a work of love, never the less it is a ton of work.
Do not get me wrong as I am not trying to dissuade anyone from becoming self sufficient. As far as I`m concerned it`s the only way to live.
Along with all the work that the garden itself takes there is also a lot of canning and dehydrating that is necessary. We can around 600 to 700 jars of food per year as well as a lot dehydrating. We also store potatoes, onions, beets, squash, carrots and parsnips. We also save most of our own seed from season to season. I am retired 60 years old and in good shape. I put in about 60 hours a week keeping our place going. Of course this is not all gardening as there is wood to be logged, cut, split and stacked for the winter as well as all the other things needing to be done on a daily basis.
My point in all of this is that if you are serious about sustainable living be prepared to work your **** off to get there, because that is what it takes. It also takes land. At this point I am negotiating for another acre on a farm near here to be able to add wheat, millet and oilseed sunflower so that we can grind our own grains and press our own cooking and salad oil.
We love our life here and would recomend it to anyone wanting to give it a go but it does take total determination and dedication to your purpose.
Gardening is a spiritual endeavor.

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Delima, just a thought about the next place; if that last one you looked at was facing northwest, and had all those other plants and buildings and walls around it, you were not going to get anywhere near six hours a day on most of the open area. Think sunshine; it is the fuel plants energize with. We can feed nutrients all day long but without sunshine it is like loading a truck without gas in the tank...

A sustainable self-sufficient garden is a full time job. You are not the breadwinner anymore; you literally make the bread . Yet many thought this the highest task we strive at; R.W. Emerson said,
"The first farmer was the first man. All historic nobility rests on the possession and use of land."
Thomas Jefferson said,
"I think our governments will remain virtuous for many centuries; as long as they are chiefly agricultural."
His contemporary and confidant, Bejamin Franklin said,
"There seem to be but three ways for a nation to acquire wealth. The first is by war, as the Romans did, in plundering their conquered neighbors. This is robbery. The second by commerce, which is generally cheating. The third by agriculture, the only honest way, wherein man receives a real increase of the seed thrown into the ground, in a kind of continual miracle, wrought by the hand of God in his favor, as a reward for his innocent life and his virtuous industry."

To bring plants from the earth to feed yourself and others is as noble a pursuit as one can hope to attempt, let alone achieve. It is not easy, but it is rewarding and it is worth the effort. Plus, we'll help... :wink:

HG
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Delima
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Thanks Marlingardener

Your advice is very well understood and much appreciated. Having read all the advices I don't think my garden space is anywhere near enough. And I am simply not equipped to be a full time gardener. I will heed your advice - proceed with the property, run the small garden and learn my rope slowly.

Delima
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Thanks Applestar

I think even if I am a professional full time gardener the garden space is simply not big enough ! So I will consider other factors first before the garden size when choosing the property.

Delima
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Amazing experience Homesteader

Your personal experiences is exactly what I am looking for. I very much appreciate you sharing them.

5 acres, 60 hours a week - simply too much, too much for me at present. As I have previously suspected I have simply massively underestimated the task ahead, I am so glad I ask the question here now I know the answer.

Many thanks again Homesteader. I admire your current life.

Delima
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Excellent point about sunshine HG.

If I am honest I am not ethically against sourcing food from other supplies. However I don't like current commercial chemical farming method and organic food is not easily available locally.

I guess - I will just see what can I do with the whatever garden I will have eventually, play around and learn.

I will certainly come back to this forum again when I have acquired the property and the garden (a few months time) - and learn from all the experts.

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rainbowgardener
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Kalli007 wrote:I am by no means an expert - with only one year of gardening experience I am just shy of a newbie myself! However I can tell you that if it is just you that you are gardening for, you will not need nearly as much space as you might think. I had a small plot (12*12) with only 4 rows and had much more produce that I needed. And it being my first time gardening I was not very space efficient.
That's kind of amazing. What all did you grow in your 4 rows? Do you mean that you had more of some things than you could use, but there were other vegetables you still bought from the market or you literally ate nothing veggie but what came out of your garden, all season? What about now, getting through the winter, are you still eating from your garden? (i.e. did you can, freeze, dry, etc any of your garden produce so that it still feeds you?)

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Hi,

I am a newbe also. I have this past season under my belt and I agree with another post about starting small and learning as you go. We began with three 12X6' raised beds and a 4X4' plot of ground. I planted seven tomato plants, eight okra, ten cucumber, two squash, three zuccini,twelve pepper plants, and four eggplants. I didn't know enough about pests so we lost all of the squash and zucks to vine borers. we lost four of our twelve peppers to blight. we didn't get any bell peppers although all three plants survived. I didn't know enough about soil amendments or watering so the plants that did survive didn't grow very fast.
I think that yoy can accomplish your goal but you need to research more and test your findings with your climate, soil and pests. Goodluck!
"Organic gardeners always know the best DIRT!"

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rainbowgardener
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Thanks for the post, kimbledawn, and being willing to report results even though they weren't all positive! I struggle with the squash vine borers too, and also lost all my zucchini plants to them this year. Next year I will try wapping the stems in foil (to "foil" the borers! :) ) and maybe also keeping floating row cover over them til mid summer.

My tomato plants got some kind of blight this year, but since I knew about the milk treatment (try the search), it slowed them down for awhile, but they recovered and did well later in the season. Next year I will just jump on it a little sooner! You can even do the milk treatment preventatively instead of waiting til they are suffering.

But this is how we all learn. Sounds like you learned a lot and are better prepared for next year. Gardeners always say "Next year will be a better year" (and it's frequently true! :) since we do keep learning and getting better at it).

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Rainbowgardener; In your post you mention a milk treatment for late blight. This is new to me. May I ask how this is done? We lost almost all our tomato plants this last season to late blight and I would be thankful for any help in this area.
Gardening is a spiritual endeavor.

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I tried the search funtion but didn`t come up with anything using "milk treatment".
Gardening is a spiritual endeavor.

cynthia_h
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Sorry you had trouble; the magic search-term combination seems to be

milk fungus

I just got about 70 hits here at THG with this combination of terms. The theory is to use the bacteria in milk against the fungus.

Dilution is necessary; timing is useful. The discussions will give specifics. (Sorry, I'm not feeling well tonight and am almost to bed--before 9:00 p.m.)

Cynthia

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Cynthia H; Thank you very much for the info on milk fungus treatment. We grow a lot of tomato, peppers and potatoes so this information is greatly appreciated.
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HS, this is [url=https://www.fpl.fs.fed.us/documnts/pdf2004/fpl_2004_yang001.pdf]scientifically supported[/url] home grown fungicide you always have in the fridge. Three to one with water can actually be curative on low level fungii, but best use at ten to one preventitively to establish colonies on the leaves (called anatagonistic biological counterculture). I just used milk on the powdery mildew on ny indoor rosemary this very morning! It's my favorite fungicide!

HG
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quick quest-ion

I sprayed neem oil on my pineapple sage to cure from spider mites and thought of you. Your solution is what I was actually experimenting with. Milk lol you are awesome.

Can you add rosemary leaves as mulch to increase your soils ability to kill bacterias? For a while I have been adding the leaves of herbs that have antibecterial agents as mulch but this could be detrimental to 'good bacteria', true or false?

8) If false must explain why not.


:lol:
You can solve all your problems in a garden/laboratory.

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Not sure about the antibacterial side of rosemary, but certain plants (garlic and onions, mint,) CAN be set backs for compost (not long term though). Rosemary I haven't had issue with, but I eat most of mine, so am not 100% sure on this one... it does seem to have effects on arthropods (mites and such) and THAT could be somewhat limiting (knocking a link out of the poop loop), but not as crucial as antibacterials (that knock out the mast food source for the soil food web, bacteria).

Dontcha think neem's kind of strong scented for a food crop, Sage? Doesn't it change the flavor?

HG
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yeah its heavy on the stinky side. I wash the leaves for a long time after treating and I think thats why I started expirimenting with milk. It actually started when I couldn't finish all my oat meal and my drain was clogged up. My oat meal has lots of cinimon milk honey so its just seems right there that s everything you need minus the water. Added all that to my mint plants soil. Would honey work in a water solution by itself? I would imagine it would kill a lot of bacteria because its a well known anti biotic and I also know diluting honey in water increase these effects.
You can solve all your problems in a garden/laboratory.

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Actually Sage, diluting honey in water turns it from an antibacterial (by way of dessication) into a bacterial food par excellence. Once it's hydrated it doesn't dehydrate very well, and now it is just a bunch of long chain sugars in a wet habitat, a bacterial playground. But as we are trying to culture a bacteria, and providing that culture with milk it would likely be food for the Lactobacillus cultures we are looking for...

And once you have antifungal bacteria like that in place, the chances of fungal cultures getting started are slimmed way down. WAY down.

HG
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:oops: Are you saying you should perhaps combine the milk and honey?


I was unable to view the PDF link but I might have a basic understandin of what you are saying but if you could please clearify for me. Would you use the honey sugars as food for the bacteria from the milk?
You can solve all your problems in a garden/laboratory.

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rainbowgardener
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We ARE living in the land of milk and honey! :)

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Honey in a dilute form is indeed a bacterial food (with trace elements to boot) and the milk assures the selection of Lactobacillus ssp. as the bacteria of choice, so yes, that would work. I wouldn't go wild with the honey (it's expensive, and the milk is already bringing sugars to the table, as lactose, so unecessary) but that should be a good mix...

HG
Scott Reil

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