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applestar
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Self-sufficiency, what to/can/can't you grow and store?

I wanted to explore the concept.discussion copied and pasted below that was mentioned in another thread some more. I think this subforum is a good fit. For most of us in winter season, this is a good time to armchair noodle, too.

Imafan in Hawaii is in a situation that is not like most of us, and the "scary" is very real and I'm guessing the "we" in the last sentence refers to everybody on the Hawaiian islands (including the tourists?) Is this something that most are aware or something that is discussed among the intellectual gardening circles?

Rainbow's comment is a valid one, but it made me think about things that are hard to grow and things that we have become accustomed to having available year-around (wether tasty or not) due to importing from around the globe (well -- the other half of the hemisphere).

As a gardener and.or environment conscious and.or for healthy eating, do you tend to avoid buying out of season produce shipped from the southern/northern hemisphere and.or other side of the ocean? (Even if it might be an idealistic, unrealistic luxury for Islands like Hawaii?)

If you chose to be as self-sufficient as possible, it would be essential to stick to growing and eating seasonal fresh produce and preserving extra for off-season consumption. How would you preserve and store them?

Some things are not even possible or feasible to grow in our own garden. As a thought exercise, what would you have to cut out of your familiar.accustomed food (I'm thinking staple main grains like wheat flour for bread and pasta, or rice, would top this list) and what would be a viable alternative?

What would you consider growing and eating that you might not have considered... if you HAD to? And I want to acknowledge that there are the other, expanded homesteading/self sufficiency activities like beekeeping, poultry for eggs and.or meat and even larger livestock that you might consider but maybe restricted due to current living situation.area. Would you consider them IF there was no zoning restrictions?

Subject: Fall Gardeners Unite!
imafan26 wrote:Space is a problem for most of the stores. Almost 90% of all goods have to be brought in by ship or air. That is 9 days at sea. Shipping here can cost more than the cost of the goods. Larger stores have their own containers and they buy in bulk. Smaller retailers and farmers have to buy from the larger retailers, ship on space available or act as a coop so they can share the cost of a container. There are also minimum buys so the retailer has to buy a minimum amount to make shipping it in profitable. That means that the retailers have to have a lot of storage space. Land and storage space is a premium, so when seasonal things like Christmas comes around, they have to make room to store it in the retail space and usually that is in place of the garden and outdoor furniture. Those orders get cut because the Christmas things take up the space in the container to ship it over and the storage areas once it gets here. In the mainland some companies shut down when midsummer rolls around because they have fewer orders all over the country so sometimes there isn't anyone to order from. Some of the garden catalogs and seed houses stop taking orders around May. I tried to order some chive seeds from Territorial a few weeks ago, but they said they would not send it until January when their new seed catalog comes out, and I needed the seeds a month ago. Some of the seeds in the current catalogs were back ordered and some are finally coming in now.

Its is scary, but if there is a major disaster that makes it hard to get planes or ships in and out of Hawaii, we have less than a month of food reserves, maybe only days for some things.
Subject: Fall Gardeners Unite!
rainbowgardener wrote:Another reason you all should be growing your own. At least you have a year around growing climate.
...for bonus point, also think about gardening and preserving supplies that you are used to just buying -- what would.could you do if they were not readily available? What about water and electricity...?
Learning never ends because we can share what we've learned. And in sharing our collective experiences, we gain deeper understanding of what we learned.

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Self-sufficiency, what to/can/can't you grow and store?

We are working towards what self-sufficiency we can, knowing we will never be completely self sufficient.

We have two peach trees, two apple trees, and I hope two baby fig trees make it. I have planted a perennial bed with strawberries, rhubarb, asparagus, and want to add a couple artichokes in spring.

In spring we will be buying/making a chicken coop and obtaining 3-4 hens for eggs. We are considering a large fish tank for growing food fish, but that probably won't be in 2017. I want to plant an American hazelnut tree and perhaps another nut tree. I want to plant a hardy banana tree.

When I finish building all the garden beds, we will have about 500 sq ft of veggie beds. I grow a lot of herbs, mostly in pots on our 400 sq ft of deck, but also mixed in with the veggies.

I can, dry (especially the herbs), and freeze whatever we don't eat. I like to make big batches of something like lasagna, soup, etc and freeze half for later. But I doubt we are ever likely to have enough put by to get us through the winter and hens don't lay much in winter, either. So we will never be as independent in winter as in growing season. And what I don't see us ever producing is milk and dairy products, wheat and grains, citrus. (Also salt and black pepper and other spices). I will be looking for locally grown sources of dairy and grains.

Our biggest project will be in fall 2017, installing solar panels on our house (has to wait until our Cincinnati house, currently leased, sells so we get the money out). Since our house is all-electric, that should cover most of our power needs. (Maybe with a Tesla PowerWall to store power for off hours.)

I will be getting rain barrels to help with watering the gardens, but we will always be dependent on municipal water.

So doing pretty well, but not survivalists/ doomsday preppers.
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PaulF
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Re: Self-sufficiency, what to/can/can't you grow and store?

I may have a big problem if things go wonky. I do not like most vegetables especially those I could grow if I wanted to. With our relatively short growing season there are many foods that can not be grown here. We do have fruit trees and freeze or can some of that but harvests are iffy at best. We do not raise livestock and don't really want to. I am a carnivore but not a hunter, so that is out. We freeze tomatoes, so if there is no electricity we are in trouble. Same with water, same with sewer.

I rely on the most efficient and cheapest food supply chain in the world. If things go badly in the world I would be one of the first casualties.
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rainbowgardener
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Re: Self-sufficiency, what to/can/can't you grow and store?

I've been a vegetarian for over forty years, so I don't have to worry about meat supply. I don't eat fish either, but am considering going back to that. If I were growing my own safely and organically, maybe I could do it, though it would take getting used to killing and gutting them...

I used to live where there was a composting toilet and wouldn't mind going back to that, but water remains probably my biggest vulnerability.
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imafan26
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Re: Self-sufficiency, what to/can/can't you grow and store?

Except for the rainy season, most of the time the weather is mild so we don't have any real heating costs. The Big Island is literally sitting on a volcano but very little is being done to tap the volcano for geothermal energy. We are very dependent on fossil fuels for electricity and each island is an island, when the power goes out, they used to have to restart the generator by running a line to the sugar mill. Now the mills are gone too, and the backup now are the military nuclear submarines to restart the generator. The cost of electricity is very high and has only come down recently because of the cheaper fuel prices. There is a minimum charge just to keep the account open even if you don't use any power. Many people are turning to solar panels, and the early birds got a big advantage because of the tax rebates and the utility buyback, their systems cost them only about $2000. However, as more people add solar to reduce their electric bills, it is increasing the bills of everyone else since the utilility has been increasing the charges for maintaining and upgrading the system. Solar users still use the generated power at night as most of the solar panels have no storage. Newer technologies are changing that, but now the utility has put a cap on the number of households in a neighborhood that will be allowed to go solar. Some areas have already reached the limit.

Being surrounded by ocean does have its perks. There is fish available but the fisheries have had moratoriums placed upon them to avoid having those areas be over fished. There is an expanding fish and aquaponic industry that can supply fish, but they still depend on imported fish food.

I can grow a lot of vegetables to supplement my diet year round, the most productive are sweet potato, chayote, papaya, moringa, eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, ung choi, NZ spinach, and bitter melon. Mainly because the plants yield a lot of fruit with little care over and extended time for the space they take, but also because the leaves, fruits, and flowers are also edible. Fruit trees like mango, avocado, breadfruit, lychee are seasonal but produce a lot of fruit that are good for trade and some can be preserved. I have a lot of potted citrus trees so I have some fruit nearly all year. I can also grow most of the herbs I use year round: rosemary, thyme, Jamaican oregano, ginger, green onions, lemon grass, and hot peppers.

Onions, potatoes, carrots, celery, flour, and rice are staples that I need to buy. I cannot grow a year round supply and they are not that easy to grow.

Some things can only be grown seasonally like peanuts,jicama, borage, nasturtiums, broccoli, Brussel's sprouts, and cabbages. Some like round cabbages and Brussels sprouts take up a lot of space for their yield and space is always a premium.

Everything I need to grow plants from the potting soil, fertilizer, tools, and some pest control needs to be imported. I can get locally made compost but the pH is 8.13 and too high for 2 of my plots. I do vermicomposting so I recycle my kitchen scraps. I don't have the space or enough browns to get a pile to heat up to the thermophillic range. I also don't have the space for a compost pile. I don't like it at my house because it attracts too much vermin and it would be too close to the house.

Water here is primarily from artesian wells. In storms our wells are usually not at risk the way that Majuro,Saipan, and Guam are. I just have to pay ridiculously high sewer charges. My water bill is usuall $20-$30 a month but the sewer charges are almost $100 a month.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

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digitS'
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Re: Self-sufficiency, what to/can/can't you grow and store?

In the fall gardeners thread, Imafan was talking a good deal about seed. Saving seed is something of an art and a science. It can take a fair amount of growing space and months out of the growing season before sufficent seed for a large garden is mature. And then, remember the lessons of the early Icelandic settlements, desperate times, and how the next season's seed was eaten, along with the milk cow ...

Modern self-sufficiency is darn near impossible. A second or third generation would be faced with the most primitive of technology. Culture develops over generations or it regresses. Hunters and gatherers and subsistence farmers are highly skilled. With limited specialization, individuals have to be jacks of all trades. The learning curve for someone from a developed country would be steep!

I grew up on farms and as a young person tried to live even more simply but I needed some money for the tractor, pickup, other equipment, clothing, etc. Having enough food wasn't too much trouble but I was eating a lot of meat and eggs, drinking milk, and I grew rather exhausted from all the winter stew and cabbage rolls. I didn't can and still don't. There was a cellar and I didn't have much trouble in a northern Idaho climate keeping meat through the winter, outdoors. Under my bed, it was cover to cover winter squash :). Summers, I had "store-bought" food as I was busy on neighboring farms. I never had a flour mill but could reach into the bin of a combine and scoop out as much wheat as I could have carried away ... I did buy wheat for the chickens from the farmers.

My DW much prefers fresh vegetables and fruit to canned, frozen or dry. We have annual gardens on the property of friends. Here at home is a small greenhouse, a few garden beds, some raspberry vines, and a peach tree. With a few square feet of lawn and some flowers, we have filled the space available on our lot. Elsewhere, we have access to all the ground we could possibly make use of for gardening but I joke that we sell vegetables through the summer so that we have $ to buy broccoli in the winter. That's only half in jest.

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Re: Self-sufficiency, what to/can/can't you grow and store?

I think it is TERRIBLE that the utility company can forbid people to put up solar panels. However, they can only do that for people who still want to be on the grid -- basically selling the power they generate to the utility, then buying some back during off hours.

The utility has no way to stop anyone from being OFF the grid. With the Tesla PowerWall and other power storage technologies, it is getting easier to do that. Instead of selling your excess power generated to the grid then buying it back later, you just store it for off hours.
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Re: Self-sufficiency, what to/can/can't you grow and store?

The big problem with off-grid power is the battery bank that is required for use when the sun isn't shining. It takes a lot of expensive batteries to have a back-up that can power heavy duty equipment. And batteries don't last as long as they should for the price. We've bought ups systems that cost a few hundred $$$ and end up failing within a few years. It's a lot of money to toss into the trash every few years. Even my solar powered lights with built in batteries don't last more than a few years and the ones where you can replace the batteries never work once the batteries are replaced. Not to mention that even regular flashlight type batteries that are rechargeable don't last very long either, even when properly recharged.

The next item on my shtf wishlist is a hand pump for the well. Yes, we've got water available within easy carrying distance but that's all surface water. The water is still stored under the earth but a hand pump makes it easily accessible.

We're still in the process of figuring out which fruits, vegetables, and nuts would be best for our situation. I know I won't be growing almonds or pecans or bananas here any time without a major climate shift. Black walnuts are already on site and producing. Hopefully the hickory trees start to produce soon. But so many times I end up losing entire crops to animals. Something has cleaned out my figs and apples a few times. Deer ate all the melons one year. Squirrels get the peaches every year. Birds have totally devoured every single grain crop I have ever grown (except the amaranth which is really difficult to harvest and thresh). And the groundhogs eat whatever they can get their grubby paws on, even standing on their hind legs to eat plants in pots. Of course that means I've got plenty of meat walking around in the yard just waiting to be placed in the frying pan.

There's not enough land for large livestock so I cannot produce my own milk or cheese. I would have some sort of poultry if that wasn't against local zoning regulations. Pigeons aren't considered to be livestock and are perfectly legal but I have to build a coop for them. A hydroponic fish pond isn't really possible but I have access to the fish in a nearby major stream. I have considered raising prawns but would have to build a pond for them and I'm not sure that would be making the best use of my limited growing space.

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Self-sufficiency, what to/can/can't you grow and store?

RE: The big problem with off-grid power is the battery bank that is required for use when the sun isn't shining. It takes a lot of expensive batteries to have a back-up that can power heavy duty equipment. And batteries don't last as long as they should for the price.

Look in to the Tesla PowerWall. It is a lithium ion battery pack designed for solar homes, stores energy when excess is produced and gives it back on off hours. It was just introduced last year and is now on the 2.0 version. Cost is $5500 and it is warrantied for 10 years. (But the battery in my partner's Prius was warrantied for ten years also. Twelve years later it is still going strong!)

Image

I don't know what you mean by "heavy duty equipment" but it should run most of our household. We might have to be careful about big power draw items like space heaters when working off the battery. But we want to put a wood stove in our lower level for supplemental heat anyway. All this technology is getting better and cheaper all the time.
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Susan W
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Re: Self-sufficiency, what to/can/can't you grow and store?

Trying for self-sufficiency with produce is interesting, and has several main factors.

Household? How many, diet wants and restrictions? I'm now at just me for regular meals, so hard to get real excited about different veggies in the garden and putting stuff up. Back a couple of lifetimes ago, we were in southern IL, near Carbondale, had 2 young kids, hubs in grad school (IOW limited budget). We went for the garden, he helped till, do heavy, and I did the rest. Between freezing and canning, and eating fresh 6 months did OK. We were near orchards so I bought apples and peaches to freeze.

Time? If you work and are the main gardener and preserver is difficult and stressful.

Climate. Discussed above by others.

Locale and situation. I'm a vendor at a farmers market most Saturdays, so have access to whatever-is-fresh. If there's something I really want, pick out early. Otherwise usually wait until closing and most of us selling at discount, trading, gifting. I'm usually next to an orchard vendor, and have brought home plenty of bruised peaches and apples! I don't eat many eggs (probably should eat more) and can usually get at the market $5/dz.

Just some thoughts from the mid-south. 2016 rainfall about 60", slightly above average, and starting 2017 wet.
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rainbowgardener
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Re: Self-sufficiency, what to/can/can't you grow and store?

Chattanooga ended the year with 34.6" of rain, but only because we got 5" in December. Up until 1 Dec, we had 29.5 " Average here is 52" a year, so even with wet Dec, we ended up quite a bit short. Jan starting out wet too. It is really good that the trees are going into winter well hydrated.
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digitS'
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Re: Self-sufficiency, what to/can/can't you grow and store?

The nearest Weather Service Station with annual average records (Spokane, WA) tells us that there was 18.30 inches of precipitation here in 2016. This was a little above average and about 4 inches more than in the last few years when the area was in drought conditions.

Still, it was a very dry growing season. We started out fairly well and, after the frosts, there was a record amount of rain in October. The last month, it has been somewhat snowy but we are again falling short of average for precipitation.

This area is near the borders of the evergreen forests. I worry about the obvious stress the pine trees show just a little further west but we are supposed to have more snow this winter with the La Niña conditions.

Steve
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imafan26
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Re: Self-sufficiency, what to/can/can't you grow and store?

I prefer my vegetables fresh. I have actually gotten spoiled by having fresh vegetables that I only buy a few frozen or canned ones. Canned corn, pumpkin, beans, and tomatoes are the ones I usually buy. I rarely buy fresh tomatoes but I eat all the corn I have fresh so there is nothing left to can and I have tried freezing, but it does not taste quite the same. I used to buy more canned vegetables, like beets, spinach, peas and carrots, asparagus, and occasionally green beans, but now I find they are too salty and soggy. I actually have a couple of pounds of cowpeas (pink and black eyed peas). I grew them primarily as a cover crop but I saved a lot of seeds. I really haven't tried cooking with them.

I have gotten used to planning meals around what is available in the garden so much that now that I don't have a lot growing, I am finding out how much I was actually saving by not having to buy as much produce (and how much better it is fresh). I am going back to my old way of eating which is more meat and starch based and I find that I have gotten used to eating a lot less meat that I actually find a meat rich diet to be too heavy. I have been eating vegetable based stir fries and stews with very small quantities of meat for so a long time. Not to say that I am ready to go all vegetarian, I would still miss the flavor that meat adds to a dish, I just don't really need to have a lot of it anymore. I plan my meals around the squash or eggplant I have growing rather than around the protein. On some days and nights, when I don't have anything prepared, I will make omelette, baked potato, or ramen a meal. I use a lot of eggs and I think I would miss that, but I usually keep a lot of canned goods around so I could actually live off that for some time. I usually keep an extra bag of cat food around so I would have a month of cat food for the cats on hand all of the time. My problem is less not having enough, but actually hoarding so much that I end up having to throw a lot of it away because I don't use it in time. I have been trying to work on that part, and I have made some progress but I still have 2 refrigerators and a chest freezer packed to the top and a small mountain of canned goods even though I have made a concerted effort to buy less.

I do save a lot of seeds from my garden. Some I have to save since the seeds are not that easy to find. I have gotten seeds in trade and every year I take a couple of months to decide what I seeds to buy since I have a bulging seed bag and this year my seed wish list is around $230 and I have to cut that down some more. This year I did toss out some seeds that were over 5 years old and some seeds that failed the germination test.

My soil tests indicate that I only need nitrogen for most of the plots at least for a couple of years more. Twenty lbs of sulfate of ammonia lasts a few years. Slug bait though is very costly $58 for 20lbs and it has to be applied every two weeks so it doesn't go far. Getting quality compost and potting soil is where most of the garden costs are going. Even black plastic costs over a $100 for a 100 ft roll. I have to replace some of the older pots that have become to brittle to use and it is very expensive to buy bigger pots and today's pots just don't last as long.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

ButterflyLady29
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Re: Self-sufficiency, what to/can/can't you grow and store?

Heavy duty equipment, anything that draws a lot of current. Electric range, baseboard heat, well pump, sump pump, water heater, washer, etc. I didn't see anything on their site that allowed a potential buyer to rate their system size with usage as a factor. Only the number of bedrooms which isn't a good estimate of use. But according to their site we would need 2 powerwalls. And to plan for our common late winter weeks on end of cloudy weather we would probably need more than 2 if we wanted to go off-grid. This is even with the use of our wood burning stove and passive solar heat. You'll notice I didn't include a clothes dryer in heavy duty equipment. The nice thing about wood heat is that you can set up drying racks near the stove and dry laundry on them. The moisture from line drying is not the horrid monster that putting your dryer exhaust into the house is.

While we burn wood for heat we really have no way of being able to produce enough of our own wood to keep the house heated. I've got a few trees that need to be cut down but even by cutting and splitting all of them it wouldn't be enough to heat the house for more than a couple years. Unfortunately none of those trees are maple so there's no chance of getting sap for syrup.

One thing about trying to reduce your footprint and burning wood is the huge amount of ash that wood produces. When we burn pallets and waste wood we usually throw the ashes in the trash since it's so hard to remove all the nails even with a good magnet. Ashes without nails can be spread on the lawn or garden (but you have to be careful not to put too much ash in the garden because it can change your pH).

My grandparents grew most of the food we ate. We had chickens and cows and a lot of their food was grown on the farm. The garden was a huge plot and we had a huge old grape vine and the strawberry patch was bigger than my medium garden. In the woods there were wild berries and mushrooms and black walnuts. We had a pond with fish and the creek was full of crawdads. Too bad grandpa didn't know how to fix crawdad because it's really good and he would have loved it. Even then we bought food we couldn't produce.

A few years ago I had a beautiful salad garden in the basement. I had 3 different types of lettuce and ate salad every couple days for weeks. I put potting soil in milk jugs with the top cut off and planted lettuce in them and set them under a bank of lights. No bugs, no groundhogs, it was the best salad garden I ever grew.

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Self-sufficiency, what to/can/can't you grow and store?

I said to start with that we will never be self-sufficient. That's a very high bar. But I think getting as close as we can is a good thing, for a whole bunch of reasons. (By the end of this year we expect to have our mortgage paid off and next to zero utility bills, since our all electric house will be running off solar panels. Makes for very low living expenses!)

I don't have to deal with well pump or sump pump. One of our next foot print reducing steps will be a tankless on-demand water heater:
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Instead of burning fuel 24/7 to keep water hot all the time for the one hour (or whatever) a day that you use it, it heats the water only as needed.

The new generation of high efficiency wood burning stoves and fireplaces are very low emissions.

https://www.livescience.com/42390-wood-s ... stove.html

"Some models on display used computer technology, gas-flow analyses or catalytic converters to reduce emissions and increase efficiency. An entry from the University of Maryland used a thermoelectric generator (TEG) — which derives energy from the heat of the stove — to power a fan that pulled warm exhaust air back into the stove, improving efficiency while also conserving heat.
Competition winner Woodstock Soapstone of Vermont, however, improved on existing technologies to create a stove that achieved an impressive 82 percent wood-burning efficiency, while generating only 0.54 grams of particulate emissions per hour, according to Popular Mechanics
While Woodstock Soapstone's winning design, dubbed the Ideal Steel, isn't yet available to the general public, when it does go to market (sometime later this year), it should retail for less than $2,000. That amount could represent a considerable energy savings for people who live in cold climates and/or drafty houses. And a federal tax credit, as well as some state and local government incentives, make wood stoves an even more attractive alternative. "

Besides being less polluting than the average furnace, these high efficiency stoves make a little bit of wood go a long way.

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https://www.astove.co.uk/p/5kw-high-effi ... stove.html

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Scandinavian style ceramic stoves
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This is just a few examples. Efficient wood stoves come in many models, types, sizes

To approach self-sufficiency, we can't just try to go back to our grandparents time. We need to also use the best of new technology.
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pomerinke
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Re: Self-sufficiency, what to/can/can't you grow and store?

If only the idea of conservation was more widespread in America.

Where I grew up in Missouri, we always had great summers for a garden, though I never much participated except to challenge my sister to see who could eat more hot peppers. Mostly my parents grew tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers. We never canned or preserved, though. Sometimes my mom would put the peppers in the windows to dry, but that was it.
I always lived close enough to woods to hunt, but I never did. I'm a decent shot, and could do it if necessary, but it wasn't something that our family really was into. I did (and still do) love fishing. If I had to start from scratch to provide food, that's where I would start.

As for electricity, the biggest use would be heat, and keeping clean. If we're considering the type of occurrence that would cause this type of societal regression, then the majority of your electrical needs would disappear overnight. Consider TV, Internet, and cable/satellite would be useless.

Where I'm at now, in Okinawa, the weather seems to be warm enough to grow all year. (I haven't had a plant through the winter yet, because I've just recently started gardening) Of course, being a small tropical island, fish is in abundance as well. And again, fishing would be the first place I would start if I needed to provide my own source of sustenance. Gardening would be my number 2 because I'm so limited on space.

Slightly off topic is the sustainability of the different cultures. In Japan for example, they are almost ultra conservative when it comes do daily life. Everyone recycles. They have booths set up at festivals with people staffing them to help everyone separate their trash into the right bins! Most people even turn off the shower water when they are lathering, as to not waste it. When me and my wife moved in together, her electric bill more than doubled. She had a computer she hadn't used in at least two years, and she had just cancelled her internet a few months before I met her. She only had a small tv and her cell phone. At that apartment, we had a dryer, but I only saw her use it during a typhoon that lasted more than 2 days. Otherwise we dried clothes outside.

I guess the point I'm making is a lot of people don't realize how much stuff they have is actually unnecessary. I think in a self-sufficiency test, most people would surprise themselves with the things they can go without. Humans are adaptable creatures, which is why we're still here.
One of our next foot print reducing steps will be a tankless on-demand water heater
These are standard fare where I'm at. And I have a love hate relationship with them. Electricity is expensive here, so most use natural gas to heat. My biggest problem is I have to run the bathroom sink on hot or the trip switch will cut off while I'm still in the shower. So while I'm enjoying my nice warm shower, it'll suddenly get bone cold. After a few seconds the heater turns back on when it detects the temperature drop, but I can't imagine most people understand how infuriating that could be. It's not nearly as bad during the summer, and the ground and building actually get warm enough I don't even use hot water for my showers during the hottest months of the year.
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ButterflyLady29
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Re: Self-sufficiency, what to/can/can't you grow and store?

In some areas the new technology is wonderful and very helpful. I would love to have an inline water heater but that's not in the budget just yet. We're still using our 25 year old fiberglass Marathon water heater. The new spray on foam insulation would be very helpful in the attic and crawlspace.

The advances in solar technology alone are amazing compared to what was available even 20 years ago. Unfortunately we live in a heavily wooded area and are lucky to have half day sun in the summer. The only reason the passive solar works is because the trees aren't blocking the low winter sunlight. It's also an area where there is no city water or gas lines. The hand pump for the well is our next big purchase because I don't want to carry buckets of questionable creek water up the hill when the power goes out. While new wood stoves are more efficient I'm stuck with the one that came with the house and is the only thing that fits in the current space. I want one of the heat induction fans that set on top of the stove and circulates faster according to the temperature.

Old technology like clothes lines and reel type mowers are still viable options. Sun drying herbs and smoking meat over a fire are also very old school methods that work just as well today as they did thousands of years ago. But I sure don't need a dryer that connects to the internet or a fridge that tracks my leftovers and calls me when the cold cuts are past their prime. On the other hand, flashlights and battery powered lanterns are so much safer than oil lamps and open flame candles. Yes, a blending of both old and new technology is currently the best way to try minimizing our footprint.

I would like to see more solar powered light options and ones that are more reliable than what is currently available. We use flashlights very frequently and are always buying batteries. The current solar lights have batteries that can't withstand cold temperatures and don't last very long. We use them to light the walkway to the house but they are useful only in the warmer months.

Have you seen the new LED strip lights? We bought some to install in the basement and crawlspace to replace the florescent shop lights. While they may not be bright enough for plant growth (haven't experimented in that area yet) they provide more than enough light for nearly any indoor task. I can't say if they really made an impact on our electric bill but they don't have that constant hum and are easy on the eyes.

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pomerinke
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Re: Self-sufficiency, what to/can/can't you grow and store?

The LED strip lights are great. I would like to have some of them in my home, but being in an apartment prevents any kind of home improvement.

I would expect them to use quite a bit less electricity based on what I've read.
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ButterflyLady29
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Re: Self-sufficiency, what to/can/can't you grow and store?

I will admit I'm not really seeing a difference in my bill. I pay less than 12 cents per kwh so it would take a lot of kilowatts before I would notice a real difference. Not running the dryer for a couple loads of laundry saves me much more money. Replacing the old freezer in the basement would save even more. It's on the list, but it needs to be emptied first and it's crammed full of food. Right now I'm in the process of making jam and jelly out of last summers harvest of grapes and berries. I've already made 15 jars of blackberry/currant jelly. The grapes and some farm market cherries are next. Hubby won't need to buy jelly later this year.

I am expanding the vineyard. One vine is producing some already and we planted 6 more in the fall. I can't wait to experiment with juice and jelly from 3 different varieties. The blueberry bushes are growing, they would do better if I would fence the rabbits out. I also planted a staghorn sumac shrub. I've heard how you can make a lemonade type drink from the seed heads and am really anxious to try that. Also scheduled for spring is revamping the berry patches. I want to expand the blackberry patch and make new raspberry patches. Right now the raspberries are a weedy overgrown mess which is very difficult to harvest. In a few years I might be able to sell some jelly and make a little $$.

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Re: Self-sufficiency, what to/can/can't you grow and store?

pomerinke wrote:The LED strip lights are great. I would like to have some of them in my home, but being in an apartment prevents any kind of home improvement.

I would expect them to use quite a bit less electricity based on what I've read.
Solar battery recharger + 12 volt battery + LED strips light or auxiliary LED auxiliary driving light for cars + fuse + wire + switch = almost free light.

Put lights in my shed with left over stuff in the garage this way.... progressed to desk lamps and all kinds of things. Will probably canabalize the shed lights to make a compost tea brewer this summer. Have a DC air pump from moving aquariums.
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pomerinke
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Re: Self-sufficiency, what to/can/can't you grow and store?

ID jit wrote: Solar battery recharger + 12 volt battery + LED strips light or auxiliary LED auxiliary driving light for cars + fuse + wire + switch = almost free light.
Great idea! I'll definitely try something like that once I move.

ButterflyLady, I'm extremely jealous you can grow blueberries. I've always wanted to. Do you make wine? I've tried a few different blueberry wines, and I think they're better than most others.
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Re: Self-sufficiency, what to/can/can't you grow and store?

Have been trying to find a way to get full spectrum sun light out of LED's ....

If they can grow bananas in Iceland with geothermic heat and electricity, don't see why I can't figure out how to use a solar furnace with heat sink and PV panels + batteries + capacitors to create a fake New England June in a small green house. (Think this is especially true with the way the climate is headed.)
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Re: Self-sufficiency, what to/can/can't you grow and store?

So far (3 years) the blueberry bushes haven't produced anything. I had one that produced a few berries but I covered it with a curtain to keep the birds out and the bush died. I now have wildlife netting which keeps birds out without overheating the plants.

I've never tested the pH of my soil. I know it should be tested but so far everything is growing well enough to keep the rabbits well fed. I add a lot of leaf mulch every year and now I've been putting coffee grounds around the bushes. I spread pine sawdust with rabbit manure and urine over the ground under the bushes too.

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sweetiepie
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Re: Self-sufficiency, what to/can/can't you grow and store?

Answering the thread's question. I can almost anything, milk, meat, garden produce, etc. I would love a way to store lettuce. I just don't have a good place in the house to raise lettuce indoors and freezing and canning are out.

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digitS'
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Re: Self-sufficiency, what to/can/can't you grow and store?

Sufficient seed in your self-sufficiency and sprouts plus microgreens should be a possibility.

Probably, most vegetable gardeners are hungry for salad greens along about ..

. mid-January.

;) Steve
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Re: Self-sufficiency, what to/can/can't you grow and store?

I'm so enjoying the discussion here. You've all gone and are thinking way beyond anything I had contemplated and I'm just taking notes. 8)

BTW re LED lighting, have you seen the gmc sierra commercial? If they can do high beams with LED lights, it should be possible to have plant grow lights, too, right?
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Re: Self-sufficiency, what to/can/can't you grow and store?

From what I read the regular LED lights do not have the full spectrum of light. They do make LED grow lights but they are very expensive. Maybe in time the price will come down. The good thing about LED is that they should last a long time, but flourescents do too.
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Re: Self-sufficiency, what to/can/can't you grow and store?

applestar wrote:I'm so enjoying the discussion here. You've all gone and are thinking way beyond anything I had contemplated and I'm just taking notes. 8)

BTW re LED lighting, have you seen the gmc sierra commercial? If they can do high beams with LED lights, it should be possible to have plant grow lights, too, right?
I haven't found any grow lights that are reasonable.
Have found UV and IR LEDs though. Building LED arrays isn't hard, just a lot of soldering and a little, pretty simple math. Materials are all relitively cheap to build LED arrays, but it is time consuming.

What I haven't been able to find is a breakdown of full sunlight in a form I can use....
something like __% light in this wavelength + __% light in this wavelength ....

Do know that strawberry plants will live under "day light" LED bulbs. Kind of hard for me to sya how well they don because I have been playing with mixes and wasn't as patient and gentle through the runner rooting process as I should have been.
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digitS'
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Re: Self-sufficiency, what to/can/can't you grow and store?

What do we eat?

This is a "Per capita consumption of major food commodities" Table from the USDA. It is just a part of a larger table including more years. There wasn't a great deal of difference over these 20 years and it was easier for me to copy this part off the pdf file, so here it is :):
commodities3.JPG
I hope it is legible. It's from https://www.ers.usda.gov and the 711 pounds per capita consumption of fruits and vegetables must be most relevant to this discussion. Of course, the ~200# of flour and cereal products might be included and it's all, potentially, within the scope of a homesteader ;): 109# red meat, 14# fish, 64# poultry, 30# eggs, 567# dairy, 64# fats & oils, even the 22# of "other," I suppose.

It would be no small feat for a couple adults but imagine doing this for a large family ... our ancestors were an accomplished and admirable people!

Steve
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Re: Self-sufficiency, what to/can/can't you grow and store?

Just an update on how the self sufficiency project is going:

We did get the solar panels. In the season of long days, more or less April through Oct, they produce enough to cover our needs in our all electric house and in summer we get a small amount of income from selling off the excess. In short days we have to pay a small amount.

I looked in to tankless water heaters, but that turns out not to be very workable with all electric. When they turn on to heat water when needed, fast, they draw a whole bunch of power. We would have to add a lot of extra heavy duty wiring that our house doesn't have, to support that. Not cost effective, unfortunately.

Still don't have the rainbarrels. But now that we have been through four growing seasons here, of which two had extended periods of record breaking heat/ drought, I am moving that up on the priority list. Craigslist always has these listed:
water tank.jpg
water tank.jpg (20.52 KiB) Viewed 560 times
275 gallon water totes, used, clean, food grade, usually for around $100. I want two of them, attached to downspouts. For an extra $20 you can get adapter to fit a hose to it. Supporting it has been an issue. But I talked to our handy man. He is going to pour level concrete slabs for them to sit on. Then I can build a support system to raise them with concrete blocks and 3/4" plywood. So by 2020 growing season I WILL have this!

We have added avocado and banana trees and two apricot trees. None of them are fruiting yet, but in process.

I continue to work on using more of the volunteer edibles, like chickweed, purple dead nettle, and clover. (As well as the purslane, lambsquarters and others that I have used for a long time.) Considering harvesting some of the kudzu which is rampant around here in growing season and is allegedly edible.

One new project for 2020 is sugar beets. I ordered sugar beet seeds and will try growing them and then try producing sugar from them. It would be nice to produce some of our own sweetener. Some day I would love to have bees, for pollination as well as honey. So far it has been daunting in terms of knowledge and equipment required. And in current conditions, difficult. Everyone I know who has bees has had die offs and had to replace them. And takes a lot of work to keep them healthy. In the mean time, I am hoping sugar beets might be an alternative source of sweetening.

We have seven hens, but six of them have now been through three years of laying seasons. (The seventh is one year younger) This is all new territory for us, never having had chickens before we got these, but we are assuming by 2020, they will slow down on egg production. So we are thinking about adding two or three young ones in spring, but have to figure out space for them.
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Re: Self-sufficiency, what to/can/can't you grow and store?

Directions for the future:

If we really had to be self sufficient, what else would we need? So far the main protein source is the eggs and the hens don't lay in the winter. We could work on keeping them laying more by adding light in the chicken coop. If we got desperate, I suppose we could kill the chickens when they aren't laying and eat them :shock: :( But I'm a vegetarian and they are pets, so we would have to be starving. We could add a fish tank and grow tilapia or other food fish. I want to get some nut trees going. So far I have tried a couple times and haven't managed to get any established and surviving. Re the kudzu suggestion above, it is said that the "potato like" root of the kudzu vine is full of protein, iron, fiber, and other nutrients. are full of protein, iron, fiber, and other nutrients. https://www.thekitchn.com/did-you-know- ... udzu-92488

We should really have some pawpaw and persimmon, being the only native fruits here. And we could have grape vines on our fences.

We are missing dairy, citrus, and grains. Conceivably we could get one of the little mini goats for goats milk, but that is far down the list of what is likely to happen with our suburban less than half an acre. Citrus I could work on growing in a pot. Grains we will never grow enough to make much difference. So my next step is to make contact with local organic producers, arrange to have a local supply of those things.
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Re: Self-sufficiency, what to/can/can't you grow and store?

So fun to “hear” about your progresses! FYI Kudzu root is harvested and processed in the winter, so if you know where they are, this is the time to dig them up. If I remember correctly, the reason for this is they spoil very rapidly (probably due to high levels of nutrients), so I suppose in this day and age, you can refrigerate as you process — main part of the need for cold to near freezing temperatures is that you need to let the starches settle in the liquid suspension. But it’s also possible that wintertime is when all the nutrients are stored in the roots.

If you can’t find a good guide.instruction, I could look up for Japanese ones — I don’t know if I still have the links I “unearthed” before. I also have a book — something like ”The Kidzu Book” (it’s in English) — somewhere In the house ..... you might be able to find it on interlibrary loan, if they still do that? Or maybe google books....

...oh look... it’s available on Amazon —
https://www.amazon.com/Book-Kudzu-Culin ... 0895292874
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Re: Self-sufficiency, what to/can/can't you grow and store?

Thanks very much, applestar ! Also I love getting an immediate response to a post made in the middle of the night! :)
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Re: Self-sufficiency, what to/can/can't you grow and store?

Talking about self sufficiency reminds me of the biosphere 2 experiment in Arizona that ultimately failed. Below are two accounts of what happened. One was seen with more "rose colored glasses" than the other.
Here's my take on it
1. Biosphere 2 was an ambitious undertaking by scientists who tried to live for 2 years in a mini earth environment.
a. Their expectations were that they would be able to be self sufficient and still have time for "coffee" and other luxuries and
free time to spend in the "library"
b. All of the participants were "scientists". Not a farmer, laborer, or survivalist among them. They had to learn from scratch
and make a lot of mistakes as well learning how to survive in a subsistence environment. Needless to say, the science
and attitudes probably got in the way.

In ancient cultures, during the development of civilization, family groups had to
bond together and later form clans and communities where everyone had to cooperate as truly "no man is an island unto
himself". Egalitarian societies, everyone worked to their best ability, some were the hunters and gatherers, there were
some with special skills like tool making, pottery, food and clothing preparation. Only much later when the nomadic
people settled in a permanent place, did they start to control their environment and their destiny by raising crops instead
of foraging and raising flocks instead of following herds. Only with food security and a defensible fortress or town could
other things like music and art flourish and specialists like scientists ever be able to live.

The people who started the experiment were adventures but were not otherwise bonded into cooperation for the benefit
of the group, not the individual. They had the wrong skill sets, they were not jack-of-all-trades, common folk
used to "living off the land", or survivalists.

2. The biosphere design was flawed. The sealed dome, built up greenhouse gases and CO2. Fresh air had to be pumped in and the sphere had to leak so it was no longer a self contained environment less than 10 months from the start of the 2 year experiment.

3. The stresses of living in close quarters with food insecurity, everyone lost weight (although they later claimed it was not a bad thing). If you have ever had to go on a diet intentionally or not, your body and mind can get a bit irritable. There were fights over
chores, accusations of hoarding and smuggling illegal items. They were not friends by the time they got out of the biodome.

4. In the end most of the plants died, they ate all the animals. Only the bananas thrived, probably because at least in Hawaii, bananas are a no-brainer crop, they can take care of themselves as long as they have lots of water. Bananas are filling as well.

https://dartmouthalumnimagazine.com/art ... y-happened
https://roadtrippers.com/magazine/biosp ... xperiment/

It is hard to be totally self sufficient in today's world. We all have gotten used to our comforts. I would not like to have to haul water again for daily needs. I get car withdrawal after a day. I like indoor plumbing and it would be hard for me if I would have to actually catch and butcher my own meat. I don't even like to go fishing, because if I catch anything, I just want it off without having to touch it. I rarely eat fish because I don't like it, but I have attempted to buy and clean fish and I had a hard time with the slimy feel of the fish even cleaning it was difficult.

As for growing things, I would have to choose things that grow easily that have high yields with little care. That leaves out most of the things in the super market. Carrots, beets, lettuce, bulb onions, head cabbage, and probably bell peppers would be out.
For my environment, and if I had the space, chayote, gourds, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, cucumber, amaranth, NZ spinach, swiss chard, bitter melon (I don't like this very much, but it is a weed in my yard), beans (also not a favorite), Asian greens, taro, ginger, citrus trees (multiple crops per year), eggplant (its a staple here and a couple of plants will yield 8 fruit every 2 weeks for years), hot and long sweet peppers (easier to grow; better yields). Herbs will also practically take care of themselves although they do not add a lot of calories. Storage would be a problem without electricity. Everything would have to be fresh, dried, or pickled. Space would also be a limitation since very few people here have cellars and our houses and lots are relatively small.
I have extended my house from 912 sq ft to 1984 sf. The house and garage footprint is 1900 sq feet. I have 3500 sq ft of yard. The HOA does not allow "vegetative" crops in the front yard, but I do pack a lot of different plants, mostly in small quantities in pots and in the main garden of my yard. I sneak some "vegetative" crops in the front yard, since the inspectors don't know they are edible. My whole residential lot would fit in James' garden.

I think self sufficiency as individuals would be very hard. Survival would depend on bonding as a cooperative group and sharing or trading skills and tasks.

My uncle lives on the big Island. Now, there are more people living there but for many years there were only 4 houses in the area. My uncle had a vegetable garden and he raised Rhode Island Red Chickens to sell the eggs. His neighbor had a pig.
Whenever, the neighbors wanted vegetables they could ask him and he would let them take it from his garden. He often sold excess at the farmer's market. Once he recounted how unscrupulous the vendors could be. An "organic" vendor offered to
buy his cucumbers because they looked really nice. He told them he used commercial fertilizer but the vendor did not care.

He would take his kitchen waste over to feed the pig. There is no public trash collection on the Big Island. Most people used to burn their trash until the county set limits on open burning. To this day, he or his neighbor will take each other's trash down to the recycling center. When my uncle was younger, they would go pig hunting and he bought interest in half a cow from a friend living on Hawaiian homelands. His friend had to be in agriculture to qualify so he had a couple of cows to graze the grass. (Cheaper than a lawn mower).
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

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digitS'
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Re: Self-sufficiency, what to/can/can't you grow and store?

I was a backyard chicken keeper for many years. When I lived on acreage, I guess that I was a farmstead chicken keeper - always, small flocks .

Chickens require almost the same diet as their keepers. Yes, they can be vegetarians but the nutrients must be dense, as it is in seeds. They can and will benefit from fresh fruit and vegetables but, for the most part, there isn't sufficient nutrients for the egg-layers of modern breeds to be very productive. Also, just like us, if they tried to live on something like lettuce, they would starve from inadequate calories. Only a critter with a digestive system and capacity like a cow can live on that diet.

So, what do we do about the nutritious grains that we &/or our chickens need?

In most residential backyards, it would be near impossible to grow enough grain for a household or henyard. Out in the exurbs where there is acreage associated with each residence, it would be a different story. If you have that land resource or "garden on other people's property" as I do, it could be a different story.

Since I have sold surplus produce at a farmers' market for some time, I once wondered if keeping a flock that would produce sufficient eggs to take to the market would make sense. The neighbor to one garden was interested in making some use of about an acre of ground where he had once kept a horse. There was a nice shed that could be used for a hen house but I realized that the entire acre would have to be put into grain, and a mix of grains at that.

Wheat is a major farm crop here. Lentils, peas and chickpeas are also grown in abundance. So, these choices for both humans and livestock are reasonable ones. The problem was the size of the ground and the processing of the grain necessary to make it a reasonable undertaking.

Let's say that 40 bushels of this food per acre could be expected each year. Let's make that pounds for us American consumers and say 2400 pounds. And, let's leave aside the processing.

Go back to the USDA chart that I posted above: per person, ~200# of flour and cereal products. Okay, that is sufficient for a dozen people! But ... each of those people with their typical American diet is eating: 109# red meat, 14# fish, 64# poultry, 30# eggs, 567# dairy. Oh boy. Now, that big family is in serious competition over the grain with their livestock!

A laying hen eats about 1/4# of well-balanced, processed feed each day. A small flock of 4 hens is eating 1# or ... 365# each year! ... See where I'm going with this?

Steve :-?
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Re: Self-sufficiency, what to/can/can't you grow and store?

See above: "We are working towards what self-sufficiency we can, knowing we will never be completely self sufficient." I never set out for real self sufficiency. For me it is just sort of an interesting hobby to see how close we can get and I like having skills.

So I am not likely to ever generate our own food for the hens. They have quality commercial chicken food on hand as much as they want all the time. But their diet is supplemented and diversified by foraging our back yard about five hours a day and by a certain amount of table scraps, mostly things like strawberry tops and lettuce. They are NOT allowed in my gardens!! :D

I eat zero #s of red meat, fish, and poultry. And being an old lady, I eat less of everything than I used to... Still quantity is an issue. I grow enough to keep us eating pretty well in the growing season, but not enough to feed us through the winter as well. I do what I can manage of freezing, canning, etc. but out of the garden food is more a treat than a staple in winter. And even what I am doing of providing for us, is only because I am (semi) retired. It is labor intensive and I could never have done it while I was working full time and raising a child.
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Re: Self-sufficiency, what to/can/can't you grow and store?

By selecting what is high yielding and productive, I can get most of my vegetables for the year. I can't really be self sufficient in some staples like onions, carrots, potatoes, garlic, or rice. All of those crops are not only seasonal and hard for me to grow here. I could never grow enough or be able to store them adequately long term to supply me for a year.
I do grow most of my fresh herbs and vegetables. Corn (feast or famine. It takes up a lot of space). Lemons and limes are available most of the year and extras can be frozen in ice cube trays for later. Green onions. I actually feel guilty and shocked at the price when I have to buy any at the store. Lemon grass, Kaffir leaves, chili peppers, eggplant, cucumber, tomato ( most of the year), rosemary, mint, ginger, araimo, beans if I really want it, gourds and squash 6-9 months of the year. I rarely buy gourds. Sweet potato leaves (spinach substitute), bitter melon leaves ( its a weed in my yard), and chives. Swiss chard, komatsuna and Asian vegetables grow best in cooler conditions and have repeat harvests so I can grow them at least 6-9 months of the year. I do grow some lettuce, but I still have not figured out how many and how often to plant. I still have more than I can use and times when I don't have any at all. Right now I do have some bush beans, tomatoes are starting to fruit, komatsuna, cucucumbers, eggplant, chili peppers, green onions, ginger, rosemary, thyme, mint, bay leaves, Jamaican oregano, calamondin, bilimbi, pandan, a couple of heads of lettuce, some small asian greens, beets, and Meyer lemons. At the herb garden I have Brown Turkey figs, holy basil, shiso, sweet potato leaves, katuk, and fennel. At the community garden I have more calamondin, long beans, and a few gourds may still be hiding there. I have some garlic and superex onions but they will not be ready until at least May.
I have already harvested some of the ginger and it is pickled in sherry in the frig. That will last at least a year or two.
I traded chili peppers for chili sauce and lilikoi jelly.
I trade calamondin for food ( I am still waiting for my lumpia)
I still have honey left from previous harvests.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

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Gary350
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Re: Self-sufficiency, what to/can/can't you grow and store?

I grew up on a farm in Illinois on 40 acres of land and we were probably about 80% self sufficient. We were poor but I didn't know it, if it had not been for the large garden, chickens, cows, pigs, fruit trees, grapes, we would have all starved to death. We had a 100 ft diameter pond in the field if we fished it often soon there were no fish. We had to go to town once a week to buy things like, salt, sugar, coffee, baking powder, yeast, black pepper, onions, etc. We only had the basics. I don't remember having toilet paper until about 3th grade 1958. We had eggs & chickens to eat. Grandfather had a tractor he grew a very large garden and grandmother & my 5 aunts canned it in mason jars. Everyone in the family had to help with the work. I remember me & my cousins hauling several large wheel barrel of potatoes to the seller every year. Grandmother made homemade bread every day. Grandfather grew, corn, soy beans, wheat, and baled hay in the fields. We had a well & out house, no bathroom or shower inside the house and no toilet paper. We basically lived off of, tomatoes, potatoes, corn, wheat, green beans, squash, blackberries, peaches, apples, grapes, eggs & meat. We never had any of the things we have now like snack foods & frozen dinners. We had no freezer and refrigerator was small. We killed a pig in cold weather put meat in salt barrels to cure all winter then it was cured before hot weather no refrigeration needed. Food was plain and we had to eat the same food over and over day after day. If we could not grow it and preserve it in mason jars then there was nothing to eat all winter. We had no TV and all the appliances were hand crank. I remember turning the crank to make butter from cows milk when I was 7 years old. I use to like to turn the crank to mix up batter for corn bread. We had a hand crank grinder to make flour & corn meal and a hand crank corn sheller. There is no way to be self sufficiency living in town in a sub division on a small piece of land. I try very hard to put 12 months of food in the pantry but still we have to buy things at the store like, sugar, salt, baking power, yeast, coffee, anything else is a luxury. We are all so spoiled with a grocery store not far away we don't even know it. Stop going to the grocery store, Walmart, gas station, have all your utilities turned off, try to live like people did 500 years ago. People that lived 500 years ago with no grocery store had, no salt, no sugar, no baking powder, no yeast, without many things, no wonder people were skinny food did not taste good they only ate enough to stay alive it was mostly meat and if they could not trap a few rabbits to eat they did not eat. Each of us live in a different climate that determines what we can grow and put in the pantry. I try very hard not to buy much at the grocery store we are probably no more than 10% self efficient. We have enough vegetables in the pantry for a year but we still buy things I can not grow. If we would stop buying luxury items like, onions, garlic, lettuce, cabbage, taco shells, mustard, mayo, bread, catsup, potato chips, cereal, herbs, ice cream, paper plates, paper napkins, toilet paper, soap, shampoo, tooth paste, tooth brush, clothes, shoes, and more, we might manage to be a little more self sufficient. You must save your own seeds to plant next year or there will be no more garden. When I was in grade school we all worked from sun up to dark every day April to Oct there was no time for anything else until winter then we worked on different things, repair fences, cut fire wood, repair barn, feed animals, make quilts, repair chicken house, repair out house. We had no gas power lawn mower until about 1958 we cut grass by hand before that. Garden plants had to be easy to grow we had no time to deal with bugs or grow things with little food value. My mother loved lettuce when she was working a job and had money to buy her own seeds she always planted lettuce but soon it was too hot and it went to seed. There was no internet in 1950 lots of things we did not know how to grow if it was not a big food producer we never grew it. Once all aunts & uncles got older and had money the whole family 28 people had a better life. Grandmother bought catsup at the grocery store instead of making it. Home made catsup is so good I was going to make some this summer but totally forgot, maybe next summer. Last summer we decided to see how much food we could put in the panty it was a lot of work. We are enjoying corn & beans so much we want more in the pantry next year. We can't have a celler in TN it will fill up with water so no way to keep potatoes until spring unless I can big pieces in quart mason jars. I am about to give up growing onions & garlic mine are so small it takes 4 or 5 of my onions to equal a big grocery store onion same with garlic. Best food value crops that I can grow in TN garden are, tomatoes, beans, corn, potatoes, they grew better in IL and best in MI. I wish I could grow carrots & peas and bigger onions & garlic.
Last edited by Gary350 on Mon Jan 13, 2020 2:30 am, edited 9 times in total.

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Self-sufficiency, what to/can/can't you grow and store?

"luxury items like, onions, garlic, lettuce, cabbage, taco shells, mustard, mayo, bread, catsup, potato chips, cereal, herbs, ice cream, paper plates, paper napkins, toilet paper, soap, shampoo, tooth paste, tooth brush, clothes, shoes, and more we might manage to be a little more self sufficient."

Kind of an odd list. Onions, garlic, and lettuce are so easy to grow. Lettuce does not keep well (can't be dried, frozen, canned) so only would be available in growing season, unless you have green house or indoor growing. But you could have spinach and chard in your garden most of the year, here in TN. Onion and garlic tolerate cold and freezes and keep very well. I did homemade catsup (ketchup?) for the first time last year and it was wonderful. It can be canned to last for a long time. Course it means growing a LOT of tomatoes. Just don't use paper plates and paper napkins and then they come off the list. I can't grow spices, so cinnamon, salt, pepper, nutmeg, cloves, etc are luxury items. Many herbs are easy to grow and easy to dry to keep for winter. I grow basil, oregano, thyme, sage, ginger, dill, fennel, lavender, lemon balm, bee balm, mint, coriander, sometimes caraway, parsley (doesn't dry well but is mostly evergreen in my garden), rosemary, savory, tarragon. If I had to live off our land, I would REALLY miss salt. Otherwise, life would still be flavorful.
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Gary350
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Re: Self-sufficiency, what to/can/can't you grow and store?

It has just accrued to me that people long ago had it much better than I realize. Sunday was a TV show about the last natives on earth that have not yet been effected by man & technology. They are totally self sufficient. They eat mostly all meat. They have, poison blow darts, spears, arrows, to kill animals. They wake up in the morning and shot a monkey up in the trees then cooked it and ate it. They don't grow crops. When fruit & berries are in season they eat them. No garden work. They don't do much all day just wait for the next kill to eat again. I was reading about the first people that came to the United States in 1492 they killed animals to eat. There were lots of animals long ago man had not killed them off yet. Indians lived off the land too they killed animals to eat too. Their diet was mostly free meat. Man has made life harder by inventing 1000s of different types of foods in the grocery store & we have become accustom to this and don't know any other way to eat. Food use to be dull, boring, not taste good, people ate only enough to stay alive so they stayed skinny & healthy. Now we have 1000s of unhealthy foods that taste good most people are over weight & not very healthy. In the 1800s people started growing their own food. In the 1930s tractors and farm equipment were being mass produced in factories that is when agriculture took off big time and food markets & grocery stores popped up every where. P.T. Barnum said, money is what makes everything happen. Big business invented good tasting junk food to make their self rich and we all became addicted and got fat & unhealthy.

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