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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.
- For there was a moment when anything was possible. And there will be a moment when nothing is possible. But in between we can create. -

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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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ButterflyLady29
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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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applestar
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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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imafan26
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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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ID jit
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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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rainbowgardener
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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 233 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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rainbowgardener
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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.
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

imafan26
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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.
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

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

Solar can be used to reduce your bills but before you do this you should make your house easier to heat in winter & cool in summer. Your house is like a water bucket with a big hole in the bottom you have to pump water in very fast to keep the bucket full. Make the leak 98% smaller then bucket is easy to keep full of water.

1979 I built 20 solar panels on my south facing roof. I built the root at a 45 degree angle to make solar more efficient. These are hot water panels, not electric they will heat water to 280 degrees in summer and 170 degrees on a cold sunny 15 degree winter day. On a very dark over cast 15 degree day they heat up to 100 degrees. They heat the house and also heat water for, kitchen, bathroom, laundry. In summer solar hot water panels will run a 5 hp steam engine for 4 months. Steam engine ran a generator and charged several 12v car batteries.

I put extra insulation in walls & attic plus had double glass windows to reduce heat loss. I could heat the house to 100 degrees with no storage. After adding hot water storage tanks I kept house 70 in winter during the day and 65 at night. My winter electric bill was reduced 92%. I had a washing machine but no dryer I used a yard clothes line plus I had a spare room in the house with clothes lines. I had a timer in my electric hot water heater before solar it stayed off from 7pm to 3:30 pm every day. I could use city water to wash clothes, cook, shower, for 3 hours a day. We were both gone to work from 6:20am to 4pm 5 days a week.

I had a 40 ft x 80 ft garden behind the house and we canned lots of food for the pantry.

Wife & I were young and full of energy we could do lots of work fast in those day. Now 50 years later we work all day and only get about 1 hour of work done. You need to be where you want to be in life by age 50 while you still have energy. We saved lots of money on heat & electric but we still had, house payment, car payment, taxes, insurance, and still had to buy things like clothes & food we could not grow. Moved away from there in 1991.

The cost of buying car batteries for the 5 hp steam engine generator never did quit justify its existence for the amount of money we saved on electricity. But we saved a bunch of money on heat bills. I grew up with no AC in hot weather so I was use to it but wife grew up the same way but got use to AC where she lived the past few year so we used AC about 3 months every summer but we only used it at night when sleeping. While at work every day our AC was off.

When I moved to Arizona 8 yrs ago I tried to justify solar but math never worked out. I had 6 solar companies come talk to me they talked fast and give lots of number that never added up on my calculator. ONE company called Solar City was the only company that told the truth. Solar company wants to put their solar panels on your roof they claim it makes money while giving you free electricity. To make a long store short it is best for YOU to buy your own solar panels don't mess around with the companies. It does not rain much in AZ but house roof always leak no matter how many times you call the solar company you can never get your roof leaks fixed once they have their money you will never hear from them again.

I tried to justify having solar on the house we live in now.
AC unit = 8400 watts average use, ON for 15 minutes, Off for 20 minutes, ON 42% of the time.
Electric Heat = 8000 watts, ON 20 minutes, off 10 minutes coldest days of the winter.
Hot water heater = 4800 w, ON for 12 minutes, off for 30 minutes, ON 28% of the time.
Electric clothes fryer = 4800 w, ON in winter & rainy days about 1 hr per day.
Electric stove = 3600 w, ON only at dinner time about 30 min per day.
Microwave = 1400 w, ON about 5 minutes total all day.
coffee maker = 1200 w, ON 15 minutes every morning.

Math shows demand in 8400 + 8000 + 4800 + 4800 = about 26,000. watts if these 3 big watt user items are all on at the same time.

Average power use 9000 watts, need enough batteries and DC to AC inverter to produce 10KW for peak demands.

I have looked at several solar panels they are getting better and more efficient and prices were doing down for a while. Just because they claim a panel is 100w does not mean it really is. Output depends on the angle of the sun when sun is exactly 90 to the panels on a clear day with no clouds and no dust on your panels it might do 100 watts for 1 hours as sun angle changes watts go up in morning and down after lunch. You get low watts early morning and late evening. Power could drop to 40% that gives daily average of 70 watts. Sun at my house is 34 degrees on Dec 21 and 89 degrees June 21, average is 61.5 degrees. If you put solar panels on your roof at 45 degree angle your solar panels will produce 100 watt when sun is at 45 degree angle 1 day at 12 noon in later fall and 1 day in early spring. Watts the solar panels produce are a roller coaster ride up and down morning, noon, & evening also up and down summer, fall, winter, spring. If solar panels could track the sun every day of every month you could have 100 watts like the rating says. But with fixed panels you get a daily average and a monthly average that changes with every month of the year. 100 watt solar panels at best could be about 50 to 70 watts.

Assume 60 watts is what I am getting from each $75 solar panel. 10KW / 60 watts = 167 solar panels are needed to get 10KW during the worse conditions. 167 solar panels x $75 per panel = $12,525. Dilemma is, do you want to pull the plug from power company completely or not? How long will it take for this to pay for itself?

My electric bill shows Feb to be the largest electric bill 2130KW per month = 71,000. KW per day. Need enough batteries to charge up 71 KW per day = 71 batteries all rated 1000 amp each but maximum load but electric heat is on 66% of the time so battery bank can be 33% smaller = 47 batteries at $100 per battery = $4700 every 5 years.

Solar panels cost $12,525.
Batteries cost $4700 every 5 years
10KW inverter cost $5000
Our average electric bill for 1 year about $2430.

I have to spend $22,225 to save $2430. and batteries still need to be replaced every 5 years.

If I have this system for 30 year I have to buy batteries 6 times = $28,200. assuming batteries priced never go up.

The whole system cost $45,725. for 30 years. Assume price of electricity increases 8% every year for 30 years the system will pay for itself in 11 years.

My might be dead in 11 years I don't thing it is worth if for me to have solar.

I will never have solar on the roof ever again my first solar system caused roof leaks solar panels came down every 3 years for roof repair. Finally the roof had to be replaced because of water damage. If I ever do solar again panels will be mounted in the yard on 10 ft poles so i can mow grass under them.

I have studied this over and over several times. Since sun is only available 8 hrs in winter & 13 hrs in summer and wind power is 24 hrs per day I think wind power is better in TN we have a lot of gusty wind. At my age I don't plan to have solar or wind. I have a small 400 watt wind generator I was planing to put up just to test the wind to see how much power it actually produces in 1 year before building something big but lost my motivation.

These advertisements are driving me nuts.

Check angle of sun in winter on this picture. Sun produces 442 btu when sun is at 90 degrees. Sun is 220 btu when sun is 30 degrees. Light intensity changes at the same rate on solar electric panels.

I have several solar electric panels that I put in the yard from time to time for testing light condition in different weather, heavy over cast, lots of clouds, few clouds, no clouds. When sun it at 90, 80, 70, 60, 50, 40, 30 degrees on the solar panels. 90 degrees produces the most power, 80 & 70 not much different than 90. Power starts dropping at 60 and gets less as sun goes down. Math shows it will take 11 years for this system to pay for itself. I might be dead in 11 year I don't think solar is worth it for me to have. With the invention of the new LED 8w lights I can run all 28 house light bulbs with solar panels I already have with 1 car battery all I need to do is rewire the house circuit box put all the lights on solar and leave all the rest connected to the power company but that is such a tiny amount of $2 saving each month it is still not worth it. It will be best to use solar panels I already have for something else like camping where there is no electricity. I am thinking about using solar this summer to make my own sodium chlorate weed killer from kitchen table salt to spray the fence row and poison ivy.



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