Square Foot Gardening Forum
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advise please

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advise please

Post  fenlander on 12/28/2011, 8:42 am

Hi, I've just joined this SFG forum and would like some advise please. I live in Lincolnshire in the UK and have
never grown any vegetable crops before. I would probably go through the table top route to save these old bones.

The main question is if you dont grow staples like potato (space requirement) then can you be self sufficient with all other vegetables and if so then how many SF would you need.

All this is an approximation, just trying to get my head around it all.

Regards

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Re: advise please

Post  staf74 on 12/28/2011, 9:03 am

Hi Fenlander !!!

A warm (or perhaps cold where you are) to the forum. I'm an ex-pat who emigrated from the UK in 97. You'll find many friendly people here willing to help you out. We do have a pretty frequent poster here from South Wales called "Plantoid". If you search his name, you will see his posts and perhaps you can contact him via a private message for more tips with your climate etc.

We can all help you out though with general SFG questions. To answer your question though. Are you looking to become TOTALLY self sufficient? One of my dreams is to live on a small perhaps 5 acre farm and be TOTALLY self sufficient. It takes a lot more than a few SFG's as great as they are though. Or are you looking to merely supplement your food bill? Certainly start small and build tall. You say you have not grown veggies before and therefore starting with a couple of 4x4 SFG's might be the way to go. I did that when I started and followed the "All new SFG book" by Mel. Do you have the book or read it already? How did you find us? It is eveyone's reference point here on the forum.

A book which I consider to the be the "bible" on self-sufficiency is called "The guide to self-sufficiency" by John Seymour. It covers how to do this with various sized plots of land and is an eye opener as to how practical one has to be to get this acheived. I simply LOVE this book.

Check back in when you can Very Happy
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advise please

Post  fenlander on 12/28/2011, 10:39 am

Hi staf74,
Many thanks for the swift reply! Re. John Seymour's book, yes I have read it and yes, I did have 4 1/2 acres but
never enough time to be self sufficient.

I am not looking for total self sufficiency, just a desire to produce any many veggies as possible for my own consumption.

I have just placed the book order with Amazon

Many thanks

fenlander

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Re: advise please

Post  boffer on 12/28/2011, 10:44 am

Welcome,

Being self-sufficient is a wonderful objective. However, as you're starting from scratch, it will take a few years for you to learn what you can count on to grow in your climate, and the different methods of putting up your harvests for the winter ie. canning, freezing, drying, and storing. I live in a generally cool, damp climate and can't count on warm weather crops to be productive every year, so I've been concentrating on cool crop production for veggies to put up.

As my boxes increased from year to year, I ended up with two separate gardens, one for mostly cool crops , and one for mostly warm crops. I can get two very good harvests from the cool garden. Feb-Mar planting and July-Aug planting.

Year round veggies for 2 people and dogs
carrots 15 squares
beets 20
garlic 9
onions 15-20 but still learning
cauliflower 25
broccoli 50
kohlrabi 30 but still learning

some gets stored in the ground, some gets canned, some gets frozen

When I have some decent warm weather...
green beans 20
winter squashes 10
cucumbers 5
corn 200 sf but not sfg
potatoes 70 seed potatoes but not sfg
I grow 10-15 tomato plants a year but rarely have a surplus to put up

My cool gardens




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advise please

Post  fenlander on 12/28/2011, 11:14 am

Hi boffer,

Many thanks for the quick reply.
This has given me real food for thought. I have recently retired and this may become my new "job".
I know I'll not be self sufficient in veggies but hope to produce ( after getting some experience !!)
a reasonable proportion.
Thanks again

fenlander

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Re: advise please

Post  HillbillyBob on 12/28/2011, 11:25 am

Hey boffer can you give us a close-up of your hoop frames over your beds that's a nice looking set-up Cool
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Re: advise please

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 12/28/2011, 12:07 pm

fenlander, welcome aboard!

You can see from Boffer's gardens just how much space can be required. I haven't seen people recommend the forum's starting point yet... The All-New Square Foot Gardening book by SFG founder Mel Bartholomew. He has some neat tables in the book that give you a starting point for sustainable vegetables and how much space a grown adult would require for salads and everyday vegetables for meals.

You also mentioned potatoes may be a space issue. I would look into growing potatoes in a separate area/container. People use trash cans, Rubbermaid containers, old tires, etc, to grow their potatoes. Something "stackable" is always a great idea with potatoes because you can maximize the yields from a single plant by almost converting it to a vertical growing situation. It's worth poking around this forum, or even googling when you get the time.

Hope to see more of you around. As you can see, people around here are eager to help you get started in the right direction. We also love to share our success and milestones. Pictures are worth 1000 words.

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Re: advise please

Post  boffer on 12/28/2011, 12:19 pm

This is the 'going into winter' look. These two boxes have soil heating cables in them. It's a very efficient way to turn a sfg box into a greenhouse.




The horizontal rope on the hoops makes a very good lattice for indeterminate tomatoes. The box on the left has shade cloth on, protecting a box full of broccoli in August.

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advise please

Post  fenlander on 12/28/2011, 12:23 pm

Hi BBG,

Thanks for info. I'll wait till I get the BOOK before asking any more dumb questions.
Very friendly site though.
Many thanks

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Re: advise please

Post  Chopper on 12/28/2011, 2:43 pm

I started with eight boxes as I got carried away and found I was feeling under pressure to eat! I did some crop preserving, but not much and as I am in So Cal I did not need to so much as a cold climate gardener would.

You will enjoy the book. The math is in there for squares per person. And pull out your veggie cookbooks, you are going to need them.

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advise please

Post  fenlander on 12/28/2011, 3:25 pm

Cheers Chopper,

fenlander

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Re: advise please

Post  martha on 12/28/2011, 3:31 pm

@fenlander wrote:Hi BBG,

Thanks for info. I'll wait till I get the BOOK before asking any more dumb questions.
Very friendly site though.
Many thanks

You know the only dumb question is the one you didn't ask.


(Okay, admittedly, sometimes my employees push the envelope, but still!)
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Re: advise please

Post  plantoid on 12/28/2011, 3:43 pm

@fenlander wrote:Cheers Chopper,

Hi Fenlander ,

Welcome from an EX Fenland boy first sort of guy who now lives in South Wales on your side of the pond .

I've been practicing the old method of square foot gardening of sorts for nearly 10 years and have now started my imminent migration to the " All New Square Foot Gardening " ideas using only Mels' Mix of soilless growth medium for all 22 of my raised high walled beds.

David

PS
In my book there is no such thing as a dumb question .
It just means someone didn't make things clear enough for everybody in the first place. Wink
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advise please

Post  fenlander on 12/28/2011, 3:48 pm

Thanks plantoid,

Have sent you a PM

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Re: advise please

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