Grow your own
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Date: 3 January, 2012
Suzanne Elvidge finds out how easy it is to save money by growing your own food
'You would need about 297 square metres to grow enough wheat for a year’s worth of bread for a family.'
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I’m not sure who out there is old enough to remember, but in the 1970s, the BBC ran a sitcom called The Good Life.
Tom and Barbara Good drop out of the rat race on Tom’s 40th birthday and try to become self-sufficient in suburbia.
This may have been inspired by John Seymour, author of The Complete Book of Self Sufficiency, first published in 1976 (or try the updated version, from 2009). However, can you really be self-sufficient in your back garden?
You’ll need a bit more than a standard suburban plot to produce all your own food.
It’s possible to be fairly self-sufficient on around two acres, but it does involve some changes in diet – bread and pasta may be out, because you would need about 297 square metres to grow enough wheat for a year’s worth of bread for a family.
There’s a BCTV mobile app (available free on iTunes) that will help you calculate how much you can grow – from a balcony upwards.
Growing your own fruit and vegetables, and perhaps keeping a few chickens and bees, is a step towards self-reliance, and while it’s unlikely that most people have enough land to be fully self-sufficient, even just growing some food cuts down on your food miles and reduces packaging.
As well as being eco, growing your own food protects you from food price inflation and improves your own personal food security.
If you don’t have much space, you can increase the amount you grow by using intensive beds or square foot gardening.
Don’t have a garden? Try growing indoors. It’s amazing how much you can grow on a windowsill (you could even keep chickens on the roof).
Alternatively, see if you can ‘borrow’ a bit of land through Landshare.
Get out there and get digging – and don’t forget to watch The Good Life on DVD for inspiration!
Suzanne Elvidge is a freelance writer and Surefish Ethical Living Editor