A Year (and a bit) in the Self Sufficient Life

Okay, Mrs Dirty Boots here, Madam of this Self Sufficient homestead.  Yep, I know I have been missing in action from this site.  Rest assured I have been doing my bit though (just ran out of words to ramble about it all really!).  Any-hoo, it suddenly dawned on me (over a bowl of barely simmering lemon curd no less) that a whole year (and a bit) had gone by since we started writing here about all things Self Sufficientish and Frugal.

How time flies!  We’ve lived off various home-grown veggies, fruits and home-reared (killed) chickens.  Eaten vast quantities of homemade yogurt, fantastic jams, easy orange marmalade and chutneys.  We’ve even washed our hands in our own Olive Oil Soap.  We’ve also cheated.  I’ve yet to find a replacement for the car to get us the hour or so to town, and on occasion enjoy eating things we do not produce (donuts are a particularly favorite item, as too is Serrano ham until we get around to pig rearing at least).

But the reason for this post really was just to highlight how cyclical it all is.  You see I’m back to creating all manner of interesting things with citrus fruits.  The limoncello and lemon & ginger marmalade was done on the weekend, and next weekend it will be preserved lemons, lemon cordial, orange marmalade and oh I don’t know but it will definitely have zest in it.  Over a year has passed, and we are back with baskets of free citrus fruit to use.  We’re spreading compost again, forking over plots ready for new tomato plants to go in (and hoping this year does not see a Spain-wide attack on tomato crops).  We’re waiting for peppers and chilli seeds to germinate and wondering if we’ll get any weird new plants from the seeds we collected last year.

I suppose you could say it was a bit boring or repetitive, but in fact it is anything but.  Its reasurring to know the cycle is carrying on, but of course it changes all the time.  I now know I cannot stand any more orange pickle for example so shan’t be wasting my time making that.  I also know that an entire plot full of chilli plants is simply too many without a shop to sell them in, so am being restrained about my seedlings this year.  The challenges are different each year, who knew for example we would need to know how to protect lettuces from snow for example (if you want to know a good sturdy net above them creates a little igloo of lovely space for them to continue growing despite the blizzards outside)?

The kitchen and the garden are all starting over again.  Even the hens are going through a new phase, with two new additions settling in to up the egg quota to what it was before the last visit from a fox.  It is spring and the cycle of trying to provide for ourselves is once more getting into its stride.  Whilst winter may be a time for scavenging for fire-wood and trying to keep the garden alive, now is the time for picking wild asparagus and saving jars for new homemade kitchen creations.

Its a welcome time, and if the sun would come out too, this bit of the Self Sefficient Year would be pretty much perfect.

6 Responses to “A Year (and a bit) in the Self Sufficient Life”

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  1. Goo says:

    I’ve really enjoyed following your progress over the last year and am looking forward to many more posts.

    It is really hard not to over sow things, I am always gripped by the fear that if I only sow a few seeds none of them will germinate. Of course I sow loads and they all germinate and I have nowhere to put them. One thing I aim to get on top of this year is proper sucessive sowing. Any tips would be welcome!

    Because there are so many things out of your control in growing vegetables it is never, like you say, repetitive. Every year the triumphs and disasters are different. I’m hoping our cold snap will have diminished aphid populations, but no doubt there will be a new pest to contend with, different weather conditions and of course I’m still experimenting with what works well and what doesn’t.

  2. Hey Goo. Yep its always exciting to wonder what pest we’ll have to work against each year! I’m still loving the lack of slugs here in Spain – very different to our old Welsh gardens!

    As regards to successive sowing my only attempt at a system is that as soon as there is spare room, and at the beginning of every month, something must go in! That does mean things can get a little haphazard but it all makes for more intersting veg plots and dinner plates!

  3. Almostgotit says:

    Lovely, lovely, lovely. Not boring AT ALL. Just reading this makes me sigh, like reading a favorite book. How I want to grow lemons!

    Thanks for sharing.

  4. You’re so right – it’s cyclical, but different every time. A great balance, comforting but with new things to try! I think it’s partly because you learn so much with each year, and sometimes you (meaning me) have to take time to remember things (for instance, I can never remember how far apart to plant things), but there’s always something new and interesting to learn. It could be a new plant, a new method of sowing, a completely different approach to growing something. I just love it, and I feel like there’s still loads to look forward to, which is why I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of doing it.

    I’m probably not even on the self-sufficient scale, and to be honest, I don’t really want to be entirely self-sufficient. But I do want to do a LOT myself, and it’s such an ingrained part of my character now that I think it’s the way it’s always going to be, on some level or another – whether I’m just growing a few things in pots for myself, or going the whole hog. I just wish MORE people would give it a go, there’s so many benefits.

    • Lucy you are right about learning new things. This year we are trying to grow all our potatoes in old Dog food sacks. So far they look amazing. A million times better than they ever have in the ground. The water is retained better and they seem to be thriving. Plus, if we get a good yield we won’t lose half of them digging them up. We will just upend the sacks.

      New things keep it interesting for sure.