Self-sufficiency

At the weekend, I picked nettles and got straight down to making nettle cordial. Now this evening I bottled it up, even though the recipe said to leave the mix to rest for a week. Basically, I thought the syrup tasted great as it was.

as it says on the tin……

Altogether the recipe made about a litre of cordial, so I am well pleased. And seeing how easy it was, I am encouraged to make more cordial in the future, particularly once the fruit I am growing starts to produce in great enough quantities.

Anyway, whilst playing around in the kitchen this evening, I started thinking about self-sufficiency. Not in a million years is that going to happen in my current situation. The garden is simply too small for all that I would want to grow. Yet I am already self-sufficient in garlic, having bought none for at least two years.

To add to the list of stuff I have not needed to buy is pumpkin – and I doubt it is even possible to buy blackberries. Then there are broad beans, and runner beans as well as chard, all of which I only eat if they have been grown by myself. This isn’t a policy decision, more because either I’ve not seen them to buy or there just hasn’t been the need.

Thus, it will be interesting to see what else is enough to keep us from the shops, as time goes by.

What about you – what are you self-sufficient in?

About Helen

I have always been interesting in living a more environmentally friendly lifestyle and used to do what I could. Now, I have come to realise that we have reached such a point in terms of environmental degradation that it is more important - perhaps - to focus on building resilience. I therefore do as much as I can to reuse, grow my own and encourage a supportive community, for example. I also keep reading and learning all the time.
This entry was posted in Gardening, Good for the environment, In the kitchen, Permaculture and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

29 Responses to Self-sufficiency

  1. I am self-sufficient in beef, chicken, venison, hare, rabbit, turkey, eggs, vegetables, herbs. I have to buy fruit and gas and a car and pay rent and electricity and phone and internet, etc etc… It’s amazing how there’s never enough money!

    • Helen says:

      That’s a fantastic range in self-sufficiency, Bruce.

      • Thanks. I think the secret often (apart from some freezing and preserves) is to eat seasonally. We don’t get snow where I am so it’s (nearly) always possible to find something.

        • Helen says:

          Yes, climate is a factor. We don’t really get snow here either – had a freak winter or two recently but generally it’s the first which puts a damper on things. For example, by day it’s about 18 degrees at the moment but by night some parts have still got down to zero. Of course, with modern storage methods it’s easier but then you generally need electricity and unless you can be sufficiently off-grid that needs to be paid for.

    • afarmingartist says:

      Well, we don’t buy eggs any more. There are five people in the house and I have 6 laying hens. I can my own tomato sauce, salsa, and strawberry jam- all from the garden. We eat fresh all summer. This year as I have said, I am adding potatoes, garlic and onions which I know I can store for the winter. I recently became interested in creating a root cellar. I am usually on a two year planning frame when it comes to trying new things. What is nettle cordial?

  2. afarmingartist says:

    Well, we don’t buy eggs any more. There are five people in the house and I have 6 laying hens. I can my own tomato sauce, salsa, and strawberry jam- all from the garden. We eat fresh all summer. This year as I have said, I am adding potatoes, garlic and onions which I know I can store for the winter. I recently became interested in creating a root cellar. I am usually on a two year planning frame when it comes to trying new things. What is nettle cordial?

    • Helen says:

      I like your list! And I’m impressed in view of the number of mouths to feed.

      Nettle cordial is a syrup which you dilute by adding water to make into a drink. So you could have black currant or orange cordial, for example. But I’ve used nettles instead for the flavour (and hopefully some goodness, though the drink is mostly sugar).

  3. Certainly in garlic, herbs, Egyptian walking onions and fruit when in season – oh and chillies and lettuces and beetroot … LOL

  4. Awesome update thank you for sharing Helen the only thing is wild onions in my front garden and hopeful the fruit trees which are all in blossom

  5. what does the nettle cordial taste like? Is it bitter?

    • Helen says:

      I’ve only tasted the undiluted syrup to see if it was ready but it wasn’t bitter at all, sweet like any cordial.

      I also made a soup which was like any leaf vegetable. Not strong but there was a taste, maybe a bit like lettuce.

      Anyway, I’d definitely recommend either πŸ™‚

  6. Cut flowers, sweetcorn, oregano and thyme is it so far. I’d like to expand that range though!!

  7. Just starting out on the journey but got quite a bit of veg in at the moment and picked up my chicks this weekend. Lots of idea;s but we’ll see how it ends up. By the way what is the recipe for the cordial, didn’t see a link anywhere in the post.

    • Helen says:

      Oh, the link was ‘it’ towards the end of the post. Anyway, it’s very simple: 200g of nettle leaves (young), a litre of water, a kilo of sugar and 40g of citric acid. First, you dissolve the sugar and citric acid in the water (some heat needed). Then you take that off the heat and add the nettles. Leave it for a few days in the pan then drain the liquid and bottle it. (It helps if you stir the mixture in the pan once a day.)

      Anyway, thanks for reading and good luck with your journey πŸ™‚

  8. tones of nettles around now. I run into them on my bike rides. So may just give this a go

  9. Marcella Rousseau says:

    I enjoyed your post. I think this trend of doing things yourself is picking up steam and I wonder where it will all end up? Anyway, this year I’ve planted Fava beans which you can’t find in the supermarket; peas, soy beans(edamame), swiss chard, broccoli rabe(rapini), San Marzano tomatoes, borage, lavender, and my usual stuff: thyme, sage, parsley, cilantro, marigolds and mint. (Some of these are perennials so I only had to prune them back. Oh! and I planted a blueberry bush last year in my veggie garden too! I had the usual rabbit interference but this year I put up a chicken wire fence that is working out very well. We’ve had a lot of intermittent rain and everything is growing very well. I also used Miracle Gro and I highly recommend it. I sprinkled Epsom salt too. I can’t wait to taste all of this! Broccoli rabe is $2.59 a bunch in the supermarket. That’s highway robbery! It used to be you couldn’t find it in the store. Then when it first came out, nobody would eat it (except us Italians.) Now, you have to sell your first born in order to enjoy it!
    Keep heading towards your goal of self-sufficiency. Have you written down your goal anywhere? Writing it down has almost magical effects.

    • Helen says:

      I don’t think I’ll ever be self-sufficient, Marcella, at least not with my few yards of space. However, it would be great if I had more than a handful of everything.

      Lots of people seem to be using Epsom salts these days – not sure where I can find them but they worth a try. Anyway, I hope they work for you.

      Sounds like you’ve got a lovely array of fruit and vegetables…. I once costed up growing my own purple sprouting broccoli (maybe that’s the same as broccoli rabe?) and my packet of seeds, which lasted three years, was less than a meal’s worth from the shop. And obviously mine was also a lot fresher as well!

      • Marcella Rousseau says:

        A pharmacy would carry Epsom salts and so does Wal-mart where I bought mine. There are other products that are better but the thing is people often have Epsom salts around the house because it is officially used for helping people soak in a tub because they have sore muscles. that is my understanding anyway. No, the purple sprouting broccoli isn’t the same but I think it’s in the same family. Broccoli rabe is a little bitter. Its florets are green like broccoli but they are much fewer. It is a much leafier plant. I use old seeds too. In fact, some of my old seeds wouldn’t sprout until I used the Miracle Gro. That stuff is unbelievable! It’s a well-named product!

        • Helen says:

          I’ll try the chemist’s then.

          I’ve not seen broccoli rabe but I guess it would grow in Europe okay. Maybe it will catch on here one day!

    • Helen says:

      P.S. I’m glad you enjoyed the post πŸ™‚

  10. malcomms says:

    What’s your recipe for nettle cordial, Helen?

    • Helen says:

      Thank you for your interest, Malcomm. The link in the post seems to have gone but if you look through the comments I’ve put the recipe in answer to a question by Hilton, I think.

I love to read about your own experiences and any other feedback you have, so look forward to your comments below.

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