Are you ever tempted to swap your daily grind for a simpler life, fewer responsibilities, and a rustic cabin in the woods? You’re not the only one. While that’s an extreme way to get back to basics, there are plenty of small changes that can help you achieve a less stressful, more self-sufficient lifestyle.
Whether you dream of getting completely off-grid, owning a few chickens, or growing your own hearty, organic food, here are some great blogs and social profiles to get you started.
Self-sufficient in Suburbia
Don’t let the landscape of suburban Britain stop you from being more self-sufficient. Through his YouTube channel and blog, Jonathan from Self-sufficient in Suburbiashows you how he’s embraced a slower pace while still living in the Tyneside commuter belt.
Looking to prolong your summertime harvest well into the winter? Jonathan suggests pickling, freezing and preserving your glut! Watch his fantastic video on how to dry your tomatoes in 4 hours without using a dehydrator. And if you’ve always wanted to keep a few animals, see Jonathan’s new milking shed for Mabel. Not only do they have delicious goat’s milk to enjoy, they’re making their own butter from the cream.
The Garden Smallholder
For Karen & Rich at The Garden Smallholder, the journey to self-sufficiency hasn’t just been about living off the vegetable plot. Their ‘tiny farm in a big garden’ is also home to a noisy brood of chickens, producing a welcome supply of fresh eggs. You don’t need a purpose-built coop to keep chickens. Karen and Rich explain that you can convert a shed provided you remember that “hens prefer a private, semi-dark area lined with lots of straw to lay their eggs.” See their post on housing chickens for lots of helpful tips.
And when it comes to self-sufficient gardening, this clever pair explain why they sometimes hand pollinate pumpkins & squash. If you want to save the seeds of an heirloom variety, (so you don’t have to keep buying more) you’ll need to hand pollinate and then seal the female flower shut with tape to prevent cross contamination from insects, “or the seeds collected from that pumpkin may not be pure or true to type.” A great step towards true self-sufficiency!
Do you have a glut of blackberries that need using up? Instead of turning them all into jam, check out the Cumbrian Homestead’s YouTube channel and watch Woody’s 3-part guide to making your own blackberry wine. It’s a great way to celebrate a bumper harvest!
Home brewing recipes are just some of the videos that green-fingered Woody enjoys sharing from his plot on the Furness Peninsula. He grows a huge amount of fresh produce on his allotment, and even has a micro-orchard to keep his family in all year round fruit. Want to make better use of your vertical space? Watch Woody’s excellent video on how to summer prune an espalier apple tree for some top tips.
What does self-sufficiency look like to you? According to Liz Zorab & Mr J from Byther Farm, it means “more self-reliance and food security, with the added benefits of improved health and resilience.”
If you’re looking for a blog that provides straightforward answers to all your burning questions, this is the place to start. Do you want to know just how much fruit and veg you would need to grow to feed two people for a whole year? Watch Liz’s excellent video guide to find out. And healthy plants require healthy soil, so making your own compost is a must. Liz’s tip is to “put a layer of open material, like twigs or straw at the base of your compost heap to allow excess water to drain away and worms to travel up from the ground.”
An English Homestead
DIY-savvy Kev from An English Homestead recently decided to build his own beehive, with hopes of introducing a colony to his smallholding this summer. Not only will it provide his family with fresh honey to eat, he’s hoping to use the wax for his woodwork projects and make mead as well!
Sharing his family’s journey towards a more self-sufficient life, Kev gets his kids involved as much as possible. Take a look at what happened when he and his son grew three different types of garlic and check out his latest snack success - dried gooseberries - a delicious addition to breakfast cereals and lunch boxes!
Life on Pig Row
Gardening high on the Saddleworth Hills guarantees fantastic views, but does come with its own challenges. With weather systems matching those of the Cairngorms, Andrew & Carol from Life On Pig Row say you ‘always have a plan B, C, D, E and right through to Z’, when it comes to dealing with snowy conditions.
Unique microsystems aside, Life On Pig Row was “born out of three years of recreating a ‘Dig For Victory’ garden on a 1/4 acre plot.” With excellent, back-to-basics advice on planting, pruning, harvesting and preserving combined with a make-do-and-mend attitude, this is a great blog for those looking to change their consumer lifestyle. Homegrown tomatoes are a great place to start. Having tried other methods, Andrew is a huge advocate of growing tomatoes using the string system in a greenhouse. And there’s nothing like making your own bread to help you appreciate the simple things in life. Watch Carol’s video tutorial for tips.
If the first step to becoming more self-sufficient is growing your own food, head over to @greggrowsuk’s Instagram account to see how Greg Holton feeds his family from a regular suburban garden.
With recent harvests including 2kg of lettuce and spinach, Greg shows that you don’t need a big patch to supplement your diet with organic veggies all year round. In fact, check out this post from last year’s picking & preserving evening, which shows exactly what you can achieve with a small 16m squared plot! His top tips? Grow perennial fruit bushes and “sow [vegetables] early in the year under fleeces to free up space for a second crop.”
Why buy costly fruit and veg when you can enjoy nipping outside to pick fresh produce as you need it? Jane at Shoestring Cottage will help you live your best life for less. She doesn’t have time to grow everything she’d like on a large scale, so she concentrates on more expensive food, like rhubarb, that she can grow at a fraction of the price.
Not sure how to deal with the inevitable courgette glut? Try Jane’s delicious recipe for courgette and tomato egg bake. And to make home-grown produce go even further, check out this shoestring meal plan for a no-shopping week. Clever, practical tips that are so simple to incorporate into busy, everyday life.
So what’s stopping you? It’s time to muck in! And if you’ve already started the journey toward self-sufficiency, give us a shout on our Facebook page. We always love to hear from you.