Whether your aim is to reduce living costs, produce healthier food, or something more dramatic like quitting your job and relocating to acreage; this course is a great foundation for those scenarios and more
The concept of self sufficiency is all too often bandied around without people properly understanding what it all means. Consider the following statements:
In reality, we will never be totally independent for one reason: it is in our nature to be social, and we all need to interact with other humans in order to be psychologically fulfilled.
Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.
How To Convert to Organics
Going organic in your gardening and food isn't as difficult as you might think, if you know what you are doing; and you take a careful and well planned approach to changing your old ways. The eventual reward will be both a healthier environment and a healthier body.
Organic production means more than just avoiding chemical pesticides though. If you do it properly, organic gardening is a way of harnessing nature to work for you.
Organics is not necessarily an all or nothing method either!
You can go partly organic if that is your wish.
Why Do People Go Organic?
- Health – less toxins in the body (for people, wildlife and pets)
- Cost – you can grow more for the dollar … because you are recycling and harvesting benefits from nature
- Environment – a sustainable growing method
- Better food – many people prefer food grown without pesticides. It can taste better too!
How to do it Organically
- Use natural pest control methods
- Control weeds without chemicals (hand weed, cultivate, mulch, burn etc)
- Mulch (for temperature and moisture control)
- Use organic fertilisers
- Recycle – compost kitchen scraps and garden waste
- Choose plants varieties that are less susceptible to pests, disease etc
- Choose combinations of plants that work well together.
WHERE TO START
You don’t need to change the basic structure of the garden to make a start.
Take a systematic approach:
- Consider the plants/garden areas that frequently need fertilising, weeding, spraying etc.
- Identify and write a list plants that are problems – for example those that get lots of pests or diseases.
- Make a list garden of garden areas that are problems, like those that get lots of weeds or need frequent fertilising.
- Analyse your lists – and prioritise …you will end up with a list of problems that are normally either ignored or addressed in a non-organic way. You are now ready to deal with these, one by one, in an organic way.
IMPROVE YOUR SOIL
Healthy soil means healthy plants.
An important factor in the success of an organic garden is the condition of the soil. Healthy soil requires less fertiliser and less water. It’s easier to dig and easier to weed. The work you put into the soil will pay off by reducing the workload as the organic system develops.
Any soil can be improved through the addition of organic material:
- Manure – sheep, cow, horse, poultry
- Vermicast (earthworm castings)
- Mushroom compost
- Composted kitchen scraps
- Composted leaves, grass clippings and other garden waste
- Grow cover crops of legumes to build up soil nitrogen
Make your own. Site your compost heap in a location handy to the kitchen and use as much on-site material as possible – autumn leaves, grass clippings, kitchen scraps, even torn up newspaper.
Dig the compost into the soil to improve its fertility and structure, or spread it on the surface as an organic mulch that will naturally break down into the soil.
A lawn occupies a horizontal space. A more productive garden results when trees, shrubs and ground covers fill the vertical space in your design.
Grassy areas also consume a lot of chemical herbicides, pesticides and fertilisers. If your lawn receives more attention than the rest of your garden, you could consider removing it completely.
Pulling up established turf can create its own problems. But if you are thorough, it will reduce the work required later, when your turfed area becomes a beautiful garden.
When redesigning or creating garden beds, use the least amount of edging possible. A circular or curved garden will have fewer problems with weeds than a long, thin rectangular garden.
Selecting the right plant may be the most important factor in the success of any garden. Choose the right plants for your garden style and climate.
Many ornamental plants such as roses have been bred for their appearance and/or smell and are very prone to pests and disease.
Local native plants will grow well without excessive input from you. They prefer local conditions and will not suffer from pests and diseases as readily as non-local natives or exotics. They will also attract native birds that will further reduce pest problems.
Certain plants can be planted as companions, ie. different species are grown together to improve their vigor and to repel pests. Some examples of companion planting are:
- marigolds planted with tomatoes or roses to deter nematodes
- garlic planted under peaches to prevent leaf curl
NATURAL PEST CONTROL
Many pests can be controlled with natural methods. Here are some examples:
- Use physical protection such as cages and nets to keep pests from your plants.
- Slugs and snails can be trapped in saucers of beer
- Garlic spray or a blast of water from the hose will control aphids
- Remove the weeds from around plants where caterpillars can hide
- Lavender bushes will repel moths
- Insects, such as aphids are attracted to yellow. A piece of yellow card or plastic can be smeared with something sticky (eg. honey) and hung amont plants. Insects that land on it will become stuck there.
By spraying less you will encourage the beneficial animals and insects that control garden pests. Chemical sprays can often kill the good with the bad.
AFTER YOUR STUDIES
This course may be used by some to kick start a new way of living; more sustainably, with less need to buy in everything you use, and a greater control over the production and characteristics of the food, energy, and other consumables that might be used in day to day living.
You may be moving toward self sufficiency as a matter of necessity; or perhaps out of a sense of need to healthier and more wholesome in your approach to life.
Others may find this course lays a foundation for providing services to others; developing a business that has self sufficiency at it's heart.