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Grow it yourself

Grow it yourself

Old Apr 6th 2020, 2:01 pm
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Default Grow it yourself

Does anyone here have any advise for growing fruit and veg and having a few animals. This is not a 'Good Life' self-sufficiency type thing as I couldn't do without some shop bought things, but in essence is it possible to get most of your fresh food this way? What sort of season is there in Umbria for this...would a poly-tunnel be a good idea? What sort of things grow well and what don't compared to the UK. Specifically I'm thinking Umbria or possibly Marche. As ever, many thanks!
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Old Apr 6th 2020, 4:22 pm
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Default Re: Grow it yourself

Everything grows, unfortunately the weeds best of all! You can have fruit and veg all year around, but growing conditions are very different to the UK. Water, water and more water, so you need water, except in winter…. Fruit trees will also need water and weed suppressant (thick cardboard with a few stones on will do) in the first 2-3 years. A poly-tunnel , well perhaps, but a friend had to rescue this greenhouse from an olive grove 50m away… You will find many Italians jar everything and some hardly ever buy fruit and veg, although I think it is becoming less common.
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Old Apr 6th 2020, 4:31 pm
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Default Re: Grow it yourself

Umbria and the Marche are perfect for vegetable gardening. You need a water supply for the summer months. A polytunnel is good for winter greens and early tomatoes. There are plenty of abandoned plots but reliable water supplies are not so easy to find. Tap water is too expensive and may not even be legal to use.
Are you thinking of the Marche now?
In the current crisis it is not legal to travel to an allotment in Umbria.

Last edited by philat98; Apr 6th 2020 at 4:42 pm.
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Old Apr 6th 2020, 5:47 pm
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Default Re: Grow it yourself

Thanks both! Geordieborn I know the feeling about weeds...pfftt! Although I am also on lockdown here in the Uk, I'm lucky enough to have a garden and a greenhouse, which I why, when out in the garden I started wondering about over in Italy. Philat98 I was thinking about water and have seen some properties that do allegedly have water in the grounds, if that's true. No I'm not necessarily giving up on Umbria but I have travelled into Marche and so am trying not to be too closed off to any possibility. I'm more than aware that my budget is limiting but as I like simple things (gardening being one of them) as well as canning (which I currently do anyway) I'm starting to wonder if living a more 'rural' type of existence might permit me the move and if Umbria proved too expensive then maybe I could look elsewhere. I am aware that heating is an issue however and so if in a more rural property what is the best type of heating to look for other than wood burners?

On a separate note: I have had some promising possible work which I could do from my home. I did read somewhere though that doing any freelance journalist type work I would need a license/qualification in Italy. Is that correct?
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Old Apr 6th 2020, 6:05 pm
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Default Re: Grow it yourself

I like the Marche. The land is more fertile than Umbria, not so steep and I suspect the summer rainfall is better. To heat a house with a woodburner from November to March you would have to cut quite a bit of wood every year.
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Old Apr 6th 2020, 8:42 pm
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Default Re: Grow it yourself

Sansa (olive waste), wood and then pellet in order of cost to heat, mixed with solar for DHW in summer.
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Old Apr 6th 2020, 8:52 pm
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Default Re: Grow it yourself

Originally Posted by Geordieborn View Post
Sansa (olive waste), wood and then pellet in order of cost to heat, mixed with solar for DHW in summer.
I didnt know you could burn sansa. Is it any good?
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Old Apr 6th 2020, 9:42 pm
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Default Re: Grow it yourself

We found it to be superb and very cheap, but we did also have a wood burner as back-up and the fact we love them. We bought wood at around €150/1200kg at 2-3 per year depending on how much of our own we had. Sansa at €250/1200kg we would buy 2-3 as we used it all year for water, very bad to do, but no solar. Interesting thing was the sansa with one burn could keep the water hot for 4 days in summer. Think the outlay for a new burner would be the drawback as they cost an awful lot. These days you can get them that burn sansa and/or pellets.
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Old Apr 7th 2020, 6:27 am
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Default Re: Grow it yourself

We find pulling weeds up by hand and then sprinkling roots with salt works well.We feed a few local cats and nearly killed one last year with weedkiller.Puts our mind at ease and it works.
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Old Apr 7th 2020, 9:18 am
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Default Re: Grow it yourself

Originally Posted by brian12 View Post
We find pulling weeds up by hand and then sprinkling roots with salt works well.We feed a few local cats and nearly killed one last year with weedkiller.Puts our mind at ease and it works.
I use weedkiller too but not out of choice as I would rather not use it but I spend more time in England than I do in Italy so don't have the option. How did the weedkiller affect your cat out of interest..? Did you spray it directly or did the cat eat something which was contaminated. There are always cats in my Italian garden but so far I've had no weedkiller associated problems that I'm aware of.

Yes, everything will grow in Italy, and as mentioned above, the weeds most of all. My biggest gardening mistake when I first got my place out there was not attending to the weeds with the necessary level of awareness required and in no time at all found myself with an almost impenetrable 2 acre jungle of 6 ft high thorny, spiky horrors. I now spend large amounts of time on every trip fastidiously dealing with them with the strimmer and provided I can be there for at least a month in both spring and autumn can keep them reasoably well managed. I still have to apply weedkiller at least once a year though.

Hens are always a good bet for a regular supply of eggs but you'll be more or less guaranteed rats to go with them so you'll need to be prepared to deal with them too. I just got meself 4 lovely little hens here in the UK because for 3 weeks I haven't been able to find a single egg in the supermarkets, but almost straight away I'm getting the unwanted night time visitors burrowing under the fence to get in to the hen run for any leftover seed on the ground. Traps aren't working so far and as far as I can see my cats are being a bit blase about it, but I'm persevering.

I've always wanted a goat too. If I ever go to live in Italy I'll probably get one.

Here are a couple of pics. Same patch of land with the pics taken at opposite ends of the plot... first one is with the weeds, and the second one is a few weeks after treatment with weedkiller. It's well worth it.






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Old Apr 7th 2020, 12:32 pm
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Default Re: Grow it yourself

Thats a powerful weedkiller. I just use a strimmer. Do you harvest your olives Jake?
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Old Apr 7th 2020, 1:28 pm
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Default Re: Grow it yourself

Hi,she ate some grass that we sprayed.She hid under our barbeque for a few days not eating.She recovered ok.Our Russian neighbours give it to us in a dilutable powder,I think it was industrial strength Roundup.I think they said they got it from a place called Chernobyl,lol.
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Old Apr 7th 2020, 1:42 pm
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Default Re: Grow it yourself

Originally Posted by philat98 View Post
Thats a powerful weedkiller. I just use a strimmer. Do you harvest your olives Jake?
Ah, I should perhaps have mentioned that I had to clear the whole lot first before doing the weedkilling.. The first pic was taken in early August when they were all sitting there dead and horribly spiky. After clearing them to ground level with the strimmer I applied weedkiller as soon as they started growing again at the beginning of September and that dealt with them quickly. They do still come back every spring though...

The lower pic was taken towards the end of October, so I guess the 'few weeks' I mentioned was more like 10-12 weeks between the two pics and involved a good bit of hard graft with strimmer and rake in between..as well as some lovely garden fires too..

No I don't harvest them as I'm never there at the right time. My neighbour was doing it for me but he sold up and moved away last year so I'm swithering about either trying to be there at the right time to do it myself or trying to find someone I can trust to do it for me.. Trouble is, if I go over so late in the season to do it myself I'll miss my almonds and walnuts, and I sometimes manage to get some delicious plums from my tree too if I'm early enough, but that means going at the end of August which is still blistering hot in Puglia. Way too hot for me in my old age.. It's a dilemma.....

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Old Apr 7th 2020, 1:48 pm
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Default Re: Grow it yourself

Originally Posted by brian12 View Post
Hi,she ate some grass that we sprayed.She hid under our barbeque for a few days not eating.She recovered ok.Our Russian neighbours give it to us in a dilutable powder,I think it was industrial strength Roundup.I think they said they got it from a place called Chernobyl,lol.

The stuff I use is pretty strong too. I get it in concentrated liquid form from the local Agri supplier in a 20 ltr container. When I first used the stuff I didn't have a clue and was using a dilution ratio of 1:2 which is utterly ludicrous and would probably knock an elephant over, but I soon learned and now use a ratio of 1:40. It takes a wee bit longer to work at the lower dilution but still does the trick.

Last edited by Jake.White; Apr 7th 2020 at 1:53 pm.
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Old Apr 7th 2020, 2:26 pm
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Default Re: Grow it yourself

Originally Posted by Jake.White View Post
The stuff I use is pretty strong too. I get it in concentrated liquid form from the local Agri supplier in a 20 ltr container. When I first used the stuff I didn't have a clue and was using a dilution ratio of 1:2 which is utterly ludicrous and would probably knock an elephant over, but I soon learned and now use a ratio of 1:40. It takes a wee bit longer to work at the lower dilution but still does the trick.
Ours is just the communal lawn outside our complex of 6 houses.We potter around pulling weeds up every few days.We're the only ones living here on a regular basis,keeps us busy especially now.We brought a handful of cherry tomato seeds over last year,the ones that are different colours.They were quite successful,doing the same this year. Coriander grows well here,love it with our curries,cheers,Brian.
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