Sowing the seeds for a new life in France

Teresa shows some of the crop from their garden

Becoming 100% self-sufficient is hard; it needs land, knowledge and commitment. In this, the first of a series on changing lifestyles, we take a gradual approach, looking first at getting your garden in line

Do not despair if you live in a flat with no outdoor space, you can become self-sufficient in herbs; given a balcony, you can grow tomatoes in pots; with a handkerchief garden, you can do more.

The first thing to consider when planning a vegetable garden is the soil. Is it heavy clay or thin dry sand? Or something in between? Alkaline or acid? Has it been fallow for years, treated with chemical products, or used for livestock?

Almost any kind of soil will benefit from extra organic matter. So as you clear the land, build a compost heap using the plant waste. You can also add animal dung to your compost, if you can get hold ...

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