Create a self-sufficient garden

Create a self-sufficient garden

the essentials in brief

  • In order to be able to supply yourself almost completely with fruit and vegetables, the garden should be at least 100 square meters - for each person who eats. There is also space for fruit trees and bushes.
  • A kitchen garden needs a full sun and loose, humus-rich soil. The humus content can be increased with compost, rotting manure and green manure.
  • Good planning is essential throughout the garden year: moving the plants forward, sowing and planting, mixed and subsequent crops, harvesting and producing supplies, collecting the seeds for the next year, gardening and tree care, etc.
  • Always grow more vegetables and fruits than you consume - after all, being self-sufficient you have to stock up for the winter.

Planning a self-sufficient garden

Before you run into the garden and plant flower beds there, sit down at the kitchen table with a piece of paper and a pen. Good planning is essential for a self-sufficient garden so that you actually grow and harvest the desired fruit and vegetables in the correct (i.e. required) quantity. In addition, there should be no idle times in which beds remain empty - if they could still be planted instead. In addition to the quantity, a planting plan is also important, in which you determine sensible mixed and subsequent crops and thus ensure optimal use of the area.

also read

  • Plan and create a vegetable garden
  • Creating a garden on the balcony - clever tips for beginners
  • Create a hillbed in the permaculture garden

How big should the garden area be for self-catering?


The most important question at the beginning is: How big does the garden area have to be so that you and your family can feed with it? There are different answers to this, depending on what exactly you are aiming at and how much time you have.

Degree of self-sufficiencySize of the garden area
almost entirely from their own gardenat least 100 square meters per person, plus space for fruit trees and bushes
mostly from their own gardenapprox. 75 square meters per person, plus space for fruit trees
partly from their own gardenapprox. 50 square meters per person, plus space for fruit trees
only certain types of vegetables and fruitsas much space as is required for the cultivation of the desired types of vegetables and fruits (can also be just the balcony ...)

So if you do not want to buy additional fruit and vegetables, or only very little, the garden should be 400 square meters for a family of four - plus the cultivation area for fruit trees and bushes. While the bushes can also be planted along fences, trees need a lot of space.

A large apple tree alone needs an area of ​​around 50 square meters - half-trunk or columnar shapes less, of course. An apple half-trunk needs about 25 to 30 square meters. Sweet cherries and walnut trees, on the other hand, are real space robbers, as both species can become very large and wide and require a corresponding amount of space. The following table gives you an overview of the space requirements of the various types of fruit:

Type of fruitRequired space in square meters
Apple, high stem50 to 60
Apple, half trunk25 to 40
Pear, high stem50
Pear, half-stem20 to 40
blackberry6 to 10 (depending on the habit)
hazelnut20 to 50 (depending on the variety and habit)
raspberry6 to 10 (depending on the habit)
currant6 to 10 (depending on the habit)
plum40 to 50
peach30 to 50
quince50 to 60
sour cherry40 to 50
Gooseberry6 to 10 (depending on the habit)
sweet cherry80 to 100
walnut80 to 100

The space information might seem exaggerated at first glance, but it is actually rather tight. Remember that a fruit tree can get very tall and, above all, wide with age - then space is necessary. Also think carefully about whether you want to plant tall or low-stemmed trees, both have their advantages and disadvantages. While trees with a low trunk are easier to harvest and cut, tall trees are generally healthier and more durable - even if you then need a ladder for the apple harvest. If you plan to mow the meadow under the fruit trees regularly, tall varieties are recommended - otherwise mowing, especially with a ride-on lawn mower, will be difficult.

Which vegetables are particularly productive?


Which fruits and vegetables you grow in your garden depends primarily on your taste and that of your family, of course. As a self-sufficient supplier, however, you should make sure that you also cultivate suitable varieties in sufficient quantities for canning, drying and storage. So that you can determine your needs, first write down for a few weeks what quantities of fruit and vegetables you buy in the supermarket every day - and then plan the area for cultivation. Do not forget the winter months, because the fruits you need then have to be planted or harvested in summer.

It is also important to know that there are early, medium and late ripening types of most vegetables and fruits. The early varieties usually do not have a long shelf life and have to be consumed or processed quickly. Many late-ripening vegetables and fruits, on the other hand, can be stored well; these should be kept in a cool and dark place after the harvest - for example in a storage cellar or rent. Particularly important in the self-sufficient garden are high-yielding varieties that give you plenty of harvest.

Under no circumstances should be missing:

  • Fruit vegetables like zucchini, pumpkin, and cucumber
  • Tomatoes, peppers and chilli - especially in the greenhouse!
  • Root vegetables such as carrots, parsnips, horseradish, beetroot
  • different types of cabbage (white and red cabbage, savoy cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, kale, etc.)
  • Salads (lettuce, cut lettuce, Asian salads, lettuce, winter salads such as lamb's lettuce, etc.)
  • Legumes such as beans (French beans, runner beans) and peas (sugar and split peas)
  • Onions and garlic
  • Potatoes
  • if necessary corn and other specialties such as physalis, Jerusalem artichoke, tomatillo (depending on taste and personal preferences)

Important for self-sufficiency: aromatic and medicinal herbs from your own garden


Fresh herbs for seasoning in the kitchen and for healing purposes are also indispensable for self-caterers - for example, when it scratches the throat and a sage tea is supposed to help. You can grow these in an extra herb bed - the individual species are nicely sorted according to your preferences in terms of location and soil - or in a mixed culture in the vegetable bed. Some herbs are also very suitable as border borders, as their strong scent keeps pests away. Varieties such as lavender, sage and basil are particularly suitable for this purpose.


How much time do you have to plan for gardening?

What you shouldn't forget when planning a self-sufficient garden: Such a garden is a lot of work, all year round! On average, you should plan around half an hour to an hour of work per day for a garden of around 500 square meters, although the time required of course also depends on what is currently to be done. For everyday tasks such as watering, hoeing and pulling weeds, you can do quite well with this information.

However, when it comes to work such as creating beds, planting and sowing, harvesting and preserving, then you will be busy whole days. Even in winter there are still activities left to do, for example because you are busy pulling the plants for the new season, cutting the fruit trees, etc. from January. So it is important to work continuously in the garden.

Create a self-sufficient garden

Now that you have determined the required garden area and the vegetables to be grown, you can now get to work. But before that, a tip: If you are new to gardening, you shouldn't start with a large area - even if it is tempting. Start small, maybe with just one bed at first. As you gain experience and gradually enlarge your garden year after year, the chances are you will actually stick with it. However, if you start with a huge area first (possibly with little experience in the garden), the frustration is quickly there and with it the danger of ending the project over it.

The optimal location and the right garden soil

In order for the plants in your kitchen garden to grow busily and also taste good, they need sun - and as much of it as possible. Optimal growth is guaranteed if

  • the beds are as sunny and protected as possible
  • the location is airy, but sheltered from the wind and warm
  • the soil is loose and well-drained
  • but can still store water (clay content!)
  • and has a high humus content

Of course, not everyone has such a garden soil. You can, however, improve the special conditions you have by adding ripe compost and sowing green manure in autumn - primarily legumes, as these increase the nitrogen content in the soil. These measures are also necessary in order to preserve areas that are used intensively for horticultural purposes. These forms of natural fertilization improve the life of the soil and thus increase the amount of humus in the soil.

Create beds and paths

Now you can create the beds and paths. It is best to make a plan for this by transferring the existing area true to scale onto a piece of paper and then drawing in the corresponding areas. The illustration shows you a suitable example of such planning:

Self-sufficiency: sensible bedding


  • vegetable patches are no wider than 1.30 meters
  • this makes them easier to work on because you can easily reach all places
  • are they rectangular or square
  • this also serves to make processing easier
  • There are paths between them that are trampled and paved with bark mulch etc.
  • small paths should be at least 60 centimeters wide
  • Main paths at least one meter (so that you can get anywhere easily with the wheelbarrow)

In addition, you must not forget the greenhouse and the tool shed. Both should be as close as possible to the house, but not too far away from the kitchen garden and should be easy to reach with wide paths. Make sure that none of the buildings cast a shadow over the vegetable patch. The fruit trees should be furthest away - ideally on a meadow with orchards, which is also good for a large number of useful insects and birds.

A must in any self-sufficient garden: the compost heap


The compost heap should not be missing either, because on the one hand there is a lot of garden and kitchen waste that should be disposed of as naturally as possible and on the other hand you gain valuable ecological fertilizer for your garden. It makes sense not to just throw the waste in a heap, but to plan the composting sensibly:

  • Choose a partially shaded location, preferably something covered by bushes and trees.
  • This should be as close as possible to the house and the beds.
  • So you don't have a long way from the kitchen or the flower beds.
  • Use several composters that you can build yourself from wood, for example.
  • In this way you can obtain different types of compost.
  • Euro pallets are very suitable for this purpose.
  • However, the soil should remain open so that the soil organisms that are important for humus formation can get into the compost.

It is also important that the compost heap is easy to reach through a wide, well-paved path - and that you have enough space there to handle the shovel and wheelbarrow.


Which garden tools do you need in a self-sufficient garden?

The market for garden tools is huge, so it's no wonder that newbies like to lose track of things. Above all, these tools are absolutely necessary: ​​spade, digging fork, shovel, rake (s), rake, hoe (s), weeding cutter, garden shears and pruning shears in various sizes, ax or hatchet, watering cans, buckets (plastic or enamel if possible), Wheelbarrow (s) and a lawnmower (if there is a lawn) or a scythe (if there is a meadow). Last but not least, a ladder should not be missing. If there are tall fruit trees, a fruit picker is also very practical, which saves you from constantly climbing up and down the ladder.

The self-sufficient garden throughout the year

By the way, the first plants that you should plant in your self-sufficient garden are fruit trees and bushes. This should be done as soon as possible. It will take these trees a few years after planting for them to flower for the first time and for you to be able to harvest. This section shows you how to continue planning through the gardening year.

Mixed culture prevents diseases and pests


In the self-sufficient garden, a well thought-out mixed culture is recommended in the beds. This means that you do not plant each bed with just one type of vegetable, but combine plants that harmonize particularly well with each other. These fuel each other's growth and keep pests and pathogens away from each other. In addition, such a mixed culture offers the advantage that plant-specific diseases do not spread - unlike in monocultures, in which the entire harvest is at risk. But be careful: Not all plant species get along with each other, which is why you have to plan such a planting carefully.

Smart crop rotation for high yields and a long growing season

Some vegetables have a very long cultivation time, others ripen faster and are therefore harvested faster. Here, too, clever planning ensures that vegetables that ripen faster after the harvest do not remain empty, but continue to be used. It is therefore a good idea to start in the spring with fast-growing varieties - such as radishes, spinach, salads, etc. - and to plant somewhat slower plants in the bed after they have been harvested (especially those that are only outside from mid to late May anyway like zucchini and other cucurbits) and finally to end the year with fast-growing vegetables or late-sown winter varieties (beetroot and other root vegetables, late varieties of cabbage, etc.). But here, too, the following applies: not all types of vegetables harmonize with one another.

First aid against pests and plant diseases: healing from nature

"No chemistry belongs in the self-sufficient garden - everything you need comes from nature without any side effects!"

The self-sufficient garden is primarily about independence. This of course also extends to fertilization, pest control and plant protection. You do not need any supposed chemical miracle cures for this, but can rely entirely on the forces of nature:

  • Compost, manure and autumn green seeds as ecological fertilizers
  • Natural garden in which all kinds of useful animals feel comfortable
  • many insects, birds, hedgehogs, shrews, lizards, frogs and toads help diligently with pest control
  • Self-made plant manure from nettle, tansy, field horsetail, etc. can be used very well against plant diseases
  • Garlic and onions - for example as extracts - also help against diseases and pests

You should also think about when and where to put which plants - well thought-out mixed and subsequent crops also help to keep the garden plants healthy and prevent pests to attack at all. A balanced fertilization and irrigation do the rest.

Gaining seeds and growing young plants


In the garden, the new growing season begins very early, because the first vegetable plants must be brought forward in January, but no later than February and March. Many fruit vegetables, which due to their sensitivity are only allowed to be planted in May, or varieties that have a long germination phase, should be sown early. There are different options for this, depending on the type of vegetable and the time of sowing:

  • in the greenhouse / on the windowsill in the house
  • in the cold frame / under glass
  • in the bed under foil

The best way to find out when you can sow which vegetables is in the seed bags of the selected varieties. After all, over time you will also know when the seeds you have collected yourself come into the bed. By the way: Not all vegetables are suitable for serving, some should be placed in the bed straight away. This includes many root vegetables such as carrots and radishes, but also fast-growing, insensitive vegetables such as spinach.


If you sow or prefer vegetables, you do not plant all the seeds at once. Instead, sow the planned carrots / radishes / kohlrabi etc. a little later so that not all vegetables are ready for harvest at the same time.

Harvesting and Preserving

If you want to be self-sufficient, you have to build supplies. This is why you should always grow enough fruits and vegetables to ensure that you have sufficient quantities for the winter

  • Preserve : vegetables and fruits that cannot be stored for too long
  • drying : herbs, dried fruit and dried vegetables
  • Freeze : suitable for almost all vegetables, herbs and fruits, but very energy-consuming
  • or store : many late vegetables and fruits such as potatoes, carrots, stored apples, pumpkins

can. Please note that there is a lot of space needed to store food properly. A cool, dark and dry cellar is best for this. Some vegetables can also be stored in burrows, especially potatoes, cabbage and root vegetables. It is best to pay attention to the appropriate shelf life when choosing the variety - by no means all potato or apple varieties can be stored for a long time.

The self-sufficient garden in winter

This informative article shows what great tips self-sufficient Rigotti has for a harvest in winter.


frequently asked Questions

What do self-caterers actually eat in winter?

Quite simply: what can still be harvested in the garden or the supplies made during the summer. In this respect, it is important to plan well and grow enough vegetables and fruits that you can still boil down and freeze them. Many vegetables such as parsnips, Brussels sprouts etc. can still be harvested fresh in the winter months - provided it is not too cold and you have planted / sown them in good time. Good planning is everything in the self-catering garden! And what is still missing or does not grow in your own garden can still be bought in the supermarket.

Can I actually supply myself with vegetables from my balcony?

Of course, almost any vegetable can also be grown on the balcony, so that with good planning and care you can reap a rich harvest here too. In addition to the obligatory tomatoes and cucumbers, peppers, physalis, salads, radishes, sugar peas (low varieties!) And French beans are particularly suitable for a balcony cultivation. Zucchini also grow well here, provided the plant pot is large enough and you water them vigorously several times a day if necessary. However, there is not enough space for complete self-sufficiency.

What do I do when the weather is bad and the harvest threatens to fail?

Here, too, good planning helps to prevent crop failures due to a possibly rainy summer. Some types of vegetables should be grown in the greenhouse from the outset or, if grown outdoors, they should be protected by a roof, for example. These include, for example, tomatoes, which tend to perish outdoors due to late blight and brown rot. But cucumbers and peppers also feel more comfortable in the greenhouse. For the outdoors, less sensitive plants such as the various types of cabbage are recommended.

However, failures due to bad weather cannot be completely avoided. Heavy rain and hail can still destroy entire harvests. However, even after such an event, you still have the opportunity to harvest by planting or sowing (fast-growing) vegetables.

Help, snails eat my vegetables - what helps?

Gluttonous snails are the worst enemy of every gardener, as they devour the whole garden in no time. However, no slug pellets help against this (16.78 € at Amazon *) but more sensible, non-toxic measures such as a snail fence around the beds, coarse mulch material on the beds and the targeted settlement and promotion of snail-eating animals such as birds, hedgehogs, shrews and tiger beaks. They keep the number of slugs continuously small, so that there is still enough lettuce and Co. left for the harvest.


If you want to harvest potatoes in June, you should choose early varieties and develop them from February, but no later than March.