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Fri Aug 17, 2018, 10:14 PM

How big a garden does one need for frugal times?

A very big one if you expect it to provide all of your food needs for a whole year. And that's if one is an experienced gardener with a very fertile and well maintained garden. Something beyond the reach of the great majority of us I believe.

But I do think it possible to have a garden that might be able to supply one with enough food to get through a normal winter in the northern climes.

I've been doing some reading and back of the envelope calculations trying to come up with a list of fruits and vegetables that are relatively easy to store and how much is needed to feed one person for a period of 7 months. Below is what I came up with:

Potatoes

A single plant can produce between 5-10 potatoes each. If you have 1 1/2 servings of potato per day, which is a 1 1/2 medium sized spud or about 12 oz, then you'll need anywhere from 21 to 42 plants per person to cover 210 days. At a spacing of 1 plant per foot, you'll need a row anywhere from 21' to 42' long.

Cabbage

Making sauerkraut out of cabbage is almost fool proof and if kept in a cool basement, will last for months in just 5 gallon pails that are rated food safe. For enough sauerkraut to provide 1 cup a day for 210 days, you'll need about 36 3lb. or 22 5lb. cabbages. A total weight of 109lbs. A food safe 5 gallon pail can hold about 25lbs. of sauerkraut so you'll need 4 5 gallon pails and one smaller pail that will hold 10lbs. 36 3 lb. cabbage plants can fit in a 2' wide raised row that is 24' long if planted 2-1-2-1-2 and so on with 12" spacing between plants.

Carrots

I have yet to try this but some people just leave their fall crop of carrots in the the ground during the winter by heavily mulching them so the ground doesn't freeze and they dig up the carrots as needed. A serving is a carrot per day and for 210 carrots, you'll need 16 square feet if using the square foot gardening method. A 7" long by 1 1/2" diameter carrot weighs close to 3oz.

Apples

The Honeycrisp variety is known for its long storage life, up to 7 months, and one apple can weigh 1 to 1.5lbs.. A semi-dwarf apple tree can produce about 5 to 10 bushels and a bushel weighs about 47 lbs. If you eat one apple per day, you'll need about 5 bushels. For spacing one semi-dwarf apple tree need at least a 12' X 12' area

Butternut squash

Properly cured, this squash has a shelf life of up to 6-7 months. Each fruit weighs about 1lb. each and after removing the skin and seeds, you can get 1 1/2 cups of edible squash which weighs about 10oz. Each plant can produce about 3-4 fruits so for a single 5oz. serving per day or a 10oz. serving every other day, you'll need about 36 plants divided up amongst 12 hills. The hills should be spaced 4 to 5 feet apart with 5 to 7 feet between rows. This will take up to 420 square feet.

The above comes out to 44 ounces of food per day. The average person eats about 3-4lbs. per day. The space requirement for the above is 526 square feet and adding the 144 square feet needed for the apple tree, the total square footage is 670. And this is just to provide food for one person for 7 months. However, if you look at this as a supplement to what food you have stored, then this works well assuming you have the space for the garden and the means to store the produce.


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Response to Kaleva (Original post)

Fri Aug 17, 2018, 10:33 PM

1. Traditional Native American clusters of the 'three sisters' pack a lot of nutrition in a small space

That's Corn, surrounded by Squash, with Bean vines spiraling around it all.

The only problem I have with it is keeping the squirrels away (they must have gotten worse in WI since it was mostly Potawatomi around here...).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Sisters_(agriculture)

Sidenote:

I grew black beans and pinto beans in my garden 4 years ago. I still have some left.

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Response to htuttle (Reply #1)

Sat Aug 18, 2018, 06:06 AM

9. From what I gather, one will need about a 40' row of dried pole beans to produce 26lbs

26lbs of dried beans will provide one person a 1/2 cup of cooked beans per day for 210 days.

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Response to Kaleva (Original post)

Fri Aug 17, 2018, 10:53 PM

2. In the event of the zombie apocalypse

I will serve salsa and pickles. A lot of salsa and pickles.

We will have peaches for a week. Blueberries for a couple of weeks. Maybe an apple or two. Lovely flowers for the empty table. And tons and tons of empty mason jars.

Not exactly a well balanced harvest.

Iím probably exaggerating.

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Response to Kaleva (Original post)

Fri Aug 17, 2018, 11:03 PM

3. K&R

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Response to Kaleva (Original post)

Fri Aug 17, 2018, 11:10 PM

4. Tubers

Add parsnips and Jerusalem artichokes to your list.

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Response to RainCaster (Reply #4)

Sat Aug 18, 2018, 05:23 AM

8. Parsnips can be stored much like carrots

While Jerusalem Artichokes don't have the shelf life potatoes have, you could leave them in the ground and dig up as needed. At least till the ground freezes. A great thing about the sunchokes is that the small tubers can be put back or left in the ground for next years crop and a 5' X 5' raised bed, separate from the main garden as the plant can spread, can produce about 100 lbs.

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Response to Kaleva (Original post)

Sat Aug 18, 2018, 12:43 AM

5. We produce a lot in 4 small beds

If you plant spring crops, followed in a month with summer crops close together in the same bed, the spring crops are done as the summer crops begin to come on. We grow our vine crops on trellises and fences freeing up a lot of space. Herbs scattered here and there to fill in. Montecello is a wonderful study for terrace and small space gardening

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Response to Kaleva (Original post)

Sat Aug 18, 2018, 02:01 AM

6. Do you know about growing foods in hay bales?

No dirt required. Tomatoes do well and can be oven dried. Potatoes do well, too.

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Response to Kaleva (Original post)

Sat Aug 18, 2018, 02:11 AM

7. I'm filling my freezer space from the farmers market.

As things come to market, I do what my grandmother did. Berries of all kinds, cherries pitted for pies, peaches, rhubarb, tomatoes from my garden....all are gathering in my freezer. (Just a modest size freezer space at top of my fridge.) I've made a dozen quarts of refrigerator dill pickles, and have Gravenstein apples for making apple butter and pies soon. Will be getting lots more apples. The eating apple we like best is a variety called "Crimson Crisp" -- it is sooooo delicious and lasts very well in the fridge for many months. I also like "Spitzenberg" as a keeper. Good flavor. I had some last until March over the winter in the bottom drawer of the fridge.

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Response to Kaleva (Original post)

Sat Aug 18, 2018, 12:55 PM

10. OR you can do it in the space of a single outdoor swimming pool:

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Response to ret5hd (Reply #10)

Mon Aug 20, 2018, 08:07 PM

12. I find the Kratky method of hydroponics to be quite interesting and I might give it a try

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Response to Kaleva (Reply #12)

Mon Aug 20, 2018, 10:40 PM

14. Bookmarking to rewatch tomorrow

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Response to Kaleva (Original post)

Sat Aug 18, 2018, 07:33 PM

11. That sounds like some excellent research to start, Kaleva.

I'm looking forward to how your ideas develop.

Frugal is relative, of course. We're mostly retired on very limited income. Our means have so far allowed me to maintain an uncommitted approach to edible gardening, though, so deer and rabbits, also insect hoards, weird viruses, etc., have always gotten to most of the little I've planted. Three does are raising 4 fawns on and around our little hill this summer. Yesterday morning I found the cylinder of welded wire that protected the last surviving tomato plant of 3 put in shoved to the side and the tomatoes gone. So much for those.

We do have some fruiting plants that all thrive without any spraying or watering: a couple of mulberry trees, wild and cultivated scuppernong and grape vines, a couple of sour cherry trees and figs and several blueberry bushes. They also all get cleaned out by the birds and other critters, but if we got hungry we could eat the critters and the fruit. Raccoon braised with figs. Itm, the outside lights come on when they come to raid, and it's fun to watch.

What I do grow these days, in a raised, protected strip at the top of a retaining wall that they haven't found, are fresh cooking herbs and a mesclun-type salad greens mix that would just be too expensive if I had to buy them. (Others the rabbits don't eat, like thyme, rosemary, fennel, oregano and sage, are elsewhere.)

All are expensive at the market, of course, and short lasting, so this small area definitely pays its way, and it requires little water. I do need more space for salad greens. Tonight, though, we had red potato salad with fresh tarragon, chives and parsley, and some lemon thyme tossed in too just because. If I had to purchase them fresh, it'd have had to have been a mayo and pickle version.

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Response to Hortensis (Reply #11)

Mon Aug 20, 2018, 08:36 PM

13. I find this fascinating because it ties up many of my interests together.

I enjoy gardening as a hobby.

I enjoy learning new skills such as canning which I did for the first time a couple of years ago.

I enjoy working on home projects such as building shelves in the basement for storage or building a water less, composting toilet in the basement.

Being frugal, I want to stretch out the food budget and one way to do that that is to maximize the garden production.

And I'm kind of a prepper but only so far as what I do in a normal course of events allows me to be prepared for an emergency. I don't garden just to have an emergency food supply. I do that because I enjoy it.



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Response to Kaleva (Reply #13)

Mon Aug 20, 2018, 11:32 PM

15. The very best reason. My gardening was almost

entirely decorative, but for years I invested a lot of time and hard work in it and, like you, it was all really worth it.

You reminded me of the book "Five Acres and independence" and the back to the land movement of the 1970s. I never learned how that turned out for most who really tried a life of genuine subsistence farming (no internet then), but I imagine many who went that direction for love -- as a way of life, not subsistence -- are still happily at it.

Here in the semirural deep south, where we moved from urban Southern California, the words "garden," 'gardening, and "garden patch" are still assumed to refer to growing food.

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