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Tue Oct 23, 2018, 10:05 AM

Could we grow all the food we need in our yards?

https://www.treehugger.com/lawn-garden/could-we-grow-all-food-we-need-our-yards.html




Could we grow all the food we need in our yards?
A few months ago, I worked on a small farm for a weekend. I spent one full day digging up potatoes and picking squash. By the end, I had around five buckets full of food, all from just a few rows of plants that couldn't have spanned more than 20 yards.

"You can really grow a lot in a small space," I remarked to the farmer, hiding that I was one or two more potatoes away from collapsing from exhaustion. "You could probably feed a family for year just on this acre."

"You could feed a lot more people than that," she responded.

This is going to sound hopelessly naive to any farmers out there, but I grew up in an urban environment surrounded by miles of cornfields. I imagined that people needed huge swathes of land to grow enough to eat. And the data seemed to back me up. A few years ago, University of Wisconsin scientists found that humans use nearly half of the Earth's surface for agriculture.

But apparently, I'd missed something. We've written about how a family only needs a couple acres of farmland to grow food. One California family even says it grows 6,000 lb. of food a year on a tenth of an acre. That's enough to feed the family and sell $20,000 worth of extras.

Perhaps this used to be common knowledge. During World War II, the government encouraged people to grow their own vegetables, and these tiny "victory gardens" provided nearly half of the country's vegetables.

"At first the federal government was skeptical of supporting these efforts like they had before. Officials thought large-scale agriculture was more efficient," writes reads Smithsonian's digital archive.

The government was in for a surprise. "Reports estimate that by 1944, between 18-20 million families with victory gardens were providing 40 percent of the vegetables in America," the Smithsonian continued.

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Arrow 13 replies Author Time Post
Reply Could we grow all the food we need in our yards? (Original post)
NeoGreen Oct 2018 OP
niyad Oct 2018 #1
NRaleighLiberal Oct 2018 #2
Crutchez_CuiBono Oct 2018 #3
Autumn Oct 2018 #5
NRaleighLiberal Oct 2018 #6
NeoGreen Oct 2018 #11
NRaleighLiberal Oct 2018 #12
NeoGreen Oct 2018 #13
zipplewrath Oct 2018 #4
TreasonousBastard Oct 2018 #7
NRaleighLiberal Oct 2018 #8
dembotoz Oct 2018 #9
dameatball Oct 2018 #10

Response to NeoGreen (Original post)

Tue Oct 23, 2018, 10:06 AM

1. thank you for this very interesting article.

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Response to NeoGreen (Original post)

Tue Oct 23, 2018, 10:09 AM

2. we approach 2000 lbs using containers and straw bales in our driveway

tomatoes, peppers, eggplant...squash, cukes, beans, potatoes...lettuce, beets, greens.

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Response to NRaleighLiberal (Reply #2)

Tue Oct 23, 2018, 10:21 AM

3. +1

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Response to NRaleighLiberal (Reply #2)

Tue Oct 23, 2018, 10:26 AM

5. What grows well in straw bales? My husband bought me a green house from

Harbor Freight. I put in 2 tomato plants, 1 cherry tomato, 2 bell pepper, 4 jalapeno plants and 2 cuckes and 2 hanging strawberry. I gave away so much to my neighbors I was shocked. Next year I may try canning. I was thinking of putting straw bales around it next spring to grow other stuff.

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Response to Autumn (Reply #5)

Tue Oct 23, 2018, 11:07 AM

6. Everything!

I am off for a week vacation...will get back to you when I return. My 2nd book was on this topic.

I wrote this blog for Gardeners Supply earlier this year. https://www.gardeners.com/how-to/straw-bale-gardens/8882.html

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Response to NRaleighLiberal (Reply #6)

Wed Oct 24, 2018, 09:31 AM

11. Just straw bales or...

...will hay bales work too?

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Response to NeoGreen (Reply #11)

Wed Oct 24, 2018, 09:57 AM

12. Straw has more structural integrity...breaks down

More slowly. Hay bales, from grasses, lack the solid structure of wheat straw bales.

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Response to NRaleighLiberal (Reply #12)

Wed Oct 24, 2018, 10:09 AM

13. Ok...

...understood.

A bit more work to hunt down straw bales (they're elusive buggers ). Hay is everywhere.

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Response to NeoGreen (Original post)

Tue Oct 23, 2018, 10:24 AM

4. No

But one could grow an awful lot of it.

A good balanced diet would be a struggle, but you could grow alot of food and only have to supplement it with a small variety of items one didn't grow (or couldn't). There will be alot of canning and preserving going on though. I grew up on an acre with alot of fruit trees and a small garden. My mother did ALOT of canning for a good long time to stretch our food budget. She still went to the grocery store though. It did spoil me rotten though. To this day I have a hard time eating pears because they are never ripe enough. And don't get me started on apples.

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Response to NeoGreen (Original post)

Tue Oct 23, 2018, 11:10 AM

7. Many years ago in Flushing, Queens some guy was growing corn on his front yard...

and lots of us had stuff growing in the backyard.

Eventually, many ended up finding more interesting things to do with their time and supermarket distribution became increasingly efficient. Then came the rules on just how your front yard should look.

Homeowners and condo associations forbade edibles and decreed just how high your grass should be. Towns, in the interests of looking so clean and tidy, also decreed what goes on your lawn. I remember living in Clifton, NJ and some guy with a ruler came around to see if our grass was the legal height.

Some condos have community gardens, and my town has one downtown. You don't get a large plot, but you do get one big enough to grow some of your favorites. We do have a lot of small farms around here selling food and flowers, but they are usually more expensive than the stores, and not always better.

I do see a resurgence in interest in backyard gardening, but it can be hard labor and when I tried it, I found out that I was feeding deer, mice, gophers, bugs and raccoons instead of myself.

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Response to TreasonousBastard (Reply #7)

Tue Oct 23, 2018, 11:17 AM

8. many good points here - "foodscaping" vs HOAs -

neighborhoods where obsession with uniformity, house values and appearance collide with gardeners...the challenge of gardening well, and even more so, the impact of a changing climate on which things grow well (and less well) where - and the critter attacks.

It is definitely an individual decision - I've come upon such a wide array of gardeners over my many years of going around and giving workshops and lectures. What I always wish to see are more young people doing it. The future of our genetic plant heritage depends upon getting young people involved with plant preservation and see saving and sharing.

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Response to TreasonousBastard (Reply #7)

Tue Oct 23, 2018, 11:20 AM

9. our condo grounds committee is a militant lot

cant grow anything edible including herbs

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Response to NeoGreen (Original post)

Tue Oct 23, 2018, 11:26 AM

10. Yes, although some supplementation would be helpful.

Several years ago I built 22 raised beds. They were all 4' x 16'. Had all the produce we could eat, as well as sold every Saturday at a local farmer's market. The beds were supplemented by peaches, apples, cherries and blueberries. Also had two large asparagus beds that the previous owner had started. All told, this took up perhaps 1/2 - 3/4 of an acre at the most.
We also let local friends come over and pick fresh from the garden.


I think we could have survived on just what came from the garden, but the menu would need some supplementals for well rounded nutrition.

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