When you really start to look at your backyard gardening as a homestead or self-sufficiency project you will inevitably stop yourself at one single question…how much do I plant to feed my family (or me)?
It is a question I’ve asked. Today it came up again on a forum I read. So I went back to look at some of the research and reading I did when I was preparing last year. I also found some new information I am going to share.
We are Square Foot Gardeners. Which simply means we adhere to the principals laid out in Mel Bartholomew’s book Square Foot Gardening. In Mel’s book he recommends planting 1 4×4 per person, per season. There are many other theories but since this is the one I’m most familiar with, I’ll share on that.
Our family started with 1 4×4 box and a few containers last summer. I took the SFG book’s recommendation to start small. I am very glad I did. I grew quite a bit in that little box and learned a lot. Over the last few seasons I have added 2 more boxes. My husband has built me a 12×4 box that I will be filling and planting over the fall and winter (those happen to be prime growing seasons in the desert).
So how do I decide what I am going to plant? I look at the vegetables we eat most – broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, Brussels sprouts, etc. Then I make a plant plan that has me planting about every 2 weeks. This staggers when veggies will be ready to harvest. I never plant box of just one or two veggies. I don’t want to be eating nothing but broccoli for 2 weeks. Blech.
If you’re going to be canning veggies you might consider planting a little extra so you have fresh veggies and harvest and some to can. This is my plan as I tackle my new canning project.
Leave room for error. In other words plant a little more for problems that may arise and shrink your haul. This is one of the reason I wanted the 12×4 bed – lots of room for trial and error. The worse thing that is going to happen is that I grow more than we need and I can share with friends and family.
You’ll be amazed what you can do with even the most limited space! Think of the Derveas family from The Urban Homestead to feed their entire family from their 1/10 acre lot and still have some left for sales. They don’t just garden either – they make space for chickens, goats and bees as well.
If you still feel unsure about planting I found a wonderful article today at The Well Fed Homestead with even more specifics based on the veggie per person.
Remember, don’t let your questions keep you for taking the plunge. Some things are learned ON the path, not before you take the first step.