The below couple posts notwithstanding, I labor under no misconceptions about the ability to provide a significant portion of my family’s food via my own efforts gardening or otherwise.
Suffice it to say that I’m just making a tiny dent. For now. All the fresh tomatoes and figs, and herbs, and hot peppers, and later on the Japanese persimmons – those are delicacies I am truly happy to have. But I realize I’m not producing enough of any of them (well, maybe the hot peppers) to equal a year’s portion for the family. Let alone all the other fruits and vegetables we four would consume in a year.
Lets just say I am working toward something like such a goal. Which is why I’m expanding an automatic watering system out at the Polka Farm, for instance, although by the time we can actually move out there, the immediate size of our family may be down to two.
Really though, I gloss this over a lot, but it’s good to realize that if one really is intent on not having to rely on the so-called just-in-time expensive grocery store food, even if just for vegetables, one is in for considerable work.
Aside from the preparation of a very large garden plot (a task not at all to be scoffed at), one might need to grow the following amounts, according to various sources that sound reasonable to me:
→ Tomatoes (my favorite) – 8-20 plants (I grew seven this year, and while they were very productive plants, I am sure we will use up all the frozen sauces and tomatoes I was able to preserve long before a year has passed).
→ Potatoes (not my favorite from a waistline standpoint, but quite the sustaining vegetable) – 40-120 plants. That would eat up lots of garden space.
→ Sweet Potatoes (that’s more like it, better for you but pretty much just as sustaining) 20 plants. Actually, I would probably grow more of these and much fewer “regular” potatoes.
→ Summer Squash – 16 plants.
→ Peppers – 20-30 plants (I am growing 18 hot pepper plants alone, which indeed has provided a year’s worth of fresh heat plus hot sauces. But sweet pepper plants are far less productive.)
→ Peas – 100 plants or more.
→ Onions – 160-240 plants.
→ Spinach – 40-80 plants.
→ Lettuce – 40-48 plants.
→ Carrots – 40-160 plants.
→ Cabbage – 12-40 plants.
→ Green Beans – 40-80 plants.
And that’s just for starters. Add in various other family favorites, add in herbs. Then consider how much room this many plants requires. And then consider the time required to preserve those vegetables for winter use.
The result is that one family member would have to make gardening pretty much his or her full-time occupation, if the goal were actually to provide the year-round vegetable and fruit needs for the entire family.
So yeah, I realize that at this stage in the game my gardening efforts amount to hobbying, not farming. And yeah, I realize how much more work would be required to pull off what my forebears did a hundred years ago or so. But hey, I’m retired now, and I have more time than I used to for tilting at windmills.