What Size Garden Will Feed 20 People?
Q. Given a southern Indiana location, how many square feet of garden would I need to feed ten adults and nine children?
A. The answer depends on what you want to feed them, whether you expect to feed them during the growing season, or during the entire year, and on what things your people like to eat. Also, will there be supplementation from other sources? I will give examples of what can be grown in 30'-long soil-beds.
A good database of commonly grown vegetables, with when, where, and how they can be grown, as well as how much they will produce, is contained on the Garden Wizard and Garden Master CD's. These are wonderful resources for the serious family gardener, and can be found at www.growfood.com under Software.
I recommend growing high-value everbearing crops, such as tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, cucumbers, pole beans, zucchini, etc., to maximize your yield in minimum space for the least cost and effort.
A 1/2-acre garden will hold 125 30'-long soil-beds.
Using vertical growing with the Mittleider Method, 12 beds of indeterminate tomatoes should produce 5,000-10,000# of tomatoes from July through October.
Four beds of sweet peppers should produce 1,000-2,000 peppers.
Four beds of eggplant - grown vertically - should produce 1,000-2,000 eggplant.
Four beds of cucumber - vertically - should produce 1,500-3,000 cucumbers.
Six beds of pole beans should produce 800-1,600# of beans.
Four beds of zucchini should produce 1,000-2,000# of zucchini.
So far we've only used 1/4 of the garden, and you have more than enough of those vegetables to feed the family during the growing season. Doubling the space of these 6 crops could provide income to buy other food staples, and/or provide sufficient to dry or bottle food for the winter months.
Growing easily stored food, such as potatoes, cabbage, beets, onions, and carrots can provide the family fresh food during the winter. Care must be taken to provide proper cold storage, and these can be usable for 6 months.
Four beds of carrots should produce 400-800# of carrots
Four beds of cabbage should produce 500-800# of cabbage.
Two beds of beets should produce 200-400# of beets.
Four beds of onions should produce 400-800# of onions.
Ten beds of potatoes should produce 1,000-2,000# of potatoes.
The carrots, cabbage and beet crops can often be doubled by growing an early and late crop in the same space, which these more valuable for the serious grower.
Crops like corn, large squash, and watermelon should only be grown if you have ample EXTRA space, because they take much space for the yield they produce. For example one bed of corn should produce about 90-100 ears of corn - all within about 2 weeks, whereas a bed of tomatoes should produce 400-800 POUNDS of tomatoes spaced over 4 months.
An important planning exercise will be for your family to decide what they want to eat, then calculate the amounts of each vegetable needed, and grow at least that much in your garden.
You should also give serious consideration to how you can dispose of your excess produce profitably. Production and consumption rarely coincide.
The Mittleider Gardening books and Manuals teach all you need to know about this subject, and can be purchased in the Store section, or as digital downloads.
A digital copy costs 30-40% less, and is available instantly! I HIGHLY recommend you look here http://www.hightechhomestead.com/Products.htm for the best gardening books available anywhere! Get one NOW and be gardening TODAY!!