How big a garden does one need?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by atlantajack, Jun 14, 2004.

  1. atlantajack

    atlantajack Guest

    Sorry for the potentially stupid question, but the latest issue has an article by a guy giving tips for newbies and talking about the first 3 years on the new homestead (sorry but I don't have the magazine with me at work!).
    Early on he states that to provide for your yearly food needs, you would need 100 sq feet of garden per person. I can't see a 10 by 10 garden providing me with all my veggies for a year! Anybody have a different figure?
    Thanks in advance,
    Jack
     
  2. Tracy Rimmer

    Tracy Rimmer CF, Classroom & Books Mod Supporter

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    Jack -- I believe that that must refer to a persons' FRESH veggie needs through the growing season.

    A good book about the area needs to grow a complete diet for a single person is a book called "One Circle" -- it's available through Bountiful Gardens:

    www.bountifulgardens.org

    Here is the rundown from that site on it:

    One Circle,
    How to Grow a Complete Diet
    in Less Than 1000 Square Feet
    Dave Duhon & Cindy Gebhard 1984, 200 pages,
    Perfectbound paperback $16.95
    Spiralbound paperback - holds up better to heavy use. $18.95

    Using the techniques described in How To Grow More Vegetables..., this book will help you explore your nutritional needs and then design and produce a complete vegetarian diet in as little as 700 square feet. Loaded with charts, annotated bibliographies, step-by-step instructions, and even cut-out slide rules for the calculations. You're invited to participate in this bold, new cutting-edge of Biointensive development and research. You will need to read How To Grow ... first.


    This book is geared more towards fighting famine, but I've found it very useful for planning purposes. Unfortunately, we can't grow peanuts or hazelnuts where I live!

    All of the books through this site (most by John Jeavons) are amazing. I have ordered several, and all have met my expectations.

    Tracy
     

  3. fin29

    fin29 Well-Known Member

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    A 20x20 patch would easily feed a family of four for a year, provided it's well planned-out and responsibly maintained year to year.
     
  4. Zuiko

    Zuiko Well-Known Member

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    Buy the seeds you want, figure how much coverage is in each packet, allow extra room, plant the seeds (next spring probably, you could try now but its getting late, depending on where you are) then go from there. I made a 15 x 25 approximatly for just 2 o us, any extra goes to the animals. It depends on what you want to grow, how much you use, how lucky you are with weather, etc. Getting the first part tilled is the hard part, next year that part will be easier, and you can expand, if neccessary, a little at a time. Good Luck
     
  5. Terri

    Terri Singletree & Weight Loss & Permaculture Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    How much land you need depends on where you live, and what kinds of veggies you like.

    For instance, where I grew up in California, there was a 10 month growing season. My parents figured on 1 tomato plant for every 3 people. That provided us with both fresh tomatos 3 times a week and and canned tomatos once a week. There were no cucumber beetles to kill the cukes and squashes, so just 1 or 2 of each plant would suffice.

    Where I live in the Midwest, we have a 5 month growing season. I planted 12 plants for 5 people, and I MIGHT be able to can some, *IF* the harvest is good.
    A cucomber or squash plant will only bear for a few weeks before it dies, also. You can kill the cucumber beetles, but the virus that they spread will kill the plant anyways. People who really like to raise their own cukes start seds every few weeks.

    Also, we love sweet corn and watermelons, and both are space hogs.

    So, in California a 30' by 30' garden provided a family of 8 about half of the veggies year-round, while here in Kansas a 30' by 50' garden provides a family of 5 about 1/5 of their year-round veggies.

    I think that the best way to figure things out is to sit down and figure out what veggies you buy every week, multiply that by 52 weeks per year, and then figure out how many feet of rows you need to plant if the yields are average for your area.

    The extension agent can let you know the average yield per foot of garden row.

    It isn't perfect, of course, as some years you will have a bumper crop, and other years your favorite veggie may fail. Perhaps you only like your sweet corn fresh, so you may not want to put any up. But, it is a good starting point.
     
  6. Cyngbaeld

    Cyngbaeld In Remembrance Supporter

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    A lot depends on what you and family will eat as opposed to what you can grow. You need to keep that in mind. Try keeping a journal of what you and the family actually eat over a period of time. Include eating out and junk food. You can't really go by 'averages'. Some people eat no vegies at all, some eat no junk food. We eat lots of fruit, at least as much as the amount of vegies we eat unless you count potatoes. So for us fruit trees and vines are of major importance in our planning.

    You can also get a lot of nutrition out of barley grass, wheat grass and sunflower seed flats, but if you grow your own seeds you will need more garden space. Also, if you have cold frames, mini greenhouse etc, you can grow much more food in less space. And remember John Jeavons did much of his research in California. In some areas you need much more space because of a shorter, cooler growing season.
     
  7. atlantajack

    atlantajack Guest

    Thank you all for the thoughtful responses!
    Looking forward to more,
    Jack
     
  8. uncle Will in In.

    uncle Will in In. Well-Known Member Supporter

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    The size of the garden should be in direct proportion to how ambitious you are. A little garden is the best size to start with. I've seen many new gardeners start with a really large garden, then let the weeds take it over before they were done planting. The next year, most of these people didn't bother with a garden. It's kinda like taking a bite to see if you like it before you buy a big batch of Limberger.
     
  9. cowgirlone

    cowgirlone Well-Known Member

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    Unk took the words right out of my mouth! :D Start small, then add more each year.


    I also agree that it depends on where you live and what your family likes to eat. Also, if you save seed from year to year, you will use some space letting veggies seed out. (radishes, beans, lettuce, etc..)

    I know the last place I lived had a really small garden, maybe 30'x30' but it fed our family of 4 (at the time) for the whole year.
    Now my garden is at least twice that big and I have a heck of a time with it. Too much heat and wind I think.
     
  10. milkstoolcowboy

    milkstoolcowboy Farmer

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    It's dependent on how you utilize the space, but with some of the square-foot gardening techniques and double-cropping, should be able to produce enough for 4 somewhere in the neighborhood of 400-600 square feet.

    What you really want to do is have at least an acre or so in garden so that you spend every night after milking weeding it, plant more than you can possibly eat so you can give some to your neighbors. Anyone want some more zucchini? (That's just a joke out here where I live. Took a 5-gallon pail of zucchini to a neighbor as a "gift"; didn't look in the pickup box until the next morning .. there sat three five gallon pails of zucchini)
     
  11. Tracy Rimmer

    Tracy Rimmer CF, Classroom & Books Mod Supporter

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    I think it breeds like rabbits when you're not looking!

    Tracy
     
  12. boxwoods

    boxwoods Well-Known Member

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    I think you need about 1/2 to 3/4 or an acre to grow most of your veggies for a family.

    [take up room]
    strawberries
    asparagas
    potatoes
    onions
    corn
    sweet taters
    winter squash
    cabbage
    peanuts

    then tomatoes
    cucumbers
    beans
    peas
    okra
    lettuce
    swiss chard
    collards
    etc
    etc
     
  13. Shrek

    Shrek Singletree Moderator Staff Member

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    I put in 240 to 720 sq ft average per yer depending on my goals for the year. From these SFG beds I provide my fresh vegetable needs, put up enough for 1 to 2 years and produce the rest as extra income for myself and 4 animals. The 15 beds last year returned enough yield to provide my food requirements, buy a self propelled lawnmower and barter for a garden cart and two old revision PCs my neighbor was disposing of. This year I chose to only put in 4 racks for a total of 12 squares because I still have a years worth of produce put up. On average one 3 square rack is enough to supply one person with fresh vegetables and winter put up for a year.
     
  14. Montana Mom

    Montana Mom Well-Known Member

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    Depends on what and where you are growing.

    I've got my first outdoor garden this year with the main area being 11x16 and then the tomato plants being planted apart along the fenceline cause otherwise they would hog up the space. We don't like to eat plain tomatoes so any bearing will be made into spagetti sauce and canned.

    In the main area are several kinds of peppers, broccoli, squash, bush beans, dill and various other herbs. I may put some corn in along the other fence, time and energy will dictate. Next year I may add carrots, peas, onions and potatoes. Most of the other vegetables we just don't like, so that limits the growing needs.

    I'll let you know if its sufficient in a few months! :)
     
  15. PACrofter

    PACrofter Well-Known Member

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    Shrek: What are "racks" and "squares"? Thanks in advance...