April 26, 2014 at 11:07 am #11005
As part of my quest to generate other income streams from my small farm, outside my normal business, and meet others of like mind, I offer self-reliance type gardening services to my local area. In other words, I help people decide where to best place a garden, what gardening method is most suited to them given their skill level, age, physical condition and goals, planting and growing advice. A client I am going to meet this morning prompted this post.
This client, who lives in a subdivision on the edge of ‘country’, who has never gardened except for planting flowers, buying and watering hanging baskets for the porch; and, spreading fertilizer on the lawn, wants help because she wants to grow all the food for her family of 5.And, she wants to do it this gardening season. Both she and her husband work full-time. Kids are all under 13. When I told her that I wouldn’t be able to help her because that was not a realistic goal she simply did not understand. Do you understand why I told her her goal was not realistic?
1. there was presently no ‘garden’ – just an acre of grass around her home. Soil unknown. It’s already April. New garden must be dug, soil tested, amended etc.
2. lack of labor – to grow enough food for a family her size takes lots of labor – husband has no interest, they both work with long commutes and the kids aren’t interested. One unknowledgeable person part-time? No way.
3. lack of knowledge – there is simply no way to grow all the food a family that size would need in one growing season without prior experience – and the knowledge and experience to process it (can, freeze, dehydrate etc) during the growing season
I could go on. If you garden to supplement your stores, or are experienced gardener and grow most of your own food you know what is involved – particularly the time commitment.
Now, I am going to still assist this nice lady because she sincerely wants to achieve this goal, believes the SHTF is going to happen sooner than latter and she wants to take care of her family. But she is going to start off on much smaller scale, much simpler goals to begin with, one of them being to enlist her children’s help and interest in the project.
One of THE BEST planting guides I have ever seen, is the one I use from Kathernie Grossman at granny-miller.com.. I’ve attachedi it here as a PDF. Study it. Really look. To feed a family of only 4 you aren’t talking about buying a couple of seed packets. You are
talking 1/2 pounds of seeds, succession planting etc. look at the number of pints/quarts – think of the storage required Think how many jars you would need.
Some of you might remember her old blog from a long while ago by a different title but it crashed/had data loss problem. This is the link to her current blog. It’s one of my favorite self-reliance blogs. She’s been living it in western PA for years.
Most of all if you intend to seriously grow food for yourself in the future, start now and do as much as you possibly can now. There is timing and scheduling involved as well that won’t come as second nature to most.There is a steep learning curve. Please don’t put it off.
Please consider printing and keeping her PDF – really I’ve seen none better.
Attachments:You must be logged in to view attached files.April 26, 2014 at 5:07 pm #11054
Yes I do because I am a family of four and have tried and it is a lot of labor. Also if anything goes wrong your garden ends! Bugs which I had problems with the tomatoes, heat, having to water all the time, other bad plants growing in your garden. It is not easy. But many just buy a survival seeds pack and think that they can just plant and eat. lolApril 27, 2014 at 2:53 am #11142
A lot of people think they can “buy security” thats why we don’t like to feature such products on the website.
Survival is not easy, regardless what fancy gun, seed package or “unbeatable” trading strategy one has. There is so much wrong information out there. A lot of people are happy to take money and consult others and tell them bullsh!t and just what they want to hear. It feels much better than reality.
Great advice tweva and yes once things go wrong its often game over. That’s why I believe it is really important to plant a “food forest” and use some other principles of permaculture to make living of the land a bit easier.
Also permaculture isn’t the answer to everything but it provides a lot of good ideas to produce food in a self sustaining environment. Dealing with times when you can not grow such as winter (or in my case in the tropics, the dry season) is another challenge of course.
Alea iacta est ("The die has been cast")April 27, 2014 at 3:04 am #11147
Gypsy Wanderer HuskySurvivalist
Dealing with times when you can not grow such as winter (or in my case in the tropics, the dry season) is another challenge of course. – Jay
I know that feeling still haven’t started our gardens due to the odd night of freezing rain, or snow and the odd night of frost is still happening.
Prepare for the unknown by studying how others in the past have coped with the unforeseeable and the unpredictable.
George S. PattonApril 27, 2014 at 7:40 am #11185
I have been gardening for seven years, I learned a lot and still have to learn a lot.
For the moment my vegetable garden is about 100 m².
If you haven’t gardened before, I doubt you will have any succes when the SHTF.
Very good infomation on the chart, thanks for sharing.
The father of my brother in law grew all the vegetables for his family of 6 on 400 m².April 27, 2014 at 7:41 am #11186
Yes, the logistics of trying to grow all your food are so great it is stupid to try. What you need to do is to practise and get experience in doing it on a small scale.. so you maybe could do it if you needed. And you need to get the tools .. hand tools … that you will need if the SHTF. Like I have corn (maize) sheller and a grinder. But I would not try growing maize by the acre . If I thought that SHTF was imminent.. I would go out and buy 500lbs of shelled maize .( or more depending on how many people and how long I thought I needed to feed us). With the idea that this bulk staple would get me thru a year or so till I .. and my team.. could become self sufficient… because we had to.
I suspect we will have a lot of very boring basic food… before we learn to be self sufficient.April 27, 2014 at 4:58 pm #11254
Kiwi25, You are right about having a lot of boring basic food in a SHTF. I have a years worth of rice and beans. I do have other can foods but it may get boring. My plan is to grow and eat some of the food I grow in between the foods I have stored.April 27, 2014 at 6:13 pm #11261
There was a very interesting series on PBS awhile back , it was called ” Pioneer Family ” . Basically what they did was take 3 families from the city , and put each of them on a homestead in Montana . most of the families were chosen because they had teenage children that could help the adults , they were given training on how to do things , this was needed because they had to live like people did in the 1800’s , not sure how many months they had to do it , but at the end , the men hated to have to go back , but some of the women coudnt leave fast enough . The biggest reason for this , was that the women’s work was monotonous , while the men had many different things they had to do in a day . Most of the time , the women were in the kitchen , constantly cooking , one meal would be finished , then they would have to start the next one for it to be ready in time . It was never ending .April 27, 2014 at 8:33 pm #11272
Yes going back in time will be hard on women, no electricity so no dish washer, washer and dryer, microwave, oven, range, coffee maker, toaster, refrigerator. It is bigger than we think.April 29, 2014 at 9:39 am #11603
Many years ago, my family at least in part raised much of what we ate vegetable wise.
School, jobs and such eventually put that in the past.
Fast forward two plus decades, my own family is considering some gardening to supplement our diet.
My wife doesn’t fully understand the size of garden we really need and don’t have the space for, let alone a long enough growing season.
I find it highly amusing those that buy the little seed banks and think they’re ready. No experience, no knowledge, and little chance of success.April 29, 2014 at 11:26 am #11647
Whirlibird, in a SHTF so many will think the same but it will be not funny when they find out that it doesn’t work that way! They are buying the survival seeds thinking that is it! lol.May 27, 2015 at 5:00 pm #41328
I know this an old post. Just looking through everything while I have a free minute. I agree with the last couple of posts.
Back in ’09 I bought one of those ‘garden in a can’ things. I forgot about it until this year.
I thought I would try it out since I was trying to do a garden anyway.
All the stuff I started inside died either before I could transplant it outside, or after I transplanted it. The cold weather stayed very late. It might not even be gone yet in late May.
I saved more than half of what I had from the can in case the stuff I started inside didn’t take.
I planted a lot of it as soon as the ground seemed a little warmed up.
It is now May 27, and I have maybe 20 corn plants coming, as an example. I would say they are an average of about 2-3 inches tall. Even though I put them out as early as I could, I question whether they will have a long enough season now.
I agree as well with just having the ground ready. I have had trouble just preparing enough space by myself to plant what I have on hand. I still have a bag of peas that I have nowhere to plant.May 28, 2015 at 9:06 pm #41381
I have been looking at building a greenhouse and try my hand at gardening for a while. I am glad that this thread was resurrected.
The amount of information that is assumed by those “teaching” people to garden is just amazing to me. That is why I like when people like Tweva post up things like this. Since I am really not much past the “the seed goes in the ground, right?” stage, your document really helps to put things in perspective. I was not aware that it took so much land to grow enough food to feed a family of 4. Holy sheep shears…..
I definitely need to get my greenhouse built so that I can do some trial and error learning. Also need to learn how to can as well…. Makes me feel SO far behind.
http://ageofdecadence.comMay 29, 2015 at 1:30 am #41383
Sled, The cost of a greenhouse is expensive. Is your season to short to grow crops outdoors? I’m not saying you shouldn’t have one but if your just starting out gardening a greenhouse is unnecessary. They grow potatoes in Caribou Maine where there is three days of summer so it can be done anywhere, you should be able to pick crops that will grow locally.May 29, 2015 at 2:16 am #41387
The thing about gardening is…..it depends. When I did my 1st veggie garden, everything grew great and I figured this isn’t so hard. The next year there was some blight that came through and ruined the tomatoes, some mold type thing hit the zucchini and yellow squash, and I ran out of summer before my watermelon and cantaloupes were ripe. I might have given up right then and there had I not has such a successful 1st year. This year I have my 1st veggie garden in my new location and so I’ll see how it goes. I planted zucchini, yellow squash, pumpkins, honeydew melon, cantaloupe, celery, spinach, sweet corn, 4 kinds of potatoes, 2 kinds each of onions, bell peppers and watermelons, and 3 kinds each of tomatoes and beans. Whatever happens good or bad will then guide me to hopefully do better next year.
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