As I have reached a fork in the road, starting a new journey, it is time to look at “What To Grow For A Family Of Four”. Now there will not be four people in my household. It is two, and perhaps when I find the right partner, it is three who knows? Time will tell.
I base the analysis on a family of four, although the max will be three. The reason why I do this is cropping might fail, I want to preserve, and I want to sell some.
So let’s have a look, as it might surprise you.
I live in what they call grow zone 3 corresponds to a temperate climate with a moderate growing season. I plan to stay in the same grow zone, but the area I am looking at has less rainfall than where I am now.
I base it upon what I currently grow, as it is what we tend to eat, and I have “experience” with that type of food, so it helps to plan my food production for a family of four adults in growing zone 3, taking into account the crops and chickens I plan to have:
- Calculate calorie needs: Assuming each adult requires 2,000 calories daily, the family would need around 8,000 or 2,920,000 calories yearly.
- Crop yields: The expected yields for each crop will differ. I spend much time on soil improvement and have to start that again at my new place. But here are some numbers I can achieve at the moment.
Some rough yield estimates per 10 square meters for the crops that mean for each, on every 10 square meters. E.g. 10 square meters of Potatoes can yield 45kg if planted in the ground. Drum growing might yield more.
- Potatoes: 45-90 kg
- Beans: 1.4-2.3 kg
- Beetroot: 11-23 kg
- Lettuce: 25-30 heads
- Tomato: 18-36 kg
- Broccoli: 9-14 kg
- Cabbage: 14-18 kg
- Pumpkin: 23-45 kg
- Onions: 9-18 kg
- Spring onions: 20-30 bunches
- Spices: I also grow turmeric and ginger in large quantities. I plan on keep doing that as I use a lot of turmeric and ginger. This year I also started to grow Shampoo ginger, but I am unsure what that will bring. My ex-partner, turned housemate as we go through the motions, does not like the spicy food I do, so I plan to grow some more different varieties at my new place. Which could be a potential revenue.
- Chickens: A healthy, well-fed laying hen can produce 250-300 eggs annually, depending on the breed. I think we got half that with ours.
- Plan your garden size: So I need approx 140 square meters of veggie patch to feed a family of three with something spare. Currently, I have about that size, I am on 5 acres at the moment, and after that is sold, I will move to a 1-2 acre site. I have learned so much on my current property, which I will introduce at my new property. Soil improvement, companion planting etc.
- Adjust for your climate: I am in growing zone 3, and the moderate growing season means I can grow anything all year round. It comes at a “cost”, though. We have a lot of bugs we can do without.
How I currently grow.
I “throw” stuff in the ground and hope for the best. Ok, it is more scientific than that. I start all my vegetables in seed trays. This allows me to use the vegetable area to be used more effectively. I only plant what germinated.
I do not use raised beds for most of my veggies because I have the “toys” to work the soil. This might change in my new place, so I have been considering raising beds. I grow some ginger and shampoo ginger in a small raised bed, but that is it. I can see the advantage of raised beds at my new place if it was only to prevent the dogs from running through it.
Let us have a look at the advantages and disadvantages of both.
- Lower initial costs: In-ground gardening typically requires fewer materials and has lower set-up costs than raised beds, as you only need to prepare the soil and start planting.
- Larger planting area: Since the size of a bed doesn’t constrain in-ground gardens, you have more flexibility in planting area and layout, which may allow for greater crop diversity and higher yields.
- Natural soil ecosystem: In-ground gardens benefit from the existing soil ecosystem, including beneficial microorganisms and insects that aid in nutrient cycling and pest control.
- Better moisture retention: Soil in in-ground gardens typically retains moisture better than raised beds, reducing the need for frequent watering.
- Easier temperature regulation: The earth acts as a natural insulator, helping to regulate soil temperature in in-ground gardens and providing protection against extreme temperature fluctuations.
- Limited control over soil quality: With in-ground gardening, you have less control over the soil quality and may need to invest time and resources to improve it if it needs improvement.
- Increased risk of soil-borne diseases and pests: In-ground gardens may be more susceptible to soil-borne diseases and pests, which can spread more easily in traditional garden beds.
- Potential for soil compaction: Walking on the soil in in-ground gardens can lead to compaction, negatively affecting plant growth by limiting root development and reducing air and water infiltration.
- Less accessibility: In-ground gardens can be harder to access, particularly for individuals with mobility or physical limitations, as they may require bending, kneeling, or crouching.
- More challenging weed management: Weeds can be more problematic in in-ground gardens, as they can easily spread through the soil and compete with your vegetables for nutrients and space.
Raised Bed Gardening
- Improved soil quality and drainage: Raised beds allow for greater control over soil quality and composition, leading to healthier plants. Additionally, raised beds generally offer better drainage, reducing the risk of waterlogged soil.
- Fewer soil-borne diseases and pests: Raised beds can reduce the risk of soil-borne diseases and pests, as they are physically separated from the ground and can be filled with disease-free soil.
- Easier access and maintenance: Raised beds are more accessible, making it easier for gardeners to plant, weed, and harvest, particularly for those with mobility or physical limitations.
- Extended growing season: Raise beds to warm up more quickly in the spring and stay warmer longer in the autumn, potentially extending the growing season for your vegetables.
- Attractive design options: Raised beds can be designed and arranged in various ways, allowing for creative and aesthetically pleasing garden layouts.
- Higher initial costs: Raised beds require more materials and higher set-up costs, as you need to build the beds and purchase soil and other amendments.
- Increased watering needs: Raised beds tend to dry out more quickly than in-ground gardens, which may necessitate more frequent watering, particularly during hot, dry periods.
- Limited planting area: Raised beds have a finite planting area, which may limit the number and variety of crops you can grow.
- Potential for nutrient leaching: In areas with heavy rainfall, raised beds may be more prone to nutrient leaching, leading to nutrient deficiencies in your vegetables.
- Temperature fluctuations: Raised beds can experience greater temperature fluctuations than in-ground gardens, as they are more exposed to the elements. This can lead to challenges in maintaining consistent soil temperatures, particularly during extreme weather conditions.
So I have not decided yet, a lot depends on the place I end up but that has not stopped me from planning. One thing I do want in my new place is a root cellar, I truly miss a cellar. When living in the EU we had root cellars and they are the best to store food and veggies, so yes I want one again.