So far my vegetable garden experiment is going well. But the question is, would I be able to scale it up to fully support myself for my food requirements? Right now I am working with 3 – 4×4 boxes = 48sq ft. My estimates at the beginning of the year were that I would need slightly over 500sqft to supply all of my fruit and vegetable requirements. Considering what I’ve grown so far this year, I don’t think that would be possible. I think that 500sqft for just vegetables would be practical though.
My pole beans have done very well at producing green/yellow beans in just 4sqft. Doing it again, I would plant the same number of beans for green bean purposes in twice the area. Right now, it’s just too crowded on the bean trellis.
A happy accident this year is that yellow beans mature faster than green beans, so I have had a steady supply over the summer. I will definitely do that again next year.
This hasn’t left me with any dried beans, which is where I would get my protein if I was growing all of my own food. I’d probably plant the rest of my scaled up space with bush beans where I would get a large harvest of dry beans, and then all of the plants ripped out for a winter crop.
Scaled: 8sqft green beans, 32sqft bush beans
I am very pleased with my cucumber harvest. They have been growing faster than Tracy and I can eat them, although we’re not eating them as often as we would if that was our sole food supply. It’s the first year I’ve grown cucumbers and the trellis has been perfect for the vines. The large 12″ cukes hang on the vines without any problems.
Once again, this doesn’t leave me anything to store for the non-growing season. I’m going to have to learn how to make pickles.
Scaled: 8sqft slicing, 16sqft pickling.
Tomatoes have been a big disappointment. I think the problems were threefold: not the right soil conditions, I left them in small containers too long, poor weather.
I planted 4 plants and haven’t harvested a single tomato yet. Since last year was so great with the cherry tomatoes, I thought I would be tired of tomatoes by now.
Next year, I’m going to use some plastic to raise the temperature and keep them dry.
A big factor with the carrots was that I didn’t get the seeds planted early enough. I’m just starting to harvest now, when I’d like to be starting my fall crop.
I planted 7sqft of carrots, but lost 2 due to the Brussels sprouts falling over during the heavy rains.
I have no idea how many I’d need to support myself. I think going 5x more carrots would work out, especially if I could get a spring and fall crop.
The beets have done very well, both for the roots and for the greens. Again it’s a problem with timing, I am only starting to harvest them now.
The onions were my second biggest disappointment this year. Like most other things, they were planted too late, and didn’t get very big. The heavy rains we got seemed to knock them over early because I had to harvest them already. The stalks had fallen over and were browning. They taste great though!
The big question for me is how do they keep? I could grow a lot more but if they all spoiled they would be much use. I think I’d want to make a lot of salsa, spaghetti sauce, and vegetable stock to use them up.
Now that summer is here, I’m not getting any salad greens, but I did get some great harvests up until June.
I planted 1 parsley ‘plant’ that I bought as a seeding, and I should have split it up into about 4sqft.
The basil didn’t do very well this year, and only one square really produced any plants.
I’d love to make a ton of pesto though.
They haven’t matured yet, although the buds are forming, so I’m happy about their progress. Next year, they need to be staked because they flopped over in the rain and killed the neighbouring carrots.
The scaled up amount is just a guess! I have a feeling I’m going to get tired of them quickly once I can start to pick them.
4sqft was used for marigolds and nasturtiums. They did their job, the only slug I saw all year in the garden was eating the marigold. The nasturtiums attracted a ton of aphids, and that was when I pulled them.
The other thing they do is attract pollinators, but I think I would try to get some more useful plants in like bee balm and echinacea as well.
Current Amount: 48sqft
Scaled Amount so far: 288sqft.
That leaves me with 224 sqft to work with in my imaginary garden. What would I plant?
I’ve never grown any kind of squash, so next year I’ll be growing zucchini. Each plant apparently takes up 9sqft, and one plant can supply a lot. I have a feeling I would be making a lot of zucchini bread.
Scaled Amount: 24sqft
Again they take up a lot of space, but the nice thing is that they keep forever.
Scaled Amount: 24sqft
And after all of this, I’m still missing out on several vegetables that I’d like to be able to eat:
Asparagus: A permanent bed is required for asparagus because it’s a perennial. I’d guess 20sqft would give plenty.
Cabbage: I don’t each much cabbage, maybe 4 heads a year? But I’d probably make it 8sqft just to be safe.
Corn: 100sqft? There are issues with pollinating corn because it requires wind to carry the pollen between stalks. Growing it in a small space is apparently difficult.
Potatoes: I’ve never grown potatoes before so this is just a wild guess, 40sqft?
Pumpkins: I love pumpkin pie! 24sqft.
Bok choy and other Asian specialties: 20sqft
So add on another 212sqft for a total of 724sqft. And this doesn’t include any fruit, grains, or rice.