Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Eating off the Land

One thing that always bothered me about the Little House books was how a garden of less than an acre could supply all the vegetables for a family of five.  I'm starting to understand how much output you actually get from the plants when you're a halfway successful gardener.

The fountain garden currently has two Red Tango lettuces, Tommy (who is blooming), Brad, and Gus in it.  The tangoes are the only thing currently producing.  I have to eat a salad every few days to keep up with them.  They're starting to grow vertically like the redleaf did, so I'll have to find replacements for them when they go to seed.  That's a 4x6 area.

Artie and Kale each have their own areas, with about ten square feet total.  Kale has two servings of leaves ready about once a week.  I had to harvest Artie's second round of buds before they opened, and each of the three was a serving.  There is a set of grandbabies, Heidi, and a few great-grandbaby buds that will be ready for picking before I go on vacation next week.  They will be too small for full servings, but big enough to marinate or freeze for later.
The grafted citrus tree, being a mature tree, takes up a lot of space and you can't plant anything under it.  It is something like seven or eight feet on a side.  It does earn its pay in lemons almost year-round and the occasional orange.
The big space hogs are going to be the pumpkins.  Right now, each hill takes up a mere square foot.  I'm going to thin the hills to two or three vines today, and give any with intact roots to a neighbor who's interested in giving them a shot.  If I'm lucky, they will balloon to over 15 square feet per hill, most of it in found space around the edges of planters and walls.

This doesn't count herb pots and the unused space in the fountain that I decided doesn't get enough sun.  Altogether, we're looking at about 200 square feet (10' x20').  An acre is 43,560 square feet.  Now I can see how you could plant a quarter-acre of potatoes, carrots, and onions and it wouldn't make a dent in your ability to grow leafy greens, squashes, peas, tomatoes, and all those other veggies that we all need in a healthy diet.  What I never took into account while reading the books is that the Ingalls family were way better gardeners than I am.

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