I saw this question posed by someone on another forum (Gardenweb Vegetables forum) and thought it was interesting.
How big is your garden? How many plants of various types do you put in? What kind of yields do you get? How many people
do you feed with your produce? Do you rely on it for your main sustenance in terms of produce, or is it just a supplement to
what you buy? Do you preserve things for later use? (Hope that's not too many questions!)
The response people
have given have been really interesting to me -- some people plant a little bit but say they feed a lot of people with it
(small amounts, not "subsistence level" obviously), while others really rely upon their gardens for a major share of their
food supply. There is no "right or wrong" answer, just interesting to see everyone's different responses, theory, and
I'll give you some information about my garden and lifestyle/useage. I have a main vegetable garden
which is 110 x 100 feet, another which is 60 x 80 feet, and many smaller beds and gardens which have edibles mixed in with
ornamentals. I also grow many fruit trees, including about 10 apple trees, a dozen peach trees, 6 pear trees, sour and sweet
cherries, 3 mulberry trees, nut trees -- walnuts, hickory, filbert, chestnut. I also have a big asparagus patch, many herbs,
strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, grapes, hardy kiwi, some misc. things.
There are 3 adults
and a large dog in the household, plus various family members with whom I share things. We can, freeze, and preserve a LOT
of produce -- last year, put up over 200 quarts of tomato products, and froze two freezers, one medium, one large, full of
things. We rely on home-grown produce for most things, but of course, still buy a lot of fresh things in the off-season,
because there is no substitute for fresh, raw produce for many reasons -- we just love fruits and vegetables in this
Last year was a BAD year for gardening -- my mother had a major health crisis in April, just at the
time when things should have been getting underway, and was in the hospital nearly a month, then a lot of follow-up
appointments, etc. So, I didn't get to even think about putting in a garden until the first weekend in June -- I did make a
decent stab at it, but many things just never happened at all last year -- no peas, no brassicas, no carrots.
I did plant in 2007: 150 tomato plants, paste and large processing types. 50 pepper plants. 15 hills of sweet potatoes, 25
hills of regular potatoes, 8 hills summer squash, 20 hills of regulars squash/few pumpkins. Four 100 foot rows of corn, 20
hills cucumbers, about a 25 foot block of beets, a little basil, chard, parsley, and some salad greens (these were in
containers in semi-shade due to the lateness).
It was, however, a good yield due to attention to watering and
fertilizing -- I got over 40 bushels of tomatoes, 2 bushels of sweet potatoes, over 300 peppers (I let most of mine go all
the way to ripe, could have had more had I picked them green), TONS of squash (over 150 winter squash). I picked enough corn
to put 66 quart size bags of cut kernels in the freezer. Plus, lots of misc stuff I use all the time, like fresh and dried
herbs, rhubarb, etc.
One of the ironies of this is the fact that I am diabetic, so I have to watch my refined and
complex carbs, and I had a partial radical gastrectomy in 2005, so I can only eat a fairly small amount of food 3 times a
day, plus a couple of very small snacks. I admit we do sort of "overdo it" on preserving now, but it doesn't go to waste --
I give it away to my sisters and their grown children, who now have their own families, and it is much appreciated. Also,
it's always nice to give "garden gifts" of things like jams and jellies or homemade breads, pies, etc which use produce.
2008 is going to be a MUCH better garden year for me -- I ordered all of my seeds back in December, have started
early tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and artichokes this week under lights. I HAD hoped to plant favas and some early peas and
perhaps some lettuce seed outdoors this week, but alas, Mother Nature had other plans, and is dumping 8 to 12 inches of snow
on me tonight, after having just melted off our persistant snowpack this past week -- I got to enjoy bare ground for two
whole days! Better luck next week.