A friend asks how much garden do they need to be self sustaining for homestead living? This is one of the first questions people ask when they look into the idea of Homestead living. They want to be off the grid and fully self sustaining but they have no background in anything related. This is a huge jump and without educating yourself you are likely to fail. You will fail because you don’t understand that homestead living does not mean you are 100 percent self sustaining.
Some people have an interest in homesteading to save money. Others are into survivalist type living but the best situation is when you are simply living life to the best of your ability and doing what you can for yourself.
Realize that you can’t grow your own coffee or tea. Sure you can grow mint for your tea really easy but the tea its self is a difficult plant to grow. You can’t grow other products like wheat for flower to make bread and if you don’t own a couple hundred acres where deer like to pass through you won’t be hunting all your own meat. If you don’t put in a pond or have a stream don’t expect to harvest enough fish to live the year through. Many things are this way both in your diet and other everyday needs. This means don’t expect to live the same life that others do but you can supplement your diet and probably produce a large portion of your own food.
Planning Your Homestead Garden
So, we have considered that we won’t be able to do everything for ourselves but what are the things we can do?
Many of the produce products that we purchase can be grown on our homesteads. The things you want to emphasize are products that are easy to grow and harvest and prepare.
For instance growing peas is pretty easy. You prepare rows in your garden and plant between 1 and 3 seeds every 8 inches down the row. The extra seeds account for seed that doesn’t grow and for those tiny plants that birds mistake for worms. The time to maturity is about 70 days depending on the type and then the harvest begins. Once you have all of your plants picked over a period of about 2 weeks you will be left with about one large bag of frozen peas you could have bought for $3 at the market. They are a lot of work and the yield is low considering the space, effort and time. If you are watering your plants you must also account for the cost of water, seeds, fertilizer and everything else.
If you had planted that same area of garden with potatoes you would have enough to last you many months. They are a walk away type plant and only require final harvesting. The final harvest takes effort and you must care for your harvest by storing them correctly and making sure they are washed very well but they do last for a long time in cool conditions. You can also harvest them late or over time so its not important to set aside exact times when they must be harvested like Tomatoes or Green Squash which require daily monitoring during harvest which can last weeks.
So thats the idea find things you can do easy and then work on the rest.
If you never gardened you are at a loss because you don’t understand things like Lettuce is almost impossible to grow in the hot summer or that growing tomatoes too close together can make them sick. You also don’t understand how to preplant in a reserved part of your garden and then rotate new stock into areas that were recently harvested.
Gardening for consumption vs just having a bit of fun is a completely different thing and you have to take it serious and consider it a full time job.
This friend asked how much land or garden do you need for a self sustaining homestead garden. We then covered the idea that no matter how hard you try you won’t be able to grow and preserve and store everything you need for the entire year.
However for a garden that can significantly supplement his two person family I would suggest that he starts with a 50×100 foot garden and then away from the main garden they should plant things like blueberry bushes, raspberries and grapes as a start. Additionally fruit trees that will take up a large portion of your property are a good idea and you want to pay more for larger trees from a nursery and not buy a 5 foot plant at a local store. Fruit trees can take a decade to produce good fruit so they need to be planted early and large specimens should be purchased. Bush plants and grapes will take a few years to grow before they produce a decent harvest and they take management and planning.
Finally a pond for harvesting fish is possible if your property is large enough. You will need to contact your local farm supplier about how to prepare your pond and what precautions you need to take but you can often buy fish in the early spring.
Planning is the big thing.. and trying your hand at it before you decide you can live off the land on your own. Simply the process of canning your food for storage will take you months or years to understand well.
This is not an easy or inexpensive endeavor and it takes dedication…
On the other hand you can plant a row of tomatoes and potatoes and squash and be really happy with your harvest and it won’t be difficult to do.