How Much Garden Will You Need to Survive 100%
Gardening is often touted as a relaxing, therapeutic activity, and it’s relaxing and healing! But it’s also a sign of how advanced society has become, that we can view food growing as an adorable hobby rather than an absolute necessity. On the one hand, this is a clear sign of human dominance over the world. On the other hand, it has made us extremely dependent on a farming and shipping system that has proven extremely fragile.
Anyone who has ever successfully grown tomatoes in their backyard wondered if they could go “off the grid”, grow their own food and do away with their local supermarket. The answer is yes, but this is the wrong question. The question is not whether it is possible, the question is how . It’s all about the logistics: how much space do you need to grow enough crops to feed yourself and your family? Math will help you figure it out.
Calculate the required area
If you’ve ever gardened just for fun or to complement store-bought groceries with delicious homemade treats, you may not know how much space it takes to feed someone. You may have noticed that family farms are quite large , and there is a very good reason for this (although some of this space has traditionally been reserved for livestock and draft animals). Estimates vary. For example, different crops require different amounts of space, and some gardening gurus have calculated that you’ll need at least 4,000 square feet per person , with more space reserved for things like walkways between crops.
Most of us don’t have 4,000 square feet to devote to gardening, but you probably don’t need that much if you’re efficient. A good rule of thumb is that you need about 200 square feet per person for a self-sustaining garden. So, if you’re a family of four, you’ll need about 800 square feet, or a space that’s roughly 20×40 or 10×80.
It’s… still a lot of space, especially if you’re in an urban setting. Planning your garden is key, because different crops take up different amounts of space, and if you’re going to live off those crops, you need to include a wide variety of plants for complete nutrition. Your garden should have the following items:
- Squirrels. If you are going to survive in the garden, you will not eat meat. While nuts are a great source of protein, nut trees take up a lot of space so make sure you plant beans. Growing lima beans on poles would require about six square feet of garden per person. String beans will take about 10 square feet and soybeans will eat about 30 square feet.
- Carbohydrates. You will need some starch in your diet. The good news is that you have many options. In fact, the beans will perform a double function here. Potatoes will need about 25 square feet per person, corn will need about 30 square feet per person, pumpkin will need about six square feet, and peas will need about eight square feet.
- Vitamins. A complete diet requires a lot of nutrients beyond proteins and carbohydrates, so plan to include foods like spinach (eight square feet per person), broccoli (eight square feet), kale (one square foot), or white cabbage (10 square feet).
- Fruits. You can eat only vegetables, but eating fruits is a great idea. Good melons (six square feet per person), pumpkins (10 square feet), strawberries (10 square feet), and watermelons (six square feet).
- Medicines and spices. Some plants don’t have a lot of nutritional value but make life so much better by providing a spice or health benefit. Some examples include cilantro (one square foot per person), garlic (four square feet), onion (eight square feet), and mustard (two square feet).
If you’re growing every plant we’ve just discussed for a family of four, you’ll need roughly 754 square feet of garden space, so the 200-square-foot rule works pretty well.
Here are the cautions to survive on your own food
There are a few caveats or aspects of a survival garden here that you really need to think about before you decide that just because your backyard is exactly 200 square feet, you will be able to pull this off. First of all, the above list is not exhaustive and only includes a few examples. You may need carrots, okra, or cauliflower. This garden size calculator will give you some idea of how many square feet each crop needs. When planning your garden, the main rule is: grow what you want to eat. Growing foods you despise is not the way to live.
Other things to consider:
- Diversity. Keep in mind that growing enough food to survive will tire you out over time. Sure, you could be a complete Mark Watney and try to live on nothing but potatoes (and you might be able to do that with some additions), but if you think second year is going to be oppressive with nothing but potatoes, you’re kidding yourself. . Keep in mind that variety is the spice of life, and a variety of diets will require more square meters.
- Seeds. Make sure you always choose open pollinated seeds so that you can recover seeds from your crops and replant.
- Corruption. Growing food is a battle with nature. The moment your crops start growing, hungry critters will show up to eat them in the middle of the night, bugs will nest in them, and diseases will somehow find them. You’ll need a margin of error if you’re going to live off your garden, and you’ll probably need a year or two to figure out what not to do and make adjustments to your plan.
- Design. There are many ways to set up and manage a survival garden. Square gardens use raised beds and a grid system to maximize space, keyhole gardens are drought tolerant, and home gardens use a farm-like layout (and require more space). When planning a survival garden, pay attention to the space you have available and consider what kind of garden design will maximize your yield.
A survival garden can bring a lot of relief to your wallet and a lot of independence in your life if you have the necessary space. Hey, no one said getting offline was easy.