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Old 05-01-2011, 17:13   #1
emt1581
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Canning/gardening...how much land/supplies per person?

If living totally off the grid food-wise...and looking at the amount of fruits and veggies the average adult needs to survive during a SHTF society...

How much land is needed to grow that amount of vegitation per person? And what plants are the most nutricious and easiest to grow climate/care-wise? Canning-wise...how many jars would be needed?

Again this is per person. I'm not sure if there's an equation for it or if someone else has already figured that out...so I figured I'd ask.

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Old 05-06-2011, 00:28   #2
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Look around the aquaponics and gardening sites. If you're growing aquaponically one person can be supplied off of 100 square feet. If you're dirt farming it's about 200.

I don't believe that includes a major source of carbs such as wheat or corn.

Some good things to grow are cabbage, beets, okinawan sweet potato, collards, and kabocha
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Old 05-06-2011, 06:39   #3
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We are on 12 acres, mostly wooded.

We have about 7000sqft of garden. With two people. In a SHTF scenario, I would try to double or triple the amount of land I was using, for crop rotation and rest for the dirt. Currently, crop production rates are artificially increased through heavy fertilization and GMO seeds, neither of which will be available post SHTF. Look up crop yeilds by acre for modern farming, then compare to what the averages where 200 years ago.. Lot's of starvation in the future..

Hydroponics is a neat experiment, but requires a lot of resources. Not what you want when electricity for pumps and lighting isn't coming out of the wall, water isn't running out of the taps, and your local garden center doesn't exist, let alone have fertilizer on the shelf.

As far as what to grow.. depends on the local climate and environment. I can grow lots of stuff my brothers in TX and MN can't. But they can grow some stuff I can't.

If you are trying to go off the grid, and truly sustenance farm, you need more garden/livestock than most people think. You have to try for and or achieve an "abundance" so you can store the bounty, because there WILL be crop failure in your future. Last year, sweet corn did for crap. But we have corn from 3 years ago when it went crazy..

You also need to think chickens and or rabbits, chickens mature faster, and lay eggs, rabbits taste better and provide more meat "per unit". We do rabbits, and trade for eggs and stewers with a neighbor.

We are able to raise about 80% of what we need, we have *about* 12-1300 canning jars. Need more. We only use wide mouth. I know no one who actually cans and doesn't use wide mouth jars. Buy lids in bulk.

Starting just a couple weeks ago, we put out 2 bee hives.. Need a "dairy" solution next..

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Old 05-06-2011, 07:03   #4
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Old 05-06-2011, 08:27   #5
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TIME. All this takes time. 2 years will show you a little bit. 4 years will show you a lot. By about 6 years and a lot of work it will begin to get easier. By about 8 years you'll have an idea "how much" and what you need to grow.

Trial and error really is about your best teacher in this- aka EXPERIENCE.

Books are great, reading others posts about this is helpful. I have hundreds of books, read and asked a lot of people about their experience. What helped me more was the day to day work, the year to year progression. Failing helps you learn. But we want to fail NOW, when their IS a learning curve. Not later when it's "on the job training" and our life may depend on the outcome.

You can learn some things in your backyard in suburbia before you move, I spent 5 years raising a pile of rabbits, chickens and a small garden in suburbia before we moved to our retreat. Their IS a great difference however between having 4 tomato plants you bought at the store in a cute little raised bed you spent $100. to build and having an acre in gardens. It does get progressively harder. It's also hard to keep up with as you'll be working as well. Most of us will never been able to "make money" homesteading. Then again, that's not the damn point of it!!! However any money you don't have to put out for food grown in your gardens, orchards or raised on the homestead or money you don't have to put out for electricity you are producing yourself, is money you can spend on preps, save or just not have to work as much for! And THAT my friends is the real reason you homestead. You'll likely never get 100% according to Hoyle "self sufficient." That's not the point.

However you will be LIGHT YEARS ahead when bad times come with the experience you'll get year to year on the land.

The experience factor is one of the reasons it's critical to move to your retreat ahead of time versus blowing in 2 minutes before the apocolypse type planning.

We have been on the land for 12 years and love it. Every year we learn more. Every year we fail at something and learn from that. Every year we do more right and learn from that.

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Old 05-06-2011, 15:19   #6
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1/4 acre (about 10k square feet) can feed 4 adults if it is managed correctly - and that is 100% organic in a 10 month growing climate with minimal to moderate waste resources.

Sustainable agriculture is not a simpleton farmer approach - it requires a great deal of research and knowledge (experience above = right). The good thing is there are lots of qualified people out there teaching people how to do it.

PA is going to have a 7 month growing climate, therefore you will need to either go with a larger piece of ground or invest in an energy efficient greenhouse to supplement the lack of sun for that period.

When I state"energy efficient", I mean it! - No conventional heating system. Conventional heating systems will become obsolete in the near future.

I live in a 6 month growing period and we are planning on dumping our house this year (10 years ago we built with geothermal and extra insulation - it has proved to be insufficient) and right now we are in the process of designing a house to build either this or next year and the house will be built using an unconventional heating system.

If you haven't heard of permaculture, get used to it - you are going to hear a LOT about it in the future.

It will prove to be sole method of sustainability for our species. This might sound like horse hockey to the urban dwellers - but urban dwellers have a tendency to take for granted that the food will always be there - it won't, food prices are on the rise and you can expect shortages in the U.S. this year as an absolute.
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Old 05-06-2011, 15:47   #7
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I have spent a lifetime learning farming. I still have failures as stated above. You must have a way to store some of your grain for seed next year and the year after if you have a bad crop. Moisture content in your seed storage is critical and if not low enough bugs will develop and ruin your seed.
Last year the best in the business in my area didn't get an apple. Controlling pests is a full time job. How are you going to water large crop areas? Without pressure irrigation it is very hard to irrigate large crop areas. It is just my belief but I feel a single family unit will be hard pressed to survive it will take cooperation and some kind of communal order.
Just my thoughts I live in a snow area so my growing season is very short. Get the small animals you want to raise that will supply one to two meals per carcas. Without refrigeration and a plentiful supply of salt preserving meat is very difficult. The guinney pig was raised in europe as a single serving animal.
Good luck and enjoy the reading and learning ahead.
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Old 05-06-2011, 18:55   #8
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When my dad was a kid they lived off their property. They had 10 acres but didn't use all of it. They were using more than 1 acre per person but less than 2. I also know that at least in the end of winter and spring they lived off chicken and eggs and potatoes. As they used up the food that they canned that was it until next year. They traded chickens and eggs for milk and sometimes beef when they could. To this day he still doesn't like to eat chicken.

They had several hundred chickens. Several acres of potatoes for people and several acres of corn for the chickens. But they still had to buy flower, sugar , spices and other baking stuff. Not to mention clothes, gas, coal, ect. But you get the idea.
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Old 05-07-2011, 00:29   #9
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Great question, emt.

The answer will depend on a lot of factors, such as your local climate, growing season, number and ages of people to feed, special dietary needs, like and dislikes in food, and even what additional equipment and storage space you are working into the project.

As for me, I'm in the upstate of SC between Atlanta and Charlotte, and its a USDA zone 7. If I plan and execute properly, I have 3 distinct growing seasons: early spring, summer, and fall. There's enough rain usually for cool season crops with little irrigation, but by June they have had it. SOme cool season crops have to be started indoors for fall because August, and our wonderful Indian summers are so dang hot.

These are all things to be considered. Our local AG school for SC is Clemson University. Many great heirlooms have come from that beautiful campus over the years. But specific to your question is a nice little gem from one of their publications.

For MY area, it takes 2500sqft of garden to supply 1 person with enough VEGETABLES to live for an entire year. That includes storage of root crops, canning, and or freezing as well as fresh eating. That is a 50x50 garden per person. That does not include grains or meat, neither does it include fruits or additional crops to make syrup for sweeteners, flax to make linen, or others for medicinal purposes. ITs just veggies.

IT also does not take into account the largest piece of land most of us will need, penned area for livestock. As with all garden plants, they will deplete the soil of nutrients that must be replenished from time to time. The simplest way to do that is with manure from your own livestock, whether chickens, rabbits, goats, hogs, or cattle. Leaf litter and river silt are other ways. Also, make sure you think of the crops you grow holistically. If you can keep fuel for a tiller, corn and such can be tilled back in or the stalks can be fed to livestock. Sorghum produces a healthy grain, but also produces a juicy stalk that can be boiled down for syrup. Call it pancakes in one plant. Use the straw from your wheat for bedding for livestock or fodder.

Also, learn proper crop rotations. Here is a simple one:
Potatoes
Root crops
Soil builders
Heavy feeders

These can follow each other, or be done year to year, depending on your climate. Plant the potatoes where you have just amended the soil with fresh manure, compost, etc. The root crops, like carrots, turnips, rutabagas, etc, will do well since the manure should be well composted by now. Soil builders, like beans and other legumes, will add nitrogen to the soil in preparation for the heavy feeders like squash, tomatoes, peppers, okra, and such.

Also, learn what plant combinations actually work well. Potatoes are deep, so plant some early beans in the middle of the potato bed. Bush beans can be pulled up as soon as you are ready to dig the potatoes. Each will repel the others pests without hurting each other. Cabbage planted in a grid with several onions in between workss the same way. Cabbage moths don't like onions. Basil grows well around tomatoes, and so does garlic. All are long season once planted, so harvesting one wont get in the way of the other.

Grains need plastic drums or small silos to store, plus you will need a manual grain mill, if the power isnt on. Potatoes and other root crops need a cool dry place to store, and plenty of space if planning for the apocalypse.

My suggestions on crops that produce and store well:
Potatoes of varieties that work well in your soil. Plant late winter and again in late summer for winter storage.
Turnips produce well and store, and will even overwinter in the ground in many areas, though up north maybe not. Spring and fall.
Carrots are great once you know that your soil will produce them. Plant spring and fall if possible.
Sweet potatoes are a great summer crop and will last in storage well into winter, if your area is warm enough for them.
Winter squashes like butternut, acorn, spaghetti, and pumpkin also store well. Grown in the summer.
Beans, whether snap or dry, have many uses and can be stored in a variety of ways. Dry beans need a lot of space in the garden if you intend to put a lot back for storage, whereas snap beans can produce a lot in much smaller spaces.

I left off much of the summer crops because while many do store well canned or frozen, that list is very long. Tomatoes for sauces, summer squash for fresh eating, and don't forget your favorite melons, and not your wifey.

I would recommend calling your local AG school and asking how much space would be necessary. My recommendation is use 2500sqft as a bare minimum for veggies, double it for staples like potatoes, add another 2500 sqft for grains, and at least that much more for small livestock. You may not need that much, and you can always cut back when you get good at it, and have plenty of storage built up. That's 10000 sqft, or 1/4 of an acre, per person. It will be much less with better climate, efficient harvesting, well tended soil, etc. If you have lots of fat juicy worms and pill bugs galore, you are well on your way.

Oh, and as for writing a book, yeah, I have been planning on doing just that. N one seems to have written one with all the info we need in one place, so maybe I'll get that proverbial "round tuit" and do it soon. LOL
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Old 05-07-2011, 05:44   #10
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Plant the potatoes where you have just amended the soil with fresh manure, compost, etc. The root crops, like carrots, turnips, rutabagas, etc, will do well since the manure should be well composted by now.
Fresh manure will cause scab on potatoes. The nitrogen in it can also cause hollow heart in potatoes and hairy forked carrots. Compost is great though. If all you have is fresh stuff, put it in the corn patch.
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Old 05-07-2011, 20:19   #11
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Sorry, you are right Gabe. I used a bad phrase.

My intent was that most of us in a survival situation would probably keep manure and other refuse in a pile that would get bigger throughout the year, like most folks do with horses and other livestock. At the beginning of the season, much of this pile would be added directly to the bed where potatoes would be planted.

It would not be "fresh" in the sense of still smelling like poo, but would be freshly added to the soil. After a season of potatoes, much of it would be well composted into the soil, leaving an ideal bed for root crops. "Fresh" compost on the other hand is great for adding as a side dressing around heavy feeders, but having a compost pile big enough for a whole garden is as much if not more work that the garden is. Keep the easy rotting greens and such for compost and large quantity manure and harvest leftovers for the manure pile to till or turn back into the soil as needed.

Thanks again Gabe for catching that.
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Old 05-07-2011, 20:34   #12
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I caught myself again. Sorry.

Fresh manure is ****e, and looks and smells the part. Compost, by definition, has already been broken down into a very rich soil, but is still a bit strong to use straight. Aged compost may be a bit acidic still, but most crops would probably grow well in it.

You can buy "mushroom compost" in bags at HD and Lowes. It is a bit strong, but will grow a lot of stuff. Great to use as an amendment for individual plants like tomatoes and peppers. It has been well composted. At many mulch places, you can also find "bulk" mushroom compost, which hasn't been composted very well yet, and WILL BURN just about anything you plant in it. ITs great for covering a whole garden that you don't plan on planting in until the following year.

I use those as an example so in case anyone is still confused. If you are still confused, there are plenty of gardeners on the forum, so just ask me or any of the others.

If it still smells like poo, it is still a bit strong to use much of it. If you have ever dumped too much fertilizer on your grass and it looks like its been 110 degrees and no rain for weeks, thats what using any manure or compost that is too strong will do. Your nose is a great tool. Aged compost will have a deep earthy smell, maybe even a slight decaying smell. Fresh manure smells like, well I hope you know that one.
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Old 05-07-2011, 22:21   #13
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Hope you have chickens, goats, etc, too. A 100% fruit and veggy diet isn't going to get the job done long-term.
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Old 05-08-2011, 01:33   #14
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Hope you have chickens, goats, etc, too. A 100% fruit and veggy diet isn't going to get the job done long-term.
I agree. Chickens provide meat, eggs, and manure. Goats provide meat, dairy products, manure, and possibly fiber. Skins are thin, but workable from what I hear.

I got a garden and chickens for now. Working on knowing where to get goats if it gets bad too quick.
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Old 05-08-2011, 10:02   #15
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I agree. Chickens provide meat, eggs, and manure. Goats provide meat, dairy products, manure, and possibly fiber. Skins are thin, but workable from what I hear.

I got a garden and chickens for now. Working on knowing where to get goats if it gets bad too quick.
If that's when you'll want then...get them NOW.

Don't wait until things get bad to go shopping.

-Emt1581

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Old 05-08-2011, 10:08   #16
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Hope you have chickens, goats, etc, too. A 100% fruit and veggy diet isn't going to get the job done long-term.
We actually already have bunny coupes, if that's the right label, on our property. Right now they are filled with gardening supplies. But I think it's somewhat cruel to keep bunnies out there year round with no heat and walking around on a grate.

In terms of meat it'll be bunnies and tree rats with a deer or two from year to year.

But looking at overall nutrition, plenty of people are vegetarians and vegans. But you need LOTS of proteins and grains to supplement, which would be a royal PITA during a SHTF if you ask me.

But in a residential neighborhood, rabbit houses are fine, chickens would be frowned upon, and I think goats/sheep would be an issue. Although, seeing how much grass they consume, putting a pair of sheep on our property would save me time and money when it comes to mowing...but the land mines would be a deal breaker...

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Old 05-08-2011, 10:14   #17
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That's the problem with living in the suburbs. The neighbors are cool with the chickens, but they are pretty much tucked away out of sight. Goats are a different story. I want them now, thats for sure. Zoning could get me in trouble though. When things get bad, zoning be damned. My neighbors already know my chickens will be free ranged anytime I'm gonna be home and outside. My immediate neighbors are all retired, and most grew up on farms, so I get plenty of advice.

What I have been looking for in goats is someone with plenty, that I can gain repoire with now, and know that when the time comes I can get a couple, or at least be able to help them raise them.
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Old 05-08-2011, 10:40   #18
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That's the problem with living in the suburbs. The neighbors are cool with the chickens, but they are pretty much tucked away out of sight. Goats are a different story. I want them now, thats for sure. Zoning could get me in trouble though. When things get bad, zoning be damned. My neighbors already know my chickens will be free ranged anytime I'm gonna be home and outside. My immediate neighbors are all retired, and most grew up on farms, so I get plenty of advice.

What I have been looking for in goats is someone with plenty, that I can gain repoire with now, and know that when the time comes I can get a couple, or at least be able to help them raise them.
Same advice though. Unless the people you make friends with are relatively seclusive, what says a dozen other people haven't done the same thing?

The way I feel, if it's not on my property, I don't own it and may never be able to get it when I need it. Only exception to that would be rain water and some game animals.

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Old 05-08-2011, 11:14   #19
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Kacey, I figured you knew it but also figured most people didn't.

There is a very simple, low labor way to improve the soil, starting now. Grow a cover crop! If you have enough space that it would be hard labor to have enough compost for, it's worth growing things like buckwheat (not true wheat, no gluten), clover, etc. Alternatively, repeatedly applied thin layers of aged manure can do great things. I don't have the time or energy to go into detail on something that Google has already covered, so dyodd.

emt, don't count on wild game. As you mentioned to Kacey about the goat acquisition problem, it'll be far worse with animals that no one owns. As an animal owner, I'd happily agree to barter for things I simply don't have. We can't all be prepared in all areas. I don't even have any desire to prep in some areas and if I knew that I could get it from someone who had it in trade for what I have an excess of... why shouldn't I? ymmv

Bunny coupes. Heh, I just had a mental image of a rabbit driving a convertible. I believe you're looking for the word "coop".
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Old 05-08-2011, 11:27   #20
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Kacey, I figured you knew it but also figured most people didn't.

There is a very simple, low labor way to improve the soil, starting now. Grow a cover crop! If you have enough space that it would be hard labor to have enough compost for, it's worth growing things like buckwheat (not true wheat, no gluten), clover, etc. Alternatively, repeatedly applied thin layers of aged manure can do great things. I don't have the time or energy to go into detail on something that Google has already covered, so dyodd.

emt, don't count on wild game. As you mentioned to Kacey about the goat acquisition problem, it'll be far worse with animals that no one owns. As an animal owner, I'd happily agree to barter for things I simply don't have. We can't all be prepared in all areas. I don't even have any desire to prep in some areas and if I knew that I could get it from someone who had it in trade for what I have an excess of... why shouldn't I? ymmv

Bunny coupes. Heh, I just had a mental image of a rabbit driving a convertible. I believe you're looking for the word "coop".
You are correct about the game. I think I'm going to work on my wife about getting a chicken COOP going this year. They sell chicks at Tractor Supply near me...cheap to. But I would want a setup that would allow for continual re-production...which would mean a Rooster or two...which again wouldn't fly in my neighborhood. But maybe there is a way around the crowing somehow??

-Emt1581
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