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Growing enough food for survival

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posted on Sep, 4 2008 @ 09:28 PM
This thread assumes that a sit-X disrupts normal life such as food shipments and supplies, or if a person were trying to just homestead in a totally self-sufficient way.

How much area should be farmed for vegetables/fruits per person, in order to have a continuous or regular supply of food to eat and store, and provide a somewhat normal and varied diet/menu?

I figure a few goats and chickens, and possibly a small stocked pond would provide a variety and continual supply of eggs, meat and dairy.

posted on Sep, 5 2008 @ 12:03 PM
reply to post by Wolf321

Just a reminder to factor in the nutrients, pesticides (organic or non-organic) water, light, frost protection and pollinators needed to grow and sustain edible crops.

posted on Sep, 5 2008 @ 01:04 PM
reply to post by Wolf321

Very open ended question. How many people are you looking to support? How much land is available? Do you have a budget in mind? Will water be readily available? Without these basics, its a tough question to address and the answer will fall within those parameters. If you only have 5 acres to work with and are dependant on rainfall in Arizona, its going to be different than if you have 160 acres with 2 rivers in Colorado.

Personally, I began raising my own food with the basics that I like, have good nutrition and store easily. Mainly root vegtables, potatos, rutabagga, etc... Then I moved towards a more "traditional" garden. Tomatos, beans, etc...

Granted, I have a good deal of land, and actually started a 2nd garden on a different piece of property, which helps alot, that and I'm not the only one tending it.

The next thing I moved into were "non-traditional" home garden plants. Coffee (actually grows in the north if kept inside in the cooler months) corn, wheat, sugar beets, tobacco, loofa sponges, dwarf lemons, and other odd ball plants. The idea being cover your basics first, then think of things you use and would like in your lifestyle post sit-x. Then start to branch out and get creative. (if you figure out how to grow salt, please let me know)

The amount I can grow, harvest and put up easily takes care of my needs, and I have an abundance that I give away or sell. Obviously, I wouldnt do that in a sit-x setting, but right now, I dont need canned tomatos that are 3 years old.

Storage is the other thing. Gotta have a way to keep them, and a place to put them. Root cellars are fantastic if you have the space to build one, but there are other above ground alternatives. Traditional canning is good, but eventually we will run out of seals, so look for alternatives, drying, waxing jars, etc...

posted on Sep, 5 2008 @ 02:50 PM
Try to find a calorie calculator online and estimate the calories you and those you're looking after are going to intake over time. Then you know how much you have to eat per day, and then you know how much you're going to need for longer periods of time and can figure how to get it.

posted on Sep, 5 2008 @ 02:56 PM
reply to post by Wolf321

You know, I was gonna actually ask that question not too long ago. I am interested in hearing the answer.
I am a beginning gardner, so I am still making a lot of mistakes.

And with some things, (like peas) it is amazing how much you have to grow to get anything substantial.

Then you would have to grow enough to make enough seeds for the next year. I am sure there is a formula.

posted on Sep, 5 2008 @ 06:10 PM

Originally posted by salchanra

Very open ended question. How many people are you looking to support? How much land is available? Do you have a budget in mind? Will water be readily available?

Naturally I would forget to mention the simple things. The number of people is undetermined as of yet. I was hoping to get some answer along the lines of "You will need approximately 200 square feet per person." The land is not really an issue. I figure I will look to purchase the amount I need after determining how much I need. Budget is not an issue. Water should be readily available and not in an arid region, with at least a small reserve of collected water or well on site.

I would like to grow a variety. This variety does not include vines or trees that produce food. I plan to have a variety, like carrots, potatoes, various beans, greens, tomatoes, cucumber, peppers, peas, corn and various melons. I may even have a patch devoted to wheat to stock up on. Basically, I wouldn't want to be living on strictly radishes or just a couple vegetables.

I imagined that an acre or two of land devoted to growing these types would yield enough for a family of 5 or more for a year. I have no information to support that idea, which is why I decided to create this thread.

I like to think that I would have the time and means to grow 15 or more types of produce. Can an area required be deduced to grow that number that would provide for an individual enough to tide them over from one season to the next?

Aside from eating fresh from the garden, surplus would be canned and frozen.

posted on Sep, 5 2008 @ 06:16 PM
We all live in a community of one sort or another. I will bet that before you know it people will be conducting business with whatever they have to part with. Chances are that you and your family and friends will not be the last 100 people on Earth. learn to garden now so that if you have to increase the scale you can. Same goes with any usefull talent. This includes playing music and brewing beer. People want what they want.

posted on Sep, 5 2008 @ 06:26 PM
Ive never broken it down by acre, square footage or the like. I'll work on that and see what I can come up with for the different things I and others I know grow. In a different thread, someone mentioned growing 25,000 ears of corn on 4 acres. Thats alot of corn. So using that math, one dedicated acre would produce roughly 6000 ears, that should easily be enough for a family of 5, some for barter, and even to feed livestock. Not sure I know anyone that eats 1000 ears of corn a year.

But Ill start going over some stuff over the weekend, hopefully will have a useful post that can start to address some of this stuff.

On an aside, this is a good thread, Ive never thought to actually break down land to foodstuffs, I just section off some property and toss stuff in it.

Also, in the here and now freezing is fine, but in a sit-x setting probably wont be an option.

posted on Sep, 5 2008 @ 07:01 PM
I guess the smarter answer would be to feed the soil. Don't let it go to weeds if you have means to turn it. Get a soil test from your local extension agent. You just follow the directions and put the soil in a box. They don't have to come on your land.

Grow nitrogen fixating crops like peas, vetch, clover, (buckwheat?) etc etc and then turn those into the soil. Rotate your crops every year so the bad guys don't build up. Compost everything. Turn your compost. Learn what plants are pest and disease resitant and plant those. Do not depend on one crop. You will have crop failures. Compost them and start over.

Save your seed and learn to preserve your food for consumption and barter. Cooking delicious food is one hell of a hobby.

posted on Sep, 5 2008 @ 07:43 PM

Originally posted by salchanra
But Ill start going over some stuff over the weekend, hopefully will have a useful post that can start to address some of this stuff.

Thanks for the effort! I'm anxious to see what you come up with.

On an aside, this is a good thread, Ive never thought to actually break down land to foodstuffs, I just section off some property and toss stuff in it.

Yeah, I have only a limited experience with a produce garden, but lots of research on the matter. Mostly because I have not had the land or resources to put my plan into action.

Also, in the here and now freezing is fine, but in a sit-x setting probably wont be an option.

Quite true, however I am planning on getting set up with solar power enough to live off-grid should the need or desire arise. Some things work best as frozen anyway, like broccoli or chopped onions and peppers.

posted on Sep, 5 2008 @ 07:43 PM
reply to post by stikkinikki

You're already on my wavelength.
I have an entire plan I would like to put into play that accounts for testing soils, grouping plants that favor certain soils together, maintaining multiple compost piles of varying pH levels to regulate soil properties, as well as seed preservation.

Ideally, I would like to have a small greenhouse/conservatory of sorts for starting seedlings, an emergency back up in case of a contaminated exterior area and to test alternative methods such as small scale hydroponics.

[edit on 5-9-2008 by Wolf321]

posted on Sep, 6 2008 @ 02:30 AM
I suggest you visit Permaculture the earth

Just recently I was introduced to this means of "gardening" for lack of a better word. This method tells about making good soil out of bad for backyard gardening. This site also has links for keeping "backyard" chickens.

You can also do a search here on ATS. There are many threads about permaculture. Here is one link permaculture


[edit on 9/6/2008 by Mahree]

posted on Sep, 7 2008 @ 10:40 AM
If i remember correctly from the John Seymour Self sufficiency book that is currently downstairs, it's about 5acres for a family of 4-5. That includes the occasional surplus plus the exotic crops.

The 1 acre holding requires some external input/trading.

posted on Sep, 7 2008 @ 02:26 PM
My yard is one acre. My backyard has 2 gardens. 20 foot by 20foot.
One garden has Green beans,peppers,green and white onions,kholorabi,
the second garden has Cucumber,cantaloupe,tomatos,snow peas.
I also have Kiwi vines growing on my fence. Each vine produces enough kiwi to feed all my neighbors.
With my 2 gardens and my kiwi vines we could easaly survive. We eat about half of everything and the rest gets frozen. What we cant freeze we give away. Heirloom seeds are the way to go so you can collect the seeds and replant next year.
There is no reason a family of 5 cant live off their own yard. You just need to convert the entire thing to a garden.

Oh ya i forgot to mention. When you have a garden,the meat comes to you. (Rabbits Birds)

posted on Sep, 7 2008 @ 02:45 PM
You have recieved some very good answers already so my input is from a farm Moms simple ways.

What I like to keep in mind is how many times a week I eat a certain food such as green beans or corn, and I just figure if we eat 1 quart a week of green beans then thats 4 a month 72 per year. Now we may not eat that many but with holidays and friends popping in it is a good estimate.

We love a lot of pasta type dishes so I always make up my own sauces ahead of time and can, we do the same with salsa and pizza sauce.

I have plenty of the quart jars of delicious tomatoes for soups and chile, and stews. It makes a good base. Blended it goes good with a touch of milk and butter to make soup for a healthy addition to sandwiches when we are in a hurry.

Our real staples that keep our immune systems boosted through the winter months are:

Squashes, they keep very well
sweet potatoes
green beans
zuchinni (frozen)

And then many more types of veggies which are usually eaten fresh in season. Always keep and store seeds from previous year, make sure they are NonGMO non hybridized.

Learn to make good bread...

posted on Sep, 7 2008 @ 03:12 PM
Don't forget, if this is for survival, you will need an adequate root cellar because relying on electricity adds more hassel in the long run. Also if there is enough land try to grow wheat or barley or rice, simply because it keeps so long(and can be used to make flour). Having fresh vegitables in the winter is not usually possible unless you have hot boxes dug into the ground so you can grow lettuce ect year round.

posted on Sep, 11 2008 @ 05:54 PM
Havent forgotten about this thread, I actually have been doing a little research on this issue. Have some of the basics covered, but have been AFK alot out hunting. Gotta fill the pantry when I can. When I get back, should have some numbers for you.

posted on Sep, 21 2008 @ 05:59 AM
reply to post by Wolf321

It is important to seperate gardening as a hobby from survivalist gardening . During situation x you will need to seed your own fruit and vegetables , obtain a supply of water and fertilizer . I have found Potatoes , Tomatoes and Broccoli are easy to seed and I have heard that pumpkin falls into this category as well . Although it is far from ideal in more general terms you can reduce your dependency on your local supermarket by adopting gardening as a hobby.

posted on Sep, 24 2008 @ 04:45 PM
If I post all of the numbers and research I found looking into this, it would turn into a very long, boring drawn out post. I dont want to type that, and seriously doubt anyone wants to read it. So here is the condensed version.

Four a family of 4 this is what I would do, you could get by with one acre, but 2 would be much easier.


2 100 foot rows will yield 300-600 lbs of potatos
60 tomato plants will produce about 300 lbs
1 50 ft row will produce roughly 80 lbs of carrots
1 50 ft row will yeild about 100 lbs of rutabagga
Plant 1/4 acre with corn. This should produce about 1200 ears. Enough for food and feed. If you like eating corn, plant more so you have enough to use as feed.
A 10x10 plot will produce about 100lbs of cabbage
20 Strawberry plants will produce roughly 8lbs of berries
Peas, while they dont store as well as root vegetables, grow alot of them to add nitrogen to the soil. I would put in a 100 ft row, I had a bad pea year, but in 25 ft I produced about 12 lbs.
Beans, roughly the same yield as peas, at least where I am at.

This is what I would plant, if I had limited land, was looking out for 4 people. Notice I left "exotics" out such as sugar beets, tobacco, coffee, etc... Also, I did not include beets or radishes, as they grow so quickly even a small patch can produce results. Missing also is lettuce. Impossible long term storage and doesnt provide a lot of nutrition anyways.


Chickens. I have 40 chickens living comfortably in a fenced in area roughly 25x25 including coop. Egg production is ideal at around 200 per year, but I average about 100 per hen.

Turkeys. Ive read that you need 6 feet per bird. I have 22 in a 16x10 area, they seem to do just fine. I average about 60 turkey eggs per year per hen.

If you raise both, keep them apart, chickens are known to pass on a diesese to turkeys which kills them. Not sure what its called.

If you wanted to go into animals aside from foul, I would stick with sheep and goats. 4-6 would be managable and would provide a source of wool, milk and meat. Horses, cows, pigs, etc... are fine, but growing enough feed may prove difficult in the long run.

Rabbits are also very good. They dont take up any room, replenish their stocks quickly, and dont eat a whole lot. I would set myself up with a minimum of 12 to start with and grow my "herd" to around 20-25.

As far as the idea of a stocked pond, I didnt look into this, as in my area, feasibility is a huge concern. Anything less than 30ft deep would likely freeze solid.

So anyways, thats what I came up with. If I had to start a small homestead with 4 people on two acres tomorrow, this is what I would start out with.

Any suggestions, additions, or comments are greatly appreciated.

posted on Sep, 25 2008 @ 06:36 AM
Salchanra for me personally due to the issue of housing affordability owning land is out of the question . On the flip side it is possible to grow more then you would expect in a small area . My aim is grow enough food to make the purchase of a food drier economical . I add to my garden as I can afford to so . Realistically speaking an achievable goal for me might be partial self sufficiently.

One thing worth noting is that once you add animals in the picture you also have to produce the food to feed them and what ever else is needed to look after there general health .

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