I grew a total of 367 lb. of produce in the garden in 2009. Those 367 lb. translate to about 63,000 calories – enough food for one adult for about 25 days. So I wouldn’t say I’m anywhere near self-sufficiency on that score. Not that total self-sufficiency is really my goal. Sure, I am curious to see what it would take to grow my all my own food, but I don’t feel a particular drive to be my own farmer. I’d rather have community sufficiency, and besides, I have a day job (knock on wood) and an aversion to getting up at 5am to milk goats.
However, there are a couple foods where I think I could grow our yearly supply.
- Kale. I planted something like 25 kale plants last year. Once they started producing, we had all the fresh kale we could eat, and we harvested a total of 4 giant Rubbermaid containers of kale which cooked down into about 9 quart freezer bags (2-3 meals in each bag). I’m still hauling armloads of it out of the greenhouse. It’s starting to look a little worse for the weather (it was 15 in the greenhouse overnight) and I expect I’m pretty much done harvesting until March, at least. But there’s all that kale in the freezer…if we are judicious, we might just make it the whole year without buying any kale.
- Onions. I didn’t grow all the onions we need this year, but I think I could do so easily. I planted about 15 square feet of them last spring, which yielded about 12 pounds of onions total. I think double that would get us through the year. I probably need to plant my storage onions later if I use sets, so I’m not harvesting my storage crop in July. Or better yet, grow them from seed. Seed-stated onions are supposed to keep better, but starting them from seed requires grow lights and the transplanting of finicky little seedlings. So I’m not sure what I’ll do.
- Green beans. Ok, this is a bit of a cheat, because I almost never buy green beans. If they’re not straight from the garden, we just eat something else. But this year, I grew more than just snack-sized portions; I had enough for many meals and six or eight quarts to freeze. I also gave away five pounds of them when I just couldn’t stand to deal with another bean at the beginning of August.
- Snow peas. Again, we don’t really buy these, but they were the surprise success of the year. My sweetie loves them so much, he’ll harvest them before work and take them for his lunch instead of carrots. Which is great, because I can’t grow carrots worth a darn.
- Tomatoes. We don’t eat a ton of tomatoes, and they generally produce like crazy, so I usually come close to growing what we need for diced-tomato and salsa purposes. Pizza sauce is another thing entirely, but we love Dei Fratelli pizza sauce, which is local-ish, non-GMO, and grown on fairly small farms. And at $1/can, it’s hard to beat the price. So I have no plans to try to grow all our own pizza sauce, even though I probably could.
- Potatoes and squash. Again, we don’t eat tons of these, and they are generally easy to grow and store, so I’ve found I can grow more or less what we need.
Money-wise, if I just grew all our kale and onions, I’d save about $300 per year. So at least my hobby pays for itself!
What about you? Is there something you grow enough of that you don’t need to buy it? If you were going to try to grow all your own of one crop, what would it be?