brand new video:
       
get all 177 hours of
presentations here.
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

food for 1 person in under 200 square feet  RSS feed

 
Dan Broun
Posts: 24
Location: Southern Missouri
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hello everyone.

A friend of mine posted this article, and it supposedly shows a list of the types and amount of plants she plants per person to feel them throughout the year. I doubt this actually accounts for 100% of the diet these people are eating, but it really seems like it would be pretty close. Here is the article if you want to see what she suggests. So i took the number of plants reccomended, on the high end, left out the asperagus, and came up with under 200 square feet, assuming that you would grow this food using the square foot gardening method.

What do you think? Does anyone have any experience with square foot gardening that can back this up, or debunk it?

http://www.wellfedhomestead.com/how-much-should-you-plant-in-your-garden-to-provide-a-years-worth-of-food
 
Jay Grace
Posts: 238
Location: Nauvoo, AL
4
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Just skimming through the plants per person part this is at best seasonal. 10-12 asparagus per person? Is laughable. IMO 100-120 would be closer to accurate.

I'd say multiple most of those plants by 10 or more to get a realistic plant count.
And I'm still not sure you could provide enough to eat and preserve to make it through the rest of the year and into the following growing season.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
gardener
Posts: 2569
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
498
bee chicken food preservation fungi greening the desert
  • Likes 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'll approach the problem purely as a physics/engineering problem and see where we end up...

In my garden the energy delivered from the sun to the surface of the earth is about:

1800 Kwh/M2 per year in the Great Basin Desert where days are often cloudless and haze free. It would be less in more cloudy areas. That is equal to 167 KWH per square foot per year. Since there are 860 food Calories per KWH that is equivalent to 140,000 Calories per square foot per year

Then we need to consider what portion of that light can be used.

1% Plant efficiency at converting sunlight to food.
50% Of the year the garden is not covered with snow.
50% Plants only use half of available light due to starting small.
75% Percentage of growing season or day when it's warm enough for photosynthesis.

Which results in 270 Calories per square foot potentially being converted into food.
That number is right in line with the data discussed at:
http://www.waldeneffect.org/blog/Calories_per_acre_for_various_foods/
which if converted to Calories per square foot works out to:
Potatoes 390
Corn 280
Wheat 150
Soybeans 48

In my garden I harvest approximately 130 Calories per square foot when growing dry beans, and approximately 120 for corn. I don't keep good enough records to calculate calories for other crops.

How much food does a person actually need?

Let's say 2000 Calories per Day which equals 730,000 Calories per year which works out to 2700 square feet per person per year. So an acre of ground could feed 16 people.
 
elle sagenev
Posts: 1282
Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
16
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Jay Grace wrote:Just skimming through the plants per person part this is at best seasonal. 10-12 asparagus per person? Is laughable. IMO 100-120 would be closer to accurate.

I'd say multiple most of those plants by 10 or more to get a realistic plant count.
And I'm still not sure you could provide enough to eat and preserve to make it through the rest of the year and into the following growing season.


For sure on the asparagus. I can eat 12 asparagus plants in one meal. Mmmmm grilled asparagus!
 
Dan Broun
Posts: 24
Location: Southern Missouri
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thanks for your feedback everyone, sorry it took me so long to remember to say thank you!
 
Su Ba
pollinator
Posts: 978
Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
122
books forest garden rabbit solar tiny house woodworking
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I just read the list and I can say from personal experience, I'd starve to death if that's all I planted during the year. For example - beets. In my family one person eats 3 beets a week. Times that by 52 weeks and you get 156 beet plants. That's not the 10-20 plants she lists. Broccoli - a person here eats 1/2+ broccoli head a week, times 52 gives you 26 broccoli plants. Not the 5-10 on the list. Carrots- the list allows for less than one carrot per week, but we routinely eat one whole large carrot per person a week. That equates to 52 carrots per person assuming the carrot is large. Not the 40 max on the list, and with homegrown carrots, they usually aren't big ones either. The same logic applies to the rest of the list.

In my situation, her list doesn't fit our lifestyle. We eat a lot more veggies.

Growing your own food isn't all that clean cut and simple. Just because you plant 30 beet seedlings doesn't mean that you'll get 30 nice sized edible beets. Not every plant is successful. Some seedlings simply don't form a beet, some may die, some may be deformed. Then there are the bugs and diseases that can ruin some of the plants. Add to that some bad weather and your useable crop goes down further.

200 square foot per person a year is impossible on my homestead. I don't know exactly how much square footage would be needed per person because my garden also produces livestock feed and surplus for trading & selling, but it surely is way more than 200. And when you start thinking about producing all or most of your own food, then the square footage of land use goes up even more. Grains take a lot of square footage. Add chickens, rabbits, sheep, goats and even more land is needed......unless of course you're buying all their feed which is kind of cheating in my book if you're claiming your growing all your own food.

On my homestead we produce 90% of our own food. I buy very, very little commercial feed......basically just what is needed for days when I'm away from the farm or sick. We eat out 3 meals a week, plus buy assorted spices, seasonings, grapes, apples, cherries, some cheeses, peanuts, cashews, some milk, and a few incidentals..... thus the reason I can only claim 90%. We grow, forage, hunt, or trade for everything else. Thus I'm pretty certain that a 200 square foot garden isn't going to cut the mustard.
 
Peter Ellis
Posts: 1432
Location: Central New Jersey
40
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I just read her article, and it is probably worth noting that she is not putting it forward as growing all their food, but as providing all their vegetable needs. Important difference, but still, I don't really see where her numbers are coming from on the numbers of plants per person.

As for fitting her list into two hundred square feet, I cannot see fitting the squash alone into that little space. Try to plant everything on that list in only 200 sf and you are absolutely going to go hungry! lol
 
Jay Grace
Posts: 238
Location: Nauvoo, AL
4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I believe this plants per person stat looks like it is based off the maximuim yield per plant. Like one yellow squash could yield 50lbs of squash or a tomatoe plant could yield 100lbs of fruit.

I'd like to be proven wrong on this but it seems to be based on a perfect environment, zero plant loss, maximum yields, and minimum caloric intake.

Number crunching at it's finest.


Honestly I'd wither away to nothing on 2000 calories a day. I wouldn't die, but I wouldn't be happy.
 
Your mind is under my control .... your will is now mine .... read this tiny ad
Video of all the permaculture design course and appropriate technology course (about 177 hours)
https://permies.com/wiki/65386/paul-wheaton/digital-market/Video-PDC-ATC-hours-HD
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!