Tuesday, August 3, 2010

How much food can you raise on an average sized lot in town?

As food prices go up many of us are looking at ways to save money yet still feed our family nutritious food.  For some that means cutting back on the more expensive healthy food and buying the highly processed "frankenfood" instead.  One show I caught a glimpse of had a women who bought most of her food at the dollar store.  She cooked a menu based solely on what she could find there which consisted of highly processed mystery meats and boxed "dinner additions".  She was very proud to be able to feed her family of 4 a dinner for under $15.00 a night.  But every food product she used was from China which is not known for its high standards of food processing.

Now don't get me wrong, I love the dollar store.  I just don't buy food there!   What I wonder is why more people don't root up their useless grass that must be mowed, weedwacked, and fertilized and instead plant things that will actually feed them.  Many people complain about the cost of food but  tell me that they can't possibly raise food where they live because they only have an average sized yard.  They say it's too hard, to much work, and they don't know how to do it. Meanwhile they pay hundreds of dollars a month for the privilege to go to the health club and work out.  They could burn the same amount of calories weeding, hoeing, and digging in there garden, and in the end save those hard earned dollars.    Throw in a few fruit trees, some berry brambles, and maybe even a couple of laying hens and you would be surprised how much organic and practically free food you can produce.

Right now on barely 3/4 of an acre we have 3 raised beds, 5 apple trees, 2 peach trees, 2 pear trees, a medium sized patch planted in winter squash/zucchini/cucumbers/melons, 6 grape vines, a small strawberry patch, 2 herb gardens (one medicinal, one culinary), 2 elderberry bushes, a bunch of different berries brambles, 3 blueberry bushes, several beds of tomatoes and lettuce and carrots, a chicken coop with 11 chickens, and the garage with 20 rabbits.

We planted and built all of these things in just one spring following us moving in.  The fruit trees will not produce for another 2 to 3 years, the berries and grapes will produce next year, and the garden has been supplying us with food for our lunch dinners every night.  As  a side note my garden is not doing well at all this year due to unseasonably cold weather.  We are going to be planting at least 3 more fruit trees, currents, gooseberries, 2 more grapevines, and build up to six more raised beds.  With this setup not only will I be able to produce all of our canned veggies,canned fruit, jams, jellies, juice, and dried fruits for a full year for six people.  I will also be able to provide all the fresh fruits and veggies from spring to fall for our eating. 

From our 10 laying hens who will start laying next month we can expect about an egg a day from each of them from spring to fall and slightly less in the winter.  That is a total of 60 eggs per week!  That's right 60 eggs per week from 10 chickens.  And our chickens eat very little feed store food.  They get all the scraps from the house like sour milk, stale bread, leftover veggies and fruit, rice and beans.  They also get weeds, bugs and garden cast offs.  My eldest son will soon be in charge of the watering and feeding of the chickens.  From our rabbits we can supplement our meat budget with very little space expended.  They also eat our garden castoffs and dandelions greens. My eldest daughter is in charge of their care and feeding morning and night.  There is nothing our children love more than to go give the chickens their scraps, collect eggs or see the brand new baby bunnies.  They see everyday how we must be good caretakers of our animals and garden if we want to reap the rewards of fresh eggs or ripe tomatoes.  In this way the whole family participates in the productions of our food.

We spend maybe 1/2 hour per day in the garden doing things like watering/weeding/planting/and harvesting.  Animal care takes another 15 min to 1/2 hour per day depending on whats going on.  In my opinion it's worth with work to have organic fresh produce, meat and eggs.

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