I mentioned in my last post, that one of our goals, is to grow and preserve as much of our own food as possible. Obviously some planning is needed here. How much will we need? How much do I need to plant? How much will I need to preserve and store? How big does the garden need to be? Where will I store it?
My approach to all of this is not very profound. Common sense, mostly. I consider how much of a particular item or food group we eat each week, and then figure out how much of it we will need until next year's harvest comes in.
For example, if we want to eat a quart of green beans each week (two meals for the two of us), then obviously I'll need 52 quarts, whether fresh or preserved. If I can manage seven canner loads (7 quarts a load), then those 49 quarts will serve both our weekly needs when I can't get fresh, as well as having extra for company or other occasions.
Or fruit for breakfast. This year we should be able to eat fresh melon, strawberries, and figs from our garden in season. Blueberries too perhaps, although I didn't find the rabbiteyes particularly good for fresh eating (better for pancakes, muffins, or pie). In the next several years we can add raspberries and peaches to that. And pears, although I'll prefer those fresh pears and apples for snacks. When fresh fruit isn't in season, I need to consider how much to preserve. I am still in the discovery phase regarding how long I can count on fresh homegrown fruit, but for the sake of planning, I may want to assume I'll need eight months worth of preserved fruit, once all my fruit comes to bear. That means (!mental math calculations ahead!) if we want to eat a serving of fruit with breakfast, and we can get two breakfast's from a pint of canned fruit, I need 3 and 1/2 pints per week, or about 136 pints for the year. Or 68 quarts. I can further ask myself, do I want to supplement with something I can only purchase at the grocery, like grapefruit? If so, I need to put up less. Or I still may want the extra just in case.
Key to this is knowing how much to plant, which includes calculations for possible losses from to insects, birds, plant disease, or some other disastor. It's not an exact science and for this location I don't have that figured out yet. I do know from last summer's garden, that one green pepper plant isn't enough for a year's worth of peppers (frozen). Nor is a 75 foot row of green beans adequate for that one quart a week we'd like to eat. I know that four hills of cucumbers is just adequate for a year's worth of fresh cukes and pickles, but I have to consider that I'm down to my last jar of picckle relish and will need to make more this summer.
Where to store it all is another matter, and we're working on that too.
The challenge this year is that I still have a number of unknowns. I'm still learning about my soil, growing season, and garden yield for my little corner of the world. Then there's unexpected things, like the fact that only one pea in the row decided to grow this spring. Or things like never having planted potatoes before, I'm not entirely certain of what to expect. Nor what our need will be, especially if we switch our staple dinner starch to potatoes rather than brown rice.
In the end, this year will be one of experimentation. And I'm okay with that. I'm just happy to be doing it.