The Self-Sufficient Homestead: How Much to Plant for Every Age Group

The Self-Sufficient Homestead: How Much to Plant for Every Age Group

Calculating how much to grow is as important as what to grow when planning for your homestead this year.  With skyrocketing super market prices as well as questionable growing techniques by large food producers – most homesteaders look towards the ultimate goal of being able to grow as close to 100% of their required produce as possible.   With modern growing strategies such a container growing, vertical farming and making smart use of your available space, with some ingenuity and planning, reaching a status of self sufficiency is within reach.

Planning your yields for your planting efforts this coming year involves taking the time to sit down and calculate first what your family likes to eat, and then how much you need to grow.  Every family is different in their needs and that is also impacted by individual tastes of those you plan to be feeding.  If your family loves carrots, then you will want to plan enough to provide 12 months worth of them.   If your family hates zucchini, then it doesn’t make logical sense to grow the vegetable as it just takes up valuable growing space.

The other important consideration when planning to grow a year round supply of produce is what you strategy is going to be for having enough produce on hand during the winter months.   If you have no year round green house or growing facility, then having fresh lettuce in January in zone 4 won’t be feasible while vegetables like potatoes, carrots, onions and so forth ( typically root vegetables ) have a long storage time when kept in a cold room covered in loose sand.

This then also opens the discussion of a staggered or succession planting schedule which allows you to create a flow of harvestable fresh produce rather then it call coming ready to harvest at once.   In future articles I will dwell much deeper into these discussions but for today, let’s discuss the growing yield charts below which I broke down into age groups to further help in creating an accurate growing plan.

One last thing before we continue – these yield suggestions are based on what would best be interpreted as reasonable estimates for each vegetable.   This does not mean that a person should look at this chart and assume it is saying you should plant this much food for each category.

Homestead Garden Yield Calculator

Adult Requirements – Ages 14:55

For adults aged 14 to 55, there are numerous variables you will have to consider such as vegetable preference as well as appetite.  For example a 18 year old teenaged male with a large appetite will consumer far more than a petite 18 year female who happily lives on a small diet.    Subsequently, the following table for adults is the mean average for an annual target harvest of that specific vegetable.   For example, for carrots, a family with a mother, father, 17 year old son and 15 year old daughter, would be from 40 to 55 pounds.  If you family eats a lot of carrots, or you use them a lot in stews and soups, then you may want to increase that yield but you a least have a starting point to modify from.

I’ve also endeavored to create a realistic yield amount for each plant.  For example, corn calls for 25 to 50 ears per person per year.   This is shown per ear, but keep in mind your corn will be consumed as corn on the cob, or in nibblet / kernel form.    Based on a 2 month consumption period from day of harvest, as well as freezing the kernels for use over the winter, this yield chart essentially is saying 4 ears per month annually which is likely pretty accurate based on the North American diet.

Vegetable/Fruit 14-19 years 20-55 years
Apples 10-20 lbs 12.5-25 lbs
Beets 4-7 lbs 5-10 lbs
Berries 4-8 lbs 5-10 lbs
Broccoli 5-12.5 lbs 6.25-15 lbs
Cabbage 4-7 heads 5-9 heads
Carrots 5-10 lbs 6-12 lbs
Cauliflower 5-12.5 lbs 6.25-15 lbs
Corn 20-40 ears 25-50 ears
Cucumbers 3.75-7.5 lbs 4.5-9 lbs
Garlic 35-60 cloves 45-75 cloves
Green Beans 5-10 lbs 6-12 lbs
Green Leaf Lettuce 4-8 lbs 5-10 lbs
Green Onions 4.5-6 bunches 6-7.5 bunches
Leeks 3-5 lbs 4-6 lbs
Onions 3.75-7.5 lbs 4.5-9 lbs
Peas 4-8 lbs 5-10 lbs
Peppers 4-8 lbs 5-10 lbs
Potatoes 35-70 lbs 42-84 lbs
Pumpkins 3-4 pumpkins 4-5 pumpkins
Radishes 0.8-1.6 lbs 0.8-2 lbs
Romaine 4-8 lbs 5-10 lbs
Spinach 4-8 lbs 5-10 lbs
Sweet Potatoes 25-45 lbs 30-55 lbs
Tomatoes 10-20 lbs 12.25-25 lbs
Yams 25-45 lbs 30-55 lbs
Zucchini 3.5-7 lbs 4.2-8.4 lbs

Children (1-7 Years and 8-13 Years)

Vegetable/Fruit 1-7 years 8-13 years
Apples 5-10 lbs 7.5-15 lbs
Beets 2-4 lbs 3-5 lbs
Berries 2-4 lbs 3-6 lbs
Broccoli 2.5-5 lbs 3.75-8.75 lbs
Cabbage 2-4 heads 3-5 heads
Carrots 3-5 lbs 4-7 lbs
Cauliflower 2.5-5 lbs 3.75-8.75 lbs
Corn 10-20 ears 15-30 ears
Cucumbers 2.25-3.75 lbs 3-5.25 lbs
Garlic 15-25 cloves 25-40 cloves
Green Beans 3-5 lbs 4-7 lbs
Green Leaf Lettuce 2-4 lbs 3-6 lbs
Green Onions 1.5-3 bunches 3-4.5 bunches
Leeks 1-3 lbs 2-4 lbs
Onions 2.25-3.75 lbs 3-5.25 lbs
Peas 2-4 lbs 3-6 lbs
Peppers 2-4 lbs 3-6 lbs
Potatoes 21-35 lbs 28-56 lbs
Pumpkins 1-2 pumpkins 2-3 pumpkins
Radishes 0.4-0.8 lbs 0.6-1.2 lbs
Romaine 2-4 lbs 3-6 lbs
Spinach 2-4 lbs 3-6 lbs
Sweet Potatoes 15-25 lbs 20-35 lbs
Tomatoes 5-10 lbs 7-15 lbs
Yams 15-25 lbs 20-35 lbs
Zucchini 2.1-3.5 lbs 2.8-4.9 lbs

Adults (14-19 Years and 20-55 Years)

Seniors (55+ Years)

Vegetable/Fruit 55+ years
Apples 7.5-15 lbs
Beets 4-7 lbs
Berries 4-7 lbs
Broccoli 5-8.75 lbs
Cabbage 4-6 heads
Carrots 5-8 lbs
Cauliflower 5-8.75 lbs
Corn 15-30 ears
Cucumbers 3.75-6 lbs
Garlic 35-50 cloves
Green Beans 5-8 lbs
Green Leaf Lettuce 4-7 lbs
Green Onions 4.5-6 bunches
Leeks 3-4 lbs
Onions 3.75-6 lbs
Peas 4-7 lbs
Peppers 4-7 lbs
Potatoes 28-56 lbs
Pumpkins 3-4 pumpkins
Radishes 0.8-1.6 lbs
Romaine 4-7 lbs
Spinach 4-7 lbs
Sweet Potatoes 20-35 lbs
Tomatoes 10-18 lbs
Yams 20-35 lbs
Zucchini 3.5-5.6 lbs


The Logic of Planting

One of the key principles and is really a true form of art is planting at a staggered pace so that the crop that grows provides as consistent of continual supply as possible for your homestead.  So many homesteaders and gardeners head out to their gardens / plots in early May and plant everything at once which results in everything being ready at once.  It becomes a feast to famine situation and typically results in a large amount of produce going to waste.   Root vegetables such as carrots and potatoes are far more forgiving – but items such as lettuce and peppers have a much shorter shelf life as well as time frame that requires them to be harvested.

Called succession planting – this technique requires you to take into consideration the time from the expected first early harvest to the last harvest of the season.  You can further fine tune this strategy by taking into account the listed maturity times for each of the seeds in a specific vegetable you plant – as well as using a mix of early, mid and late season varieties.  I plan on writing far more extensively on this topic in the coming weeks.

The easiest way to approach this is to work on one vegetable crop at a time – looking at your seeds maturation rate and then on a sheet of paper map out a time line of when each will be ready which will give you your base plan for how and when to start planting what.

Storing Your Harvest

The other important consideration for your homestead food plan is to take into consideration your storage and preserving strategy – but ideally a strategy of providing as much of a flow of fresh consumable produce for as many months of the year is the goal, and then using preserving techniques to stretch through the winter months where no new flow of produce is coming in ( assuming you don’t have a year round greenhouse.  )

A root cellar is a must for any serious homesteader and like its name implies, is used to store root vegetables like potatoes, carrots, beets and onions.  Any produce where the consumable part of the plant grows below the surface is at home in your root cellar so other vegetables like sweet potatoes, turnips, parsnips etc and all be stored for extended periods of time in a properly set up cellar.

There a variety of techniques that you can use in your root cellar to keep your stored roots for months on end.  For those of us old enough, most can remember grandparents having a large bin of sand in their root room that the produced was kept covered in.   More modern techniques include storing your potatoes and such in straw in breathable bins such as wood crates.   The key take away on this subject at a basic level is to only store non-blemished roots and do your best to not let them touch each other in storage.

In a future section and contained articles I’ll be going far more in depth on this subject including an entire extensive guide to canning and preserving.

Until then, the game is a foot with the new growing season just around the corner and time to start planning your strategy for how much you need to grow this year to feed your family.

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