Bountiful Harvests Grown on Small Plots

Recently, our publisher put up an inspiring post about an urban garden in Detroit on our book’s marketing page. That post garnered over 250,000 likes and loves and wonderful comments from so many people. As you might imagine, it also brought out a comparative few “experts” who questioned the bountiful harvests grown on small plots.

Day's Harvest

Day’s Harvest

Imagine our shock and dismay when a few wizards even told us it was impossible to grow our year’s worth of vegetables in our relatively small garden, something we’ve been doing for over 4 decades.

Anybody who has ever grown a vegetable has a good idea of what a single plant will provide let alone an entire garden. Anybody who has ever grown a cucumber or squash (think zucchini) and begged the plant to stop producing understands how prolific they can be. The result of such a bountiful harvest is that August is a very hectic month.

Freezing and Canning

We always breathe a sigh of relief once the hectic month of August is past. For anyone trying to grow and preserve as much of their own fruits and vegetables as possible we’re sure you can understand what we mean. And for those who have never actually pursued this endeavor but hope to some day, well now you know. August is brutally busy with harvesting, canning, freezing, drying and lets not forget planting the fall garden. But that’s a topic for another day. Back to preserving. Many days more than one item is put by. The picture we’ve included with this post illustrates what we mean.

One Day’s Harvest

This was a day’s harvest (August 27, 2021). On this day corn, green and wax beans as well as Lima beans were blanched and put in the freezer, blackberry jelly was canned and a large kettle of tomatoes ( 30 pounds worth) was cooked, strained and boiled down for spaghetti sauce that was canned the next day. But by this date, a wide array of fruits and vegetables had already been frozen including peas, broccoli, strawberries and about 40 pounds of blueberries. Our pantry shelves are quickly filling up too with freshly canned sauces, jams, jellies and juices that include vegetable juice, blueberry, currant, rhubarb and even strawberry juices.

Although it’s much too soon yet, our root cellar will eventually be fully stocked with potatoes, carrots, onions, leeks, cabbage, and for the first time, apples from our orchard.

Small Gardens Grow Lots of Food

Don’t for a minute listen and be swayed that it takes a lot of land to grow a garden. It most definitely does not! Whether you choose to plant a few containers to supplement your diet or till a small patch of ground for year round goodness, that’s your choice. You will be amazed at the productivity of whatever you choose to plant.

2021 Garden

2021 Garden

In our book The Self-Sufficient Backyard: For the Independent Homesteader, we go into detail on what we plant for 2 people. What vegetables, what quantities and what we expect for yields. There are charts for various vegetables that include growing information as well as approximate yields so you can extrapolate the information depending on your likes and dislikes based on the number of people in your family. The information we provide is a starting point and you can refine through the years as you get more experience.

Once August is past, there’s still canning and freezing to do but the onslaught is over and we can rest easy that we’ve survived another hectic August. Is all the preserving a lot of work? You bet. Is it worth it? Absolutely!!! We’re exhausted by the end of the month but filled with satisfaction that our larder is well stocked and we’re in a fine position to feast all winter on the fruits and vegetables of our labor.

Become Self-Reliant!

Why not become a little bit more self-reliant by growing a few veggies? I know winter isn’t even here yet but it won’t be long before snow flies, seed catalogs come in the mail for next year’s garden and thoughts of garden layouts occupy our thoughts for spring planting. There is no better time than now to start planning and preparing for a garden for next year. Now is the time to till the soil, perhaps plant a green manure/cover crop and get ready to pop in some seeds for spring planting.

Until next time, keep the dream alive! We wish you a great day!

Ron and Johanna

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2 Responses to Bountiful Harvests Grown on Small Plots

  1. Kate says:

    Your garden looks like it’s flourishing and providing some very nice looking veggies. Our current garden is the smallest I’ve had since I first started almost 30 years ago. Our very small urban subdivision lot is intensively planted with half as a food forest (cherries, apples, haskaps, raspberries, elderberry, red and black currants, herbs, flowers for pollinators etc.) and the other half is raised beds for vegetables and a small greenhouse. We still manage to produce enough veg to fill a freezer and stock shelves with preserves to help with the winter feast. Succession planting for the veg. and lots of careful pruning of the fruit helps keep it under control (mostly). A kind neighbour lets me plant any seedling overflow in her garden so I make sure to plant extra for her and flowers for cutting which keeps everyone happy. I also volunteer with a seed saving group on a farm outside the city and have a small plot there. All this to say there are garden opportunities everywhere if folks seek them out.
    Thanks for sharing photos of the bounty 🙂

    • Ron & Johanna Melchiore says:

      Hello Kate. Sounds like you are doing a fantastic job of not only utilizing your space efficiently and supplementing your food, but you are a wonderful example for anybody that passes by and sees what you have been up to. Good job!

      As you note, there are techniques to utilize to squeeze more production out of a plot and there are many different methods to plant a seed if people choose to do it.

      Regarding the original post I mentioned from my publisher and some of the negative comments people made, someone like yourself who has experience would just shake their head. They just have no clue. Thanks for the comment Kate! Keep up the good work and stay safe.

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