A quick Homesteading lesson

From the Konkoly family garden.

BeansI decided to try something new this year. After researching and writing three post-apocalyptic, prepper-themed books in a row, I started to grasp the sheer scope and effort required to raise enough food on your land to survive without supermarkets and 2-day Amazon prime delivery of freeze-dried food buckets. I won’t go into the details of my broader “awakening” here. Instead, I’ll share one stark example.

I’ve never planted dry beans (beans suitable for drying and long-term storage) before, so I wanted to get a handle on the difficulty involved and general yields. I planted a 1.5ft x 6 ft row of Cannellini bean plants, spaced according to the seed packet recommendation. 9 square feet. I wasn’t planting for a big harvest…this was a test run. The results?

Growing the plants proved to be effort free. We saw a small amount of bug damage and light spotting on the leaves, but the pods looked healthy throughout the summer.

Yield: 9 square feet produced 2 cups of beans or .22 cups per square feet. 

Lesson Learned: Depending on the availability of other protein sources, to provide 8-10 cups of beans per week for a family of four, we would need to plant nearly 2,000 square feet of bean plants!  I’m not even sure my 2-cup yield would be enough to sow a field that large.

Randy Powers of Practical Tactical (co-author of Practical Prepping:No Apocalypse Required) wasn’t kidding when he said it takes about an acre of land to feed ONE person for an entire year. I’ve seen estimates lower than one acre using “square foot gardening” and “vertical gardening,” but the number of plants required will remain the same.

Homesteading will not be easy, but it’ll sure go smoother if you start now. Start small and build your experience level—one season at a time.

 

6 Comments

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6 responses to “A quick Homesteading lesson

  1. ethicaorator

    Kudos on experimenting. You can get bigger yields by planting symbiotic plants. Corn sucks nitrogen, beans (legumes) fix it. Squash will not compete with either. This is often called “three sisters”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Sisters_%28agriculture%29 explains it beyond my cursory mention.

  2. You say you had to do little. And that is true but it is var select. The particular bean you planted is not known for high yields so search out bean variety’s that are known for large yields. For instance I garden in one of the most difficult places on Earth. Alaska ..hard shelled beans very difficult because of the length of growing time before winter sets in but after careful research I grew a var called Coco Rollo and in a very small place I had high yields. In 75 days from twenty three plants I harvested 30 cups of beans. Can you imagine if id planted more? Selection is the key.

    • That’s incredible, especially up north. 30 cups is an amazing yield. I grew Cannellini because the kids like them. I can see how carefully selecting a better variety would prove invaluable. Thank you for sharing that.

      • Michael

        Also while putting in very little effort after planting can be a good thing in gardening much less homesteading its generally not. Building up your soil with compost, proper mulching (that’s the big thing I learned this year), soil amendments, companion planting. I’ve always laughed at my prepper friends who think it will be so easy just throw some seeds in a hole. I’ve only been doing it for a few years seriously myself and while I’ve learned a lot I know even with the space I’m not up to feeding my family.

        I’ve learned much from books but the best place has been Jack Spirko’s The Survival Podcast. Great info on growing just about anything from a prepper point of view. Good luck with your gardening. I’ll be checking out your books on Kindle

      • Thanks, Michael. I agree that homesteading will take FAR more effort, especially if your goal is to reach a food independence level. We’ve built up the soil with our compost, but mulching is not an area we’ve investigated…thanks for that tip. The idea of companion planting is fantastic, especially with the relatively soil neutral benefits of using something like the previous poster mentioned…”The three sisters.” I appreciate you checking out my books. Writing them has been a learning experience…there’s more to writing that entertainment.

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