Cash or garden? : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

We've started planting the garden and I'm not sure how big to make it. If it is modest I can keep working two jobs, if large I can keep one, if massive I'd have to leave both jobs. We have plenty of seeds for a massive one and still storing enough for next year in case our seed-harvesting is a bust.

Which seems best? I figure I can buy fresh vegetables and can them myself for less than the cost of growing them, once loss of income is figured into it. But not sure how much I want to rely on that. I realize that the canned goods in the stores are cheaper still, but it would have to be a real emergency before I'd eat much of that. I'd rather store food that I'll appreciate regardless of Y2K results.

Giving up both jobs won't strain me economically this year, plenty of savings for the day-to-day stuff. But a nice cash reserve in a safety deposit box is a good Y2K prep too.

-- Steve Hartzler (, May 10, 1999


If the worst case be that banks aren't open, How you gonna get that money out of the saftey deposit box?

-- Johnny (, May 10, 1999.

Keep it small. Worry about saving seeds. Prepare for a big garden next year. You can still buy food to last till next summer.

-- FLAME AWAY (, May 10, 1999.

Johny, I can do fine without access to that cash. It is my "insurance" money. If the bank doors stay closed too long then the concept of cash will change and that paper won't be valuable anyway. I see that as a possibility, but unlikely. I think having cash in the deposit box is safer than having it at home.

-- Steve Hartzler (, May 10, 1999.

My recomendation is to do whatever feels right to you. If you need an extended vacation and can afford it.... plant an acre and enjoy the wealth of harvest it will provide. HOWEVER if we are speaking of economy-- both financially, and physically, it,s a faifly clear choice. T>E>O>T>W>A>W>K>I is by no means imminent. A 10 on the yourdon scale is highly unlikely, despite the doom and gloom you will hear on occassion around here. Dont panic. You should be able to grow enough vegetables for a family of 5 on a space 100 x 50. I personally believe normalcy should be the key word in our every day preps. In case of emegency, the money you make at one of your jobs over the next 6 months could be the difference between having lots of food, but a skinny bankroll, which despite what you hear WILL be important. And if the S#!T doesnt hit the fan youll be thankful you kept your head while preparing for the possibility of the worst. Food is cheap, and when your real hungry-- canned food is excellent. Decide with a critical mind what is best for you. The implications, no matter what the outcome, are substantial indeed. Good luck. out.....

-- Charlie P. (, May 10, 1999.

50 x 100 feet? You can feed a family on a lot less land than this. It is not the area that you have but the knowledge and the experience. Get started now with just a tiny but intensely cultivated area, then expand.

see our non commercial "how to grow your own food site"

this will provide you with the information and benefit of other's experience.

-- christopher verdant (, May 10, 1999.

Anyone who is contemplating living off of a garden may want to really consider how much space it takes to feed a family of 4 or 2 or any other number. In many parts of the country you only have one planting and need to consider canning or freezing to make it through the year until the next season. For instance it takes about 12 lbs of seed potatoes to plant 100 feet which will reallistically yield about 60 to 100 lbs of potatoes. Potatoes are a good crop, they store well and most people like them. Depending on how much you like them you will want to grow at least one row per person in the family. A family of five therefore requires five rows. Do a similar calculation for onions - one row per two or three people. Then plan how many green beans etc. etc. One food storage program I read said that you should plan on putting up about 300 quarts of food per person. Consider that a row of green beans will yield about 12 +or- quarts. How many quarts (rows) for that. The row takes up about 3 - 4 feet. At that rate you can put 12 to 17 rows of crops in. If you progress through the list of vegetables that you want to grow to eat and preserve then consider that you might like some fruit = apples, blueberries, raspberries etc etc you can see that you can effectively utilize more space then you initially thought when the grocery store was available.

-- rod (, May 10, 1999.

I'd say that you ought to stick with the small to meduium sized garden. Having the cash handy might be very useful at some later time. Even if things only get as bad as the Great Depression, you may need to pay your local taxes so as to not lose your house. Lots of people had paid up houses, and couldn't pay the taxes; they were kicked out.

As for the fellow who thinks that one can't feed 5 people on a 50x100 plot, it surely can be done.

You can't do it with conventional rows - you have to use the intensive growing method with beds (raised if possible), and stagger your crops so as to get in multiple crops for some of the veggies. You can also get some plants to grow vertically, so as to save space.

I recall reading an article, (but can't recall where), that some university had tested the intensive method with raised beds, and they were able to produce enough food for 27 (!) people with ONE guy working 40hrs a week on ONE ACRE of land. Now, we may not be able to do as well as they did, but it's hugely better than space-wasting conventional rows method.

-- Bill (, May 10, 1999.

I'll agree that you can grow more with raised beds and planting intensively. Doble dig the beds, use a lot of manure etc. You can plant vining crops vertically, plant lettuce and carrots intensively etc. but a row of potatoes takes up space, green beans take up space, cabbage takes space and you can't go up with some of these things. Again if you decide to grow some apples, even the dwarf varieties take space. Raspberries take space. etc. etc. I live in the upper Midwest and unless you have a heated greenhouse you just can't get succession plantings of many vegetables. The better gardener you are the more you will get -- but it still takes space and I doubt that one in ten gardeners can feed a family of five on 5000 square feet of space for a year when the grocery stores are closed.

-- rod (, May 11, 1999.

I have no idea how small of a garden could feed us all if we planted it correctly. But we have plenty of room and it seems easier to spread it out rather than cramp it. Any advantages to "intensive" gardening for people who have plenty of space?

-- Steve Hartzler (, May 11, 1999.

Have you thought of enlisting help to take care of two big gardens? Perhaps a neighbor or friends that don't have anyplace to garden...then share the produce. Many hands make light work. Even if you don't get lots of produce you will have worked the land and have less weeds to deal with next year. Money in the bank is nice but if there isn't food to buy it's glitter dims. Rather be eating my home canned produce than standing in a line at a shelter.

-- MUTTI (windance, May 11, 1999.

Get a book called Square Foot Gardening

I did about 40 square feet last summer and had so much food that I couldn't believe it. I'd never plant those long rows again and I've been gardening for 35 years.

The plants loved growing together. No bugs, no blight, just a beautiful crop. Don't be afraid to mix smelly flowers like marigolds and herbs among your veggies. They make great neighbors. :)

Gee Gee

-- GeeGee (, May 11, 1999.

Steve, the size of your garden is dependent upon where you live (climate) Here in Florida I plant and harvest almost continually. When I lived in the Cascade Mtns of Wash State, I planted once and hoped that I got it in before frost. I was usually out picking winter squash with a flashlight due to oncoming trost that night. When I moved down here, I planted my winter squash and to my amazement I had to harvest in June. I have learned I don't even plant it until early August now. A well tended small garden will provide better quality and quantity than a large garden full of weeds and bugs. My current garden is about 20/50. However, that does not include corn and water melons. And just to tick everyone off, we are eating tomatoes, okra, zucchini, cabbage, onions, turnips, baby carrots, baby beets, califlower and egg plant. Cukes and beans will probably start next week For y2k I have bought lots of canned veggies. And I have canned about 400 pts of meat. But barring disaster in the garden we pretty much eat out of it year around. The winter crop of onions and garlic are all hanging up on the porch and drying and will get sacked up in net bags this weekend and put into a cool dry, dark closet. This is not y2k preparation, its a way of life. I garden more for the soul than the stomach. My adivce, if you are an inexperienced gardner, is to start small. It is a learned skill and its different whereever you live. Moving a garden from one place to another on your own property can make drastic changes in production. Buy those canned veggies and hope that you don't need them. I would also like to say to everyone, that you need to get your canning jars and lids now. They are one of the first items to disappear off the shelf when people percieve threat to food. In 1974 with the gas crises, you couldn't buy jars or lids. I am still using the same jars I bought in the 60s.

Like to eat? Better set some food aside.


-- Taz (Tassie, May 11, 1999.


There are several advantages to the intensive methods such as the Square Foot Gardening method. Less weeding, watering, digging, etc. Space is definitely needed for certain crops as already mentioned, but wherever possible, try to employ the intensive methods. It'll save you time and money. I would suggest that you plant the season-long storable foods that you plant and pretty much leave alone until harvest in one area (potatoes, onions, soybeans, etc.) and the succession crops and continual harvest crops in another area that is more in line with the intensive methods (carrots, lettuce, cucumbers, broccoli, tomatoes, radishes, etc). Most of your time will be spent there.

I agree with the earlier suggestion. Start small and expand next year with the seeds you've purchased if you need too. I wouldn't quite a job just yet. There's a good chance you won't need to feed your family entirely from what you grow. But being able to supplement your food supply from what you grow is a definite advantage for any difficult economic conditions. And if you plan it right, you can probably maintain your garden on just a half hour every morning (once it's established).

If things really fall apart next year due to Y2K or otherwise, then you probably won't have both jobs to worry about anyway. Plenty of time on your hands to expand your garden.

By the way, do you have available resources to feed your soil in addition to seeds? Composting? Green manures (cover crops)? Local farmer's excess manure?

Just some things to think about. Hope it helps some.

-- David (, May 11, 1999.


Might also choose to think about lessons learned from the California gold rush days ... those who sold the supplies ... picks and shovels, etc., often did quite well.

You might find the "extra's" in the garden could earn you more.

Think career alternatives ... as a backup strategy.


-- Diane J. Squire (, May 11, 1999.

Excellent point Diane!

Potential items to sell: surplus veggies, seeds/inoculants, compost, floating row covers, cold box materials, Hot Pepper Wax (organic insecticide), Safer Fungicidal Soap, seed starting trays, lights and soiless mixes, Mason Jars/Lids, etc.

Potential items to rent: tiller, shovels, cultivators, pressure canner, etc.

-- David (, May 11, 1999.

I decided to keep my garden of modest proportions this year and spend more time improving the soil by hauling in loads and loads of compost and manure while gasoline is still widely available and cheap (just got a big mucky load of fresh manure last night; splat!). I figure I can haul in several years' worth of fertility which will be like a food bank account in my soil; if times get rough I can draw on that account for a long time without depleting my land.

Those with really large areas to garden might want to consider idling large plots under a sheet compost like leaves. Let the land rest this year, let the worms till for you, let the leaves rot in place and then just plant down through the rotted leaves next year. On this see Gene Logsdon's excellent book, "The Contrary Farmer's Invitation to Gardening."

-- David Palm (, May 11, 1999.

Ditto on "Square Foot Gardening" by Mel Bartholomew! We're doing a 4'x6' test garden using this method and are very pleased. It has been extremely easy to care for, weeding has been almost a non-event. We're not gardeners, but have tried to have a little garden a couple of times in the past. They were pretty much flops! This method has already surpassed our earlier attempts. My husband is already planning on adding another bed or two for next fall.

Another book I just picked up at the library is: "60-Minute Garden" by Jeff Ball. I haven't read it yet, just flipped thru but it looks really good, too. It also has many construction/how to plans for the raised beds and accessories. Happy Gardening!

-- Linda M. (, May 11, 1999.

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