Can a backyard greenhouse grow enough food to feed your family?
Previous Post Next Post

Can a backyard greenhouse grow enough food to feed your family?

Imagine strolling into your backyard, breathing in the fresh air, surrounded by abundant homegrown fruits, vegetables, and herbs. This simple act of gardening holds the potential to grow your connection with nature and be a vital resource for feeding your family with fresh, nutritious, and organic produce right at your doorstep. A backyard greenhouse can transform your garden into a year-round food oasis and reduce reliance on grocery stores. Does the real question then become, can a greenhouse grow enough food to meet the daily nourishment needs of your family? In this blog post, we will dive into the essential factors to consider while planning and maintaining a greenhouse, including its size, the choice of crops, growing methods, and the efficient use of space, to ensure that your backyard can flourish into a self-sufficient food haven for your family. So let's journey towards sustainable living and a greener future together.


1. Backyard Greenhouses for Food Self-Sufficiency

Achieving food self-sufficiency is an essential step towards becoming more sustainable and independent. Backyard greenhouses provide an excellent opportunity to grow various nutritious plants, ensuring a continuous supply of fresh vegetables for your family. Here are some points to consider:

- A greenhouse size of around 400 sq ft (20' x 20') should feed a family of four, eliminating the need for grocery store visits.
- A well-managed 30' x 100' greenhouse can produce enough for a dozen families, as mentioned by Horti Generation.
- Backyard greenhouses allow for year-round cultivation, enabling families to supply fresh produce consistently.
- Growing methods, such as soil-based systems or hydroponics, can be chosen based on your experience, budget, or the plants you intend to grow.
By investing in a backyard greenhouse, families can take control of their food sources and ensure they always have access to high-quality, nutritious produce. [1]


2. Planning Your Crisis Garden Setup

Planning your crisis garden setup is crucial to ensure a consistent and adequate supply of vegetables for your family during uncertain times. To set up a crisis garden effectively, consider the following points:

- Determine the types and quantities of vegetables needed: Assess your family's consumption patterns to calculate how much each crop is required.
- Allocate suitable garden space: Make sure enough space is dedicated to each crop according to their growth requirements.
- Choose the suitable crops: Categorize your vegetables into staple, nutrient, and supplemental crops to ensure a balanced diet.
- Optimize the layout: Arrange plants to maximize space, sunlight, and airflow.
- Plan for consecutive planting cycles: This technique helps you maintain a consistent supply of fresh vegetables throughout the year.

By following these steps and adjusting to your needs, you can effectively establish a crisis garden to support your family during challenging times. 


3. Three Categories of Crops for Feeding Your Family

Understanding the right mix of crops is essential for self-sustainability in a backyard greenhouse. To provide adequate nutrition and variety for your family, consider dividing the crops into three main categories:

1. Staple Crops: These are the calorie-dense, easy-to-grow, and storable crops such as potatoes, squash, beans, cabbages, and onions. Consuming these crops primarily ensures food supply throughout the year, and they take up a sizable portion of your gardening space.

2. Nutrient Crops: Comprising primarily of greens like kale, chard, spinach, and arugula, these crops provide essential vitamins and minerals for overall health. They require less space and can be grown year-round, often with surplus stored and frozen for future use.

3. Supplemental Crops: This category consists of additional crops that add variety and flavor to meals, including fruits, herbs, and spices. Although not essential for survival, they enhance the quality of your diet and make the eating experience more enjoyable. 


4. Essentials of Staple, Nutrient, and Supplemental Crops

To ensure your backyard greenhouse can effectively feed your family year-round, the cultivation and balance of three crop categories – staple crops, nutrient crops, and supplemental crops – become essential factors to consider.

- Staple crops: Primarily providing most of your calorie intake, these crops are typically easy to grow and store. Examples include potatoes, squash, beans, cabbage, and onions.
- Nutrient crops: Packed with essential nutrients to maintain proper health, these crops are primarily greens, like kale, chard, spinach, and arugula. These are typically harvested fresh and may sometimes be stored by freezing or other methods.
- Supplemental crops: These crops add variety to your diet and may be decorative or serve specific purposes in your garden. Examples include various herbs, edible flowers, and other plants which might have some medicinal or culinary benefit.

Striking a balance between these three groups of crops enables you to make the most of your garden space and grow a consistent, diverse array of products to meet your family's health and nutrition needs. 


5. How Much Space Do You Need to Feed Your Family?

Determining the space required to feed your family depends on several factors, such as the number of family members, dietary preferences, and the specific crops grown. For example, the Old Farmer's Almanac suggests that an 800-square-foot garden (20 feet by 40 feet) would suffice for a non-vegetarian family of four. Here are some key points to consider:

- The type of crops: Some plants require more space, while others have a higher yield in a smaller area.
- Climate and location: The availability of sunlight and suitable weather conditions for crop growth plays a role in determining the size of the garden.
- Growing techniques: Efficient, space-saving techniques can help to increase productivity within a smaller area. [2]


6. Yield Per 10-foot Row of Vegetables: A Quick Guide

When it comes to growing vegetables, understanding how much yield you can expect from a 10-foot row is crucial for planning your garden space efficiently. This quick guide will help you have a clear idea of what to anticipate:

- Leafy Greens: A 10-foot row of leafy greens, such as spinach or kale, can produce up to 30 pounds throughout the season.
- Root Vegetables: For root crops like carrots and beets, expect a yield of up to 20 pounds per 10-foot row.
- Vine Crops: A 10-foot row of squash or cucumbers can produce around 15-20 pounds.

These yields may vary depending on soil quality, sunlight, and plant health. However, following good gardening practices and plant spacing recommendations, you can optimize your vegetable harvest and ensure you grow enough food for your family. 


7. Making the Most of Small Garden Spaces

Making the most of small garden spaces is crucial for a productive backyard greenhouse. Gardening within a limited area can be challenging, but several strategies can help you maximize your harvests:

- Vertical planting: Utilize trellises, hanging baskets, or wall-mounted containers to grow vertically and save space.
- Succession planting: Plant crops with different maturity times so that one variety can be harvested and replaced with another continuously.
- Intensive planting: Optimize your planting patterns by arranging plants in triangles or hexagons rather than rows, which reduces the amount of space wasted on walkways.
- Container gardening: Grow plants in pots or containers, which can be placed on patios, balconies, or indoors to maximize growing space.

Planning and creativity are vital to cultivating a bountiful harvest in limited garden spaces. [3]


8. Tried and Tested Growing Techniques

Implementing tried and tested growing techniques can significantly improve the yields of your backyard greenhouse, allowing you to grow enough food to sustain your family. Some proven methods to help optimize your greenhouse productivity include:

- Intensive planting: Growing plants closer together maximizes space usage and reduces water evaporation, resulting in healthier, more productive plants.
- Crop rotation: Rotating your crops prevents depletion of soil nutrients while reducing disease and pest pressures.
- Companion planting: Growing certain plants together can improve plant health, repel pests, and enhance flavor.
- Vertical gardening: Utilizing trellises and vertical supports maximizes growing space, allowing you to grow more food in a smaller area.
- Succession planting: Continuously planting new crops once an existing crop has been harvested ensures a consistent supply of fresh produce.
- Soil management: Maintaining healthy, well-draining, and nutrient-rich soil is crucial for productive plant growth.
- Regular pruning: Pruning encourages plant growth and prevents diseases by promoting airflow.

Incorporating these techniques in your greenhouse increases your chances of successfully feeding your family with homegrown produce. 


9. Year-round Gardening for a Continuous Harvest

With a well-planned and creative approach, year-round gardening can provide your family with a continuous harvest of fresh produce. Utilizing a backyard greenhouse, an effective strategy for year-round gardening can be achieved with the following key points:

- Focus on growing vegetables that suit the current season, like brassica and allium family members for cooler months, and tomatoes, bell peppers, and cucumbers in summer
- Stagger your plantings every two to three weeks to extend the harvest window and ensure a continuous supply of fresh vegetables
- Use container gardening, trellis systems, and even upside-down planters to maximize the available space in your greenhouse
- Consider artificial lighting to support plant growth during seasons with less sunlight
- Learn about manual pollination techniques, such as using cotton buds or oscillating fans, to compensate for the lack of natural pollinators during specific periods

By incorporating these strategies, you can achieve a sustainable and uninterrupted harvest for your family throughout the year. 


10. Harvesting and Storing Your Garden Produce.

Harvesting and storing your garden produce from a backyard greenhouse is crucial in ensuring you can provide enough food to feed your family. To effectively utilize your greenhouse space for family sustenance, consider the following:

• Focus on staple crops like potatoes, squash, beans, cabbages, and onions, as they are calorie-dense, easy to grow, and storable.
• Don't neglect nutrient crops such as kale, chard, spinach, and arugula, as they provide essential vitamins and minerals for a healthy diet.
• Incorporate supplemental crops that may not be calorie-dense but offer other benefits such as flavor, vitamins, or pollination benefits.

"Assuming 75 to 200 pounds per person that translates to: Yield per 10-foot row: 10 to 20 pounds" - The Old Farmer's Almanac

You can ensure a steady flow of fresh produce throughout the growing season by employing a mix of early, mid, and late varieties of your chosen crops. Additionally, learning proper storage techniques, such as canning, freezing, and drying, will enable you to preserve your harvest for the colder months and maintain a year-round supply of homegrown food for your family. [4]

Related Posts

Previous Post Next Post
Back to blog