dvlucke
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6 people, 12 crops - What Would You Grow?

So here is the scenario. You are a group of six people. You all live on different properties in the same city. You all have some kind of growing space, but it varies. One might have a very large backyard open to using all of it, one may only get full sun on a 10 x 8 ft patch, one may only be able to grow in large pots. Point being, the total grow space is fractured and diverse. Each of the six people will grow two crops, and all six will be sharing all the harvests equally. The goal is to feed everyone exclusively from these gardens. Herbs are free, they don't count as a crop. You don't have to choose 12 crops, you have 12 total "slots" available, but could use up multiple slots for a single crop if desired. What would you grow?

So far I'm thinking:
1. Greens (Kales and Collards. I think all greens should count as one crop, except maybe turnips since you get a root also)
2. Winter Squash x 2
3. Potatoes
4. Flint corn x 2
5. Tomatoes
6. Beans
7. Carrots (Can beets and turnips be included in this 1 "crop"?)
8. Cabbages x 2
9. Peppers (Bell and Hot)

My choices of using two slots for squash, corn, and cabbages is due to those crops needing a lot of space to get a lot of harvest. Real world scenario, you could probably take your double plot of corn and squash and get beans as a free crop by doing a three sisters sort of thing. But I'm trying to be conservative.

I'm growing in Detroit, Michigan, so if you want to give advice awesome, but if you just want to play the game for your area, I'd still love to hear what you'd choose.

Peter1142
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Re: 6 people, 12 crops - What Would You Grow?

Corn seems like a bad choice. It takes up a lot of space and it is 0.99$ a pound in season.

Winter squash takes a ton of space, even bush varieties rarely stay bush, though home grown winter squash is worth the space for me. Zucchini would yield much better, you can freeze enough for the entire winter from only a couple of plants.

Beets for roots is also not a very efficient use of space, but you can grow beets and get both greens and roots if you like them, and then it becomes much more efficient.

Definitely plant some good pole beans like Fortex. Ace peppers produce tons for me, I would definitely recommend a good high yield early cold tolerant pepper variety like Ace. Very space efficient.

You should also do Fall brassicas and greens to replace your summer crops. If you start right now you could do some fast spinach or other greens before the summer crops.
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JayPoc
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Re: 6 people, 12 crops - What Would You Grow?

Kind of a fun thought exercize, but obviously impractical and not even close to "doable". Plus, you wouldn't want anyone to devote half of their plot to greens, say. What would you do with that plot during the summer?

I think the way to do it would be to work seasonally. Everyone do 1 crop at a time over their entire plot, then depending on the crops chosen you can do 2 or 3 different things over the course of the year.

i.e. Fred does kale in his entire garden in the spring, then zuchinni in the summer, then collards in the fall. Marge does lettuce in the spring, then tomatoes into the fall, and maybe another round of lettuce if time permits. Joe does broccoli and then beans, and so on.

I actually have something alive year round. The trick is to plan it out, and start seedlings ahead of the anticipated plant date. I often pull up the remains of the spring plants and put in well started summer stuff in the same spot on the same day!

Peter1142
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Re: 6 people, 12 crops - What Would You Grow?

I'm not quite sure how people who plant 3 full crops, in a Northern climate. There just isnt the season. The Spring season is typically only about 1.5 months long, from frozen unusable ground to time to plant the summer stuff. Not enough time to grow anything but greens in a spot slated for a summer crop. Frost comes in late October to put an end to the summer stuff, which is generally still producing nicely through the Fall and definitely no reason to pull up productive plants, at which point there is not enough sun or heat to grow much of anything, definitely not the season to start something freshly sown in the ground. The best you can really do is plant a spring crop followed by a fall crop started in the summer, or a good summer crop maybe interspersed with some greens. The idea I have read about, of doing 3 succession plantings, has proven in my experience to be one of those things that sounds better than it works, at least in my garden.

I have grown chard and summer tolerant lettuces like Muir and Sparx in the summer without issue, and my neighbor grows kale all summer long. You can grow greens all summer if you want.
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JayPoc
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Re: 6 people, 12 crops - What Would You Grow?

I'm in zone 6 as well, at altitude...and it can definitely be done. For instance, right now I have a bunch of kale that has overwintered. It has start to take off here in this warm snap. It'll likely start to go to seed somewhere around the end of April or early May...perfect time to plant maters. I'll go back in with collards or kale when the tomatoes are done. I'm planting peas tomorrow, and they'll be completely finished in plenty of time for a summer crop of some sort. My onions usually bulb and die back around the end of June, and I'll grow beans there. It works...and I don't even have a proper greenhouse. I've built a little low tunnel on my porch. I have lettuces, and broccoli coming along nicely in containers on the porch. Can't put them in the ground yet...I don't doubt for one second will have a few more nights in the low 20s or below...lol.

Peter1142
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Re: 6 people, 12 crops - What Would You Grow?

My Sugar Snap Peas will not be finished until July. Definitely too late for a proper summer crop. What kind of peas are you planting? I will probably replace mine with Brussels Sprouts, started indoors, for a November harvest. Or just wait a few weeks and plant more Fall peas. That's true of most Spring plants, can be followed with a Fall crop of the same. Fall peas aren't very reliable though.

You are going to plant kale or collards around your last frost date, and get a crop out of them? That would not work here, there simply is not enough sun.

Johnny's has some excellent Fall and Winter growing information, and planting date guides. They are experts at this stuff.

https://www.johnnyseeds.com/t-winter-har ... chart.aspx

According to them, full grown kale requires 13 weeks and baby kale 6 weeks before what they call the persephone period of less than 10 hours sun a day, which here is 2-3 weeks after first frost (info available here https://aa.usno.navy.mil/data/docs/Dur_OneYear.php .) So no time after the summer crops for anything according to them, unless you pull them up early.

Detroit is going to have an even shorter season than here....

Of course, it is possible to maximize the season with overwintering or indoor starts, but even then I can't imagine that helping much transplanting something out a few weeks before the growth season is over. I am really glad I found that Johnny's stuff, it was very helpful in understanding the sunlight requirements for Fall and Winter gardening.
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JayPoc
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Re: 6 people, 12 crops - What Would You Grow?

I definitely get a little more sun (longer days) than you. Our average last frost somewhere around May 10, and our first frost is usually right around Halloween...maybe a tad earlier. I grow super snappy peas. Started now I'll be picking them in late May and they'll be spent before June is over. I try to plant my fall greens in mid to late August...sometimes as late as September. They grow great for a while, I get a couple pickings, then they slow way down. The kale pretty much always survives the winter....the collards are hit or miss. I usually lose most of my tomatoes to disease before frost gets them. I fight that battle with a little succession planting.

But we're definitely getting off the subject. Just saying if the original poster really wanted to try this experiment, having multiple people keeping all their space productive as long as possible would be the way to go...not growing a single crop for the year. And there is certainly no way they could grow ALL the vegetables the entire groups eats for a year that way.

Peter1142
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Re: 6 people, 12 crops - What Would You Grow?

Growing ALL the vegetables you eat for the entire year would be no easy task, and would require giving up your day job, as well as eating many things out of season. Definitely should be starting planting yesterday ! :)
Zone 6b SE NY
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Taiji
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Re: 6 people, 12 crops - What Would You Grow?

Sounds like a horrible mathematical word problem, my head is spinning!
:?

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Gary350
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Re: 6 people, 12 crops - What Would You Grow?

If I can only grow 2 I will pick crops with the best food value for the way we eat. My choice is tomatoes and beans. You can make, stews, soups, chili, sauce, salad, more with tomatoes. You can do a lot with beans.

dvlucke
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Re: 6 people, 12 crops - What Would You Grow?

It's more of a planning exercise than anything. The scenario laid out is just to get us thinking. We do not realistically expect to grow everything we eat (for one, I'm not giving up meat any time soon). So I guess rather than being ultimately concerned about the exact science of making sure we're growing enough to survive, I'm more thinking what 6-12 crops would give us the most food for our efforts, while providing a reasonable variety for purposes of both nutrition and just not getting bored eating the same thing all the time. I'm not ready to go all in. That's more of a ten year goal of mine.

imafan26
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6 people, 12 crops - What Would You Grow?

This is like the Hamurabi game. You did not specify the city so where I live in the tropics these would be my choices.
6 people 12 crops
first I would find out from the 6 people what things they most like to eat that is relatively easy for them to grow and expensive to buy.
Potatoes and carrots are cheap and store well. Corn takes up a lot of space, not a lot of yield and so do squash and melon vines unless you pick the right squash.

Beans and peas would be productive for the space they take. Personally, I am not a fan of beans.
Eggplant is productive. A couple of plants would produce 8 eggplant every 10 days or so. It is popular plant here with many uses, but it depends on how much your 6 people like to eat eggplant. It can be filling with fiber but not nutritionally dense.
Zucchini, in the past a few zucchini would feed a neighborhood with people running away from it, however, these days they don't seem to yield as much. I don't know why.
Chayote for those who can grow it takes about 50 ft of fence. Puts out buckets of fruit and the shoots are edible too.
Gourds can be more productive than squash. Long gourds (upo) will easily produce more than 20 gourds on a vine and that beats the 2 watermelons and 5 pumpkins I get hands down.
Swiss chard and kale keep on giving multiple harvests, Komatsuna does too.
Daikon and turnips produce roots and edible greens.
Tomatoes are a lot of work but if you pick the right ones like sweet millions, and the medium sized tomatoes they will give good yields. Larger tomatoes means less production. Hybrids are usually more disease resistant and productive than heirlooms. Your choice depends on what is more important to you.
I like beets and I get tubers and greens if I replant more every three weeks. Days to harvest 50-90 days.
NZ hot weather spinach and malabar spinach produce so much that you will have a hard time keeping up with them and they tolerate more heat than regular spinach. Sweet potato leaves are also a dependable tropical green.
Here we have ung choy or swamp cabbage. It is not something you would find outside of the tropics and it is one of the plants that is banned for us to send to the mainland because if it escapes it will take over and clog waterways. But here, with a lot of water in a large pot, you have to keep on it so it stays in the pot.
Marungay (moringa) gets hacked to pieces, but it keeps on giving.

For the guy who has a 10 x 8 patch of sun
swiss chard, beets, Asian greens, in succession under the overhead trellis.
Build and overhead trellis. On the corners or on the sides you can plant, beans or tomatoes. Overhead the chayote squash will hang from the ceiling. My trellis looks like a tent frame covered with crw on top and I could put a wall of CRW if I want to.

The guy with the pots. It depends on how many pots he can accomodate. I use pots for peppers, eggplant, tomatoes in CRW cages, Cages can also be used for beans and underplanted with beets . Self watering containers save water and the cache of fertilizer works out pretty well. Tomatoes can be under planted with light feeder with shallow roots only when they are young. I would only use 18 gallon or larger sip. Smaller SIP cannot support that many plants for the space they take up.

The guy with the large yard
The moringa trees at least 4 of them. They only need a narrow space the tops will be chopped so the canopy does not really spread. I have seen these trees in a parking strip only 2 ft wide.

On a fence or trellis that is at least 50 ft long- chayote if elevation is at least 600 ft or higher. It does not fruit well lower.

Sweet potato leaves 10x20 ft patch.

On the ground peppers, bush beans, Asian greens in cool weather.

If the yard is big enough fruit trees: Meyer lemon, mango, and avocado
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

dvlucke
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Re: 6 people, 12 crops - What Would You Grow?

Ok, new scenario. 6 people, 6 one way plane ticket to Hawaii :)

ButterflyLady29
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Re: 6 people, 12 crops - What Would You Grow?

Peas can be followed by watermelon or cantaloupe, maybe sunflowers or winter wheat. Brussels sprouts, fall broccoli, cabbage and other similar crops can also be started then plants set out after peas. Bok choi and kohlrabi would have enough time to mature. You could even plant basil that had been started elsewhere in the spot where the peas were. Or carrots or beets could be grown there. Anything that would mature in 80 days or less would have ample time to be grown after the peas are out. The melons and sunflowers could be planted while the peas are still producing.

As for the exercise, no garlic? I gotta have my garlic.

I have the same situation with potatoes except they aren't finished until nearly August. That leaves just enough time for oriental greens and kohlrabi, maybe beets or turnips. Potatoes, bak choi, garlic then carrots or beets the next year is a good rotation.

imafan26
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Re: 6 people, 12 crops - What Would You Grow?

You noticed I did not plant any potatoes. We eat more rice than potatoes, but they would take up more space. Instead of sweet potato leaves, I could plant sweet potatoes or kalo for starch. But it would be hard to plant enough to feed six people since those things are not harvested frequently. Kalo takes nine months to mature and sweet potatoes 4 or 5 months. Leaves can be harvested before then, but harvesting leaves usually means there won't be a tuber to harvest.
If the sceneario was limited to square footage and not to numbernof plants, more could be planted seasonally and in succession.

There was a biodome experiment where a group of people volunteered to live in a sealed environment that was supposed to supply all the air and food they needed. As it turned out the system was not balanced and there wasn't enough oxygen to keep everyone alive so the biodome was deliberately allowed to leakand outside air infiltrated in. The people inside actually lost weight because of the difficulty of a small group of people without machines having to grow everything by hand and none of the participants were farmers. They were not able to grow enough food to support themselves so they ate the seeds they were supposed to plant and the animals were slaughtered because they competed with the humans for food. It was a lot of acreage that had to support them. After a while they went a bit stir crazy and barely talked to each other. In the end the experiment failed and the company that owned it gave it up.
The critics said that it was not as well thought out as an experiment as planned. Although there were different environments they probably did not make good choices about what to plant. Since they were scientists and not farmers they did not know how to deal with pests which apparently found a way to get in and underestimated how much the organics respirated especially when they were in a glass dome in an already hot climate. I think they underestimated what was required to keep everything recycled.

I think instead of 6 people and 12 crops, it should be what would it take to keep 6 people, plants and animals alive and healthy in a sealed environment for a year or make it a little easier by not having to balance and ecosystem what if you were on Gilligan's island and stranded with 6 other people, what would you have to have to survive. What skills would you need and what plants and animals would be the best ones to have around to survive. I assume we don't want them all to be rocket scientists.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

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jal_ut
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Re: 6 people, 12 crops - What Would You Grow?

Corn, beans, squash and potatoes. The big four. These are the ones to grow for food energy. The other green stuff OK for the vitamins, but you gotta have the energy producers first.
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

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