None of us should feel inadequate -- we grow what we can and what we love. I hope to be closer to where Pete is in a few years, but I don't begrudge the time and the learning to get there, and those who don't want to or can't go there at all shouldn't worry but value where they are.
Pete, are you gardening full time? This year is my very first garden, so I've started small. I work from home, which is nice, but it isn't at all the same as working the farm full time -- I find myself very frustrated when I'm on a deadline and can't get out there to do what I'd like to.
We have pecans, peaches, figs, walnuts, some sort of apple, acres of blackberries, some sort of grapes which are probably wild muskadines, and more edible wild things than I would have imagined, but all that came with the farm (we moved here at the very end of last summer). So, I'll gather and preserve a lot of that, but I can't say I'm gardening it. More like trying not to get in the way.
We have a fenced garden plot of a couple of acres, but I've only planted six intensive beds there, 40 square feet each, plus two "patches" of potatoes in old tires. I've had some successes and some complete failures in the garden so far.
Bed #1 has radishes (white, crimson giant, sparkler), which have bolted-- we're gradually eating the greens; otherwise I'm leaving them for bug traps. There are two rows of beets (crossbed rows, about 15 plants total). It's gotten too hot for them to do much, so I'm contemplating eating beet greens, too. I have four rows of Spanish sweet onions and two of white onions -- planted outdoors from seed, but they have come up, so we'll see what happens in the fall. The ends of all my beds are marigolds, and I planted nasturtiums among them a couple of weeks ago when I finally got some seed.
Bed # 2 is red and white potatoes interplanted with bush lima beans; the potatoes have about shaded out the limas, but that's okay as I just wanted them to help the potatoes; my husband won't eat them. I have about 12 potatoes plants there, about the same number of limas. Over by the fence are my old tire potatoes, about 6-8 plants each with red potatoes in one tire stack and white in the other.
Bed #3 is my problem child. We let the subsoil mix into the surface soil when we double dug it (by the way, "we," as applied to heavy groundbreaking activites, generally means "my wonderful husband"). Also, it's closest to the big black walnut by the garden fence (though most of my garden is surrounded by black walnuts). I worked in coffee grounds, but no manure. I planted it in jalapeno and bell peppers (from seed), interplanted with some onions just as companions and some radish bug traps. A few of the plants have come up now, but most of those appeared shortly after I gave up on the peppers and replanted part of the bed with nine Rutgers tomato plants. No telling what baby peppers I killed. I'm going to maure this bed in the fall and plant soybeans as a cover crop if I can get the seeds, clover if I can't (I'll cover crop all the beds except the potatoes, which will probably be storing potatoes).
Bed #4 has marigold interplanted with catnip along the ends. Then there are six Roma tomato plants (planted outdoors from seed, and they're very happy now), then 4 rows of crowder peas (Mississippi Silver) -- that's about 16 plants). The end of the bed I planted with watermelon (6 plants in two rows), intending to let them sprawl out of the bed, but it looks like they may not come up.
Bed #5 is a complete success -- squash. I have 9 yellow crookneck squash plants, 2 pumpkins, 4 cucumber, and 5 zucchini. This bed has also been my most successful experiment with radushes as insect trap plants -- I just keep replanting them along the edges to lure the bugs, and pull'em when the leaves are eaten down to nubs.
Bed #6 is acually two long narrow beds with a footpath down the middle -- more like traditional rows, I guess, though I still planted intensively. On one side I have two long rows of more Mississippi Silver peas -- about 30 plants, I guess. The other side has 6 cowbell peppers from bought flats, two "clumps" of bell peppers from seeds I saved out of store-bought peppers and started in potting soil -- I need to thin these -- and 8 sweet potato plants from bought flats (originally; one plant died shortly after transplanting, though I think it was dying in the flat). The pepper and sweet potato bed we double dug and mixed a wheelbarrow of aged manure into the subsoil and another into the topsoil. The pea bed my husband literally just broke the ground open with a pick, then I raked in one 5-gallon bucket of manure. Those peas are doing great -- I think it's virtually impossible to kill crowder peas around here, and Mississippi Silvers are particularly well-suited to the climate here. I wanted to experiment with a method that involved less work, and so far, it's been great. (Can you tell this was the last bed and we were tired?)
I'll replant some of the beds after harvest for a fall crop of lettuces and the like. I'm going to put in collard greens about the first of July, but I think I'll need another bed.