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Getting the Most Calories Out of Your Homestead Garden

When starting a vegetable garden you want to get the most out of every square foot that you can! Here are some ways to have a more calorie intensive garden.

homestead garden, sustainable gardening, eat local, homesteading

Whether you are planning on starting your first urban garden as a pastime or simply growing food to support a small family on a spacious garden, then it goes without saying that calorie intensive farming ought to be at the top of your list. But how exactly can you make sure that you’re getting the most calories per foot out of your backyard’s garden? Well, here is a quick primer to that.


1. Establish Permanent Garden Beds

Setting up an array of permanent garden beds as opposed to the plants-by-row approach allows you the opportunity to narrow down your efforts specifically on only where your plants grow. And as a direct result, this reduces wastage of irrigation water, compost or fertilizer on unplanted parts of the garden significantly.

In addition to this, it also ensures that soil compaction is a non-issue as you will be walking on permanent pathways whenever you transverse the garden and never on the planted areas. As a side note: This idea of having permanent garden beds in the place of conventional rows is borrowed from some of the agriculturally productive parts of the world where intensive farming is taken up on a large scale.

Homestead garden, vegetable garden, gardening, eat local, grow your own

2. Make Good use of Compost

Compost or organic manure has a unique advantage over commercially produced fertilizers in that its nutrients are released slowly and gradually over a long span of time. This slow-release of nutrients allows a balanced injection of macronutrients in the soil which promotes a luxurious and healthy growth of your crops.

Aside from that, the content of organic matter in the compost also boosts the soil’s water retention capacity, improves the texture, and generally supports a high yield.

Additional Resource: Having the Courage to Homestead

3. Practice High-density and Intensive Mixed Farming

As much intensive farming makes the best of the available garden space at your disposal, complimenting it with mixed farming is one of the best ways of ensuring high yield (and consequently, a high calorific output per foot unit) in your homestead garden.

Novice gardeners, for instance, can kick-start this farming strategy of boosting their overall yield by first adopting Bartholomew’s method that involves subdividing the plot into smaller 1-foot square areas. This can be helpful in visualizing (from a close point of view) how densely or sparsely you can plant your produce.

Homestead garden, vegetable garden, gardening, eat local, grow your own

4. Succession Planting

One of the best ways of getting the most calories out of your homestead garden is by practicing crop rotation in the form of succession planting. This is an excellent approach to making sure that at no given time – all year round – your garden lies idle. Again, replanting quickly (with a different crop ) as soon as you harvest is a guaranteed way of ensuring a continuous crop cover all-year-round.

Additional Resource: Back to Eden Gardening Method

The Bottom Line

Besides boosting the number of calories per square foot obtained in a given patch of land, interspersing different crops at different times of the year is one of the major principles of intensive farming that promotes sustainability.

Furthermore, it is also evident that mixing plants of different heights, root depths and growth rates is a convenient way of packing more crops in a given small space without bordering on over-exploitation.

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Emily Bean is on the content team at Sproutabl. Emily is a gardener with a focus towards homesteading & sustainability. In addition to gardening, Emily is also a homemaker, foodie, yoga practitioner, and dog mom.

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