Post COVID Subsistence Garden?

A very long time ago in one of the blogs I follow the writer, Kevin, asked the question:  What would you plant in your veggie garden if, for some reason, you couldn’t access a supermarket for an entire year?   There were a number of very good comments in reply, but one of the best came just lately (i.e. post COVID19) from a real subsistence farmer, John.

garden harvestI have recently begun some serious harvesting from my own garden and so the idea of having to live off it entirely for a year causes me to ponder, “Could we live on this for a year?’ Probably it would not be a varied or exciting diet, but it might be adequate.


caribe potatoFirst of all the macro nutrients: This year I have about 300 hills of potatoes which would easily meet our need for carbohydrate energy. I also planted two short rows of triticale and a 10×10 ft field of wheat. Between the two of them there would probably be enough flour for thickening sauces and gravies if I didn’t use them for anything else. My 100 corn plants will soon be at the corn-on-the-cob stage, but if I let them mature there might also be some corn meal.

Jacobs cattle beans

Protein would be the limiting factor. I do have a plot of Jacobs Cattle beans that are coming along well and would go a long way to meeting the protein requirements. My main crop of pole beans has been an abysmal failure this year, so I suspect I might look carefully at the white tail deer that have been munching on my garden all summer too.

deer question mark

Without animal fats, there might be some problem meeting this nutrient requirement. There are a few oil-bearing seeds growing that would suddenly become much more important: self seeded canola, mustard and radish are forming pods now where I failed to weed them out. With some advanced planning I would have seeded canola and some flax as well. I am not sure where it fits into this equation, but I also have a fair bit of fat stored up on my body.

20613291-canned-tomatoes-and-pickled-cucumbers-homemade-preserved-vegetablesMicronutrients would be less difficult to supply. My garden is full of leafy greens and tomatoes right now that I can freeze, can and pickle (I have salt and vinegar on hand).

root vegCarrots, rutabaga, onions, parsnip and turnip are all forming nice roots that will store over the winter.  This year’s squash crop is complete failure. They would have been a very good addition to the winter larder. Rhubarb and raspberries will be the only fruits to store away this year. Birds have devoured the currents and cherries.

We have enjoyed a huge selection of salad greens this season and from last year’s experiments I know that I can grow enough lettuce indoors to meet our salad needs throughout the winter months.

There are probably enough herbs in our yard to dry for seasonings and teas over the winter, but we’d have to live without coffee. Hmmm… ? Nope.

coffeeWe cannot do that! So I guess that while the garden produce will go a long way to allowing us to avoid trips to the stores, there are a few things we just can’t do without.


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