How do you know how much food to grow, process, and store?
Obviously, you first count the number of people for whom you’re going to provide. Next, you find a legit website, such as the University of Missouri, and plan accordingly. You do need to make sure your source is correct; I’ve come across bloggers who recommend half of what a state extension site does, and that’s going to cause you a lot of issues when SHTF.
Of course, we’d all like to grow ALL of our own food, but sometimes this just doesn’t work out. Ask any farmer how crop predictions pan out. They’ll tell you. Some things you learn as you go, sometimes the weather doesn’t cooperate, you could be dealing with poor soil, bad seeds, or just garden-munching critters.
Each year, you’ll get more practice and you’ll discover new reasons for low production—so start now. It’s easier to learn and shrug it off and move along if you still have access to a grocery store or farmers’ market.
You also will need to adjust for personal preferences. For instance, on the MU site, they list a few things that we simply don’t normally eat. They also call for 8-15 tomato plants per person, which does include canning as well as eating, but we use quite a bit of tomato sauce so I adjust upwards.
Usually, I can only sauce, although I’d like to try ketchup one of these days. But with plain tomato sauce, I can then make taco sauce, barbeque sauce, spaghetti sauce, and more. I use approximately three cans or jars each month, sometimes more. The final number, more than 50 for us, can be surprising so do take advantage of existing lists and then make your own determination.
Unfortunately, I had a few issues with tomato plants this year, so I’ll have to buy some to finish the canning. Not my first choice, but we often have to adapt.
You also might be surprised at the number of ways you can process foods for storage.
I freeze zucchini and other squash, I freeze cabbage and corn; I dry onions, mushrooms, and potatoes and all of my herbs, as well as fruit, which I use in making granola or oatmeal or just for a snack.
None of these are difficult. For example, everyone always has lots of zucchini. Slice or cube, put in boiling water for a few minutes and then ice water to stop the cooking, drain and let dry, load into freezer bags. Simple. Same for cabbage.
Some things I just freeze directly, like green beans. After I pick them, I keep out a few for the next couple nights’ dinners, then wash and trim the rest and put them in a freezer bag. I just keep adding to that bag every time I pick more.
The best part is that you don’t even half to grow all this stuff if you don’t have the space or the time or energy. Just stop in your local farmers’ market and then process what you purchase. And, you can save a lot of trips to the grocery store when you’re all stocked up on the basics . . .