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The Pot Experiment – Progress report

Well today I was considering the yield from my garden and thinking about how it would fair in a survival situation. I’m afraid to say it does not look good. As you may know I have most of my plants in pots and grow bags with few items in the ground.

There are several reasons for this but the primary one is security followed by ease of maintenance.

Which is just as well as the yield from the pots and grow bags have been poor so far, the fruit only a fraction of what I had last year and I’m afraid that it would not have provided much in the way of sustenance. The size of the fruit was also small compared to last year and although tasted nice was a big disappointment compared to the flavours last year. The planted crops though are having bumper yields. I don’t know how many raspberries I have eaten with many more to come. Plums and peaches are filling out nicely as well.

Of course the year is not over yet and I have a few late cropping fruit so things may pick up but so far I would have starved to death if I was reliant on my plants. Need to do some major thinking and get some advice before next year.

I think though that the security aspect is working fine. I’ll have a garden full of plants yet no obvious fruit or veg for people to steal just a decorative looking plant with leaves ready to be denuded and hidden. After an event I’ll have to plant them into the ground to get a decent yield from them though.

9 comments to The Pot Experiment – Progress report

  • Ellen

    Yeah, this is the first year that I personally have tried to garden. I am using pots, with potting soil. It has really been a disappointment. But that is probably my fault. If I have the energy and can get someone to help a little will recycle what is left of the potting soil with good ol’ earth and whatever else I can compost in the pile for next year. And hope that I can be smarter about it.
    I also believe that the weather had something to do with it. I tried the early seeding in the house and got plants up and outside thinking I would have stuff early. Hail storm came and took out the cucumbers, the tomato’s survived but have taken forever to produce, ripen and all. Now have had a week of over 100 degrees and I don’t blame them for looking like their dead.
    Sure glad that for now my life does not depend on the garden. I will happily admit I am a failure. But next year will be different.
    But I will say this, my late husband gardened. He would sit out in the heat and eat the stuff right out of it. One year he had a bumper crop of everything, I canned tomato’s till I counted them in my sleep. The next year wasn’t nearly as good. Go figure.
    So guess gardening aka farming is ify.
    But if I can will go to the farmers market and see if I can afford to buy stuff for now. Buggers.

  • fred

    How would this translate into a survival situation? Would the plants be kept in pots underground or what? I’d imagine that in a nuclear strike, if you were still alive, the fruit would be contaminated.

  • Ronnie

    I’m, not sure what plants you have in pots, but if they are little fruit trees and things, they normally take a good year in the soil to become established before producing a crop due to shock of being moved and planted. Ever thought of doing an energy budget? Work out how many calories/important nutrients can be harvested from each crop in different months? How many calories do you think you get from your plums and peach trees?

    Fo me, strawberries and currents are just for pleasure and a bit of jam. 100g Strawbs = 30 Kcals. My whole crop will be a few kilos. 5Kg over a few weeks = 1500 Kcals, ie. drop in the ocean = In a survival situation, probably a waste of time and ground!

    Tomatoes I consider vital for cooking and vitamins, whereas potatoes beetroot and carrots will keep you alive and in addition to fish and meat, working.

  • Ronnie

    PS. Looked at some photos of a bumper plum year (2009) and rekon I harvested about 25,000 Kcals worth! Sounds great, a lot of plums for the winter/spring..?

    But takes good 2 days worth of picking, jamming and bottling, (possibly more).
    Cost ~ 4 (person days) x 2000 Kcal (to keep 2 people going on those days (inc. fetching fuel for stove, water, etc.) = 8000 Kcal.

    Profit = ~17,000 Kcal

    17,000 Kcal / 2000 = 8.5 days of food, between two people, about 4 days worth. ie. perhaps not very much if you were thinking that “all that fruit” could go to keep your family going through the dark months!¬

    I’m not suggesting anyone try to live entirely on plums for a week, and it will facilitate the use of stored sugar, but the net equation stands.

  • Skean Dhude

    Ellen,

    Like everything in life we will get better as we practise. I’m going to try and pick others brains. Some of them say they get most of their veg and fruit for a year from a large plot. Even the smaller plots provide a saving. Yet they all seem to have their feet up when I look.

    Good luck.

    Fred,

    After a survival situation I would plant them in the ground. I would bring them under shelter if I could after a nuclear strike. Contamination is an issue and a very real risk.

    Ronnie,

    Last year the yield was much better on all my plants. They were laden with fruit and this year it is about 15% in general with a couple about 40-50%.

    I think most of us would be frightened by reality if we were to calculate the yield like this. After an event we would be less managing a garden than planting everything anywhere and harvesting what we had. Your neighbours crops, after they have gone, will be your crops if you can live that long. Little labour there. So it is important that we can live for the 15 months necessary to get to that stage.

    Also we are not in a enclosed bio system so while the calculations are valid they are less important to our survival as basically, we are relying on expending our energy harvesting food rather than expending energy maximizing a plot of lands potential which is what we do now.

    And strawberries a waste of time and ground. Heresy. My best cropping strawberry this year was a plant that hid behind the bin. I suspect more by accident by design although maybe it watched how the others did and made a run for it. My ‘managed’ plants were a fraction of the size and quantity.

    • Skvez

      Maybe the straberry plant that was hiding behind the bin managed to hide from the slugs too.

      • Skean Dhude

        Sadly not but it still did a much better job of growing and reproducing than my captive ones. Slugs seem to like the red ones as well as every other creature.

  • Ronnie

    There is a new variety of strawberries that are white when ripe. You can only buy seed in the UK, and I can’t for the life of me remember the name, but they’ve been developed so that the birds don’t go for them.

  • Skean Dhude

    Ronnie,

    Sounds good. It would even keep the greediest predators away, my kids, until they adapt and learn of course.

    Perhaps we need this sort of genetic modification for my cherry tree as well. Bloody birds.

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