But never fear, if we put just half of one bed down to swiss chard and another half down to courgettes we can knock out almost as many items from that one bed as from all ten potato beds.
And if we grew one full bed of lettuces successionally through the summer, in theory we could probably furnish another 3,000 items, though I think we may struggle to sell them all.
When I started down this path I burned with the conviction that every town and city should be ringed with market gardens growing produce for local consumption.
But the reality of trying to do my bit in implementing that vision has instilled a certain scepticism.
Hence, I suppose, the journey charted on this blog: from prospecting a future of small commercial farms plying their trade, I’ve become more interested in the path of the substantially self-reliant latter-day homesteader.
Luckily for me, there’s currently a great group of people leading on the market gardening side of the farm, with fairly minimal input from me.
This year’s plan is as follows (numbers indicate the number of varieties of a crop, and asterisks indicate a major crop in terms of income and/or land take): *Winter cabbage (5) Calabrese (2) *Kale (4) Cauliflower (1) Swede (1) Turnip (1) Pak choi (1) Radish (1) *Leek (1) *Onion (2) *Courgette (2) *Cucumber (2) *Squash (3) Carrots (1) *Celeriac (1) Celery (1) *Parsnips (2) *Beetroot (1) *Leaf beet (1) *Chard (1) *Spinach (1) Broad beans (1) *French beans (2) Runner beans (1) *Lettuce (11) *Winter salads (14) Aubergine (2) *Tomatoes (1) Peppers (2) Physalis (1) Basil (1) Green manures (9) A lot of people solve it by only operating from June to December and focusing on high-value summer crops.
We operate year-round, but we’ve found that on a small scale the crops you can grow for hungry gap cropping aren’t really worth it for the most part – too much ground occupation for too long, for too small a return (eg. One exception is hungry gap kale, which has cropped well for us.
Looking at the wholesale organic prices, if we were lucky we could probably make about £100 gross per bed from the potatoes, while the chard/courgette bed would bring in over £1,000 and the lettuce bed more still.
Though these leafy beds would require a lot more human labour than the potato beds – assuming that you have a tractor with some kind of potato planting and harvesting kit to go on the back.