1. Twenty square rods, poles, or perches of ground, each square rod, pole, or perch being, of course, 30 1/4 square yards, will, if well cropped, supply a family of at least four people with vegetables at one meal a day every day in the year.
Some may be inclined to doubt the accuracy of this, yet it has been done, to my personal knowledge, and will be again. Let us see what may be grown on 20 square rods of ground:
Ten square rods of Potatoes, which should yield eight sacks of 1 1/2 cwt. each, equal to 1,344 lb., or approximately 3 3/4 lb. a day throughout the year.
Eight sacks from 10 rods is a good yield, but not in any way an impossible one. It is merely a question of culture.
Three rows of Peas, early, mid season, and late, so as to yield a succession.
Two rows of broad Beans, sown successionally.
One row of Scarlet Runners, which, if grown as I shall presently advise, will yield pods for three or four months.
One row of dwarf French Beans, which will give a few nice pickings until the Runners are ready, and then very likely be allowed to languish in the shadow of neglect, according to bad but well established rule.
Nine rows of Onions, which may or may not include some autumn (or rather summer) sown, but certainly should include two or three rows of early, box-raised plants.
Six rows of Cabbages, summer sown, to yield hearts in spring.
One row of Tomatoes, although in many cases space can be found for these on a wall.
This does not actually exhaust all the space, which has been carefully worked out; indeed, room can be found for a row each of red pickling Cabbages, Jerusalem Artichokes, Salsify, Scorzonera, and Turnip-rooted Celery, if wanted, with patches for Salads, Cucumbers, Vegetable Marrows, Rhubarb, and Herbs. Spinach could be grown between the Peas.
Of course, I am not contending that everything could be grown on the ground at the same time. The question of successions comes in, and that is to engage our early attention.
In connection with the above figures, it may be asked: What is meant by a "row"? The reply is that, for the sake of establishing a standard on which to work, I have proceeded on the assumption that the 20-rod plot is 10 rods (55 yards) long by 2 rods (11 yards) wide, but if a piece of ground of the same area is shorter and wider, or longer and narrower, the multiplication table will adjust matters to a nicety. Thus, six rows of Carrots, each row 11 yards long, mean 66 yards run of Carrots, and that quantity can be calculated for in a piece of ground of any shape.
The foregoing will show that a very large quantity of vegetables can be grown on 20 square rods. As a matter of fact, a 20-rod slice of land is very much bigger than most people calculate. When they have worked it thoroughly for a season they realise its extent much better than they did before.
Ten rods of ground will supply a very nice lot of vegetables if judgment is exercised in cropping.
A square rood (40 square rods) of ground will meet the wants of a small gentleman's house with eight or ten in the family, including servants.
For large houses, with twenty or more to feed, a town house to supply, and a head gardener's family to be provided for, not to speak of occasional contributions to the labourers, 2 acres at least will be wanted, and even with that the Potatoes must be grown outside.
The plans on Figs. 1, 2 and 3 offer suggestions for cropping plots of 20 rods, 1/2 acre, and 1 acre respectively.
I turn to the other aspect of this question - the labour. How much ground can an active man manage, (1) in his spare time, (2) with his whole time?
1. To a certain extent it depends, naturally, on the amount of his spare time, but, speaking broadly, 20 rods is as much as can be properly managed. A man must be exceptionally energetic, and have a considerable amount of leisure, to do 1/4 acre well.
2. With help on special occasions, a man who gave his whole time to 1 acre of ground ought to keep it well cropped and perfectly clean.