How to Layout your Vegetable Garden- Part 1 of 3

Yesterday I reposted how to schedule your plantings by the moon. To continue with my garden planning series, today’s post is how to determine how much you should grow of what plants per person.

The very first thing you need to figure out when laying out your garden is how much room do you have. If you only have a couple of raised beds don’t expect to be able to grow everything you need for a year, but you can make the most of what you got, you will just need to prioritize what you want to grow. What do you eat the most? Of your most used veggies, what is the most expensive to buy? Which ones require the least amount of space per plant? What is difficult to find in stores that you would like to have better access to?

These are all important questions for you to ask in order to determine how you will layout your garden.

If you have a lot of space it will be easier. The tough part though is determining just how much of any particular vegetable you will actually eat. For example, a family of 4 would only need 1 zucchini plant if they don’t eat zucchini every day. But they may want a dozen tomato plants to not only eat fresh but to can for the colder months. Does your family really eat THAT much of any particular type of vegetable? For us, we LOVE green beans in the summer. We will eat them every day if allowed. So we grow a lot of green beans. We also grow a lot of dry beans because they keep well and we like to eat them as comfort food in the winter. Plus you need a lot of plants to produce a lot of dry beans. If you have a smaller garden though, you may want to skip dry beans and just stick with green beans and peas. If space is tight you would also want to skip items like melons, winter squash (there are a few bush types though that might be suitable), and corn.

So just how much of what will serve you all season long? Sometimes it’s difficult to tell, but a few books will tell you how much you should grow for the average family. Keep in mind that not all of us are “average.” Previous to having access to such a large garden, Tom and I were part of an CSA. We ordered the box that was supposed to feed a family of four. Because we are fiends for produce we would have to order twice that. So for us a huge garden is a must to get us through the year.

So here’s the run down for the average family. All estimates are per person in a household. For those that have “rows” keep in mind that if you are planting in wide beds (which I highly recommend even if they aren’t raised because you can get 4x as many plants in the space), divide the row by the width of your bed divided by the spacing between the plants or in other words: Length of bed needed = row length/(bed width/plant spacing in feet) So if you need 8′ of row for a plant that can be spaced 6″ apart in a bed that’s 4′ wide (length = 8’/[4/.5]) you would need only 1′ of bed length. I really hope that makes sense.

Artichokes: 2-4 plants
Asparagus:  5-10 crowns 
Beans, dry: 20-30′  of row
Beans, shell: 30′ of row
Beans, green: 30′ of row
Beets: 12′ of row
Broccoli: 5 plants
Brussels sprouts: 5 plants
Cabbage: 10 plants
Carrots: 10′ of row
Cauliflower: 5 plants
Celery: 6 plants
Celeriac: 10 plants
Corn: 25′ of row
Cucumbers: 12′ of row
Eggplants: 5 plants
Fennel: 5 plants
Garlic: 10′ of row
Horseradish: 1 plant per household
Jerusalem Artichoke (Sunchoke): 1 plant per household
Kale: 5 plants
Kohlrabi: 6-10 plants
Leeks: 10-20′ of row
Lettuce: 10′ of row or 2-4 plants every 2 weeks
Melons: 3 plants
Okra: 1-4 plants
Onions: 10-20′ of row
Parsnips: 5-10′ of row
Peas: 50-100′ of row
Sweet Peppers: 3 plants
Hot Peppers: 2 plants per household
Potatoes: 50′ of row
Pumpkins: 1 hill
Radishes: 5′ of row
Rhubarb: 1 plant
Rutabagas: 8′ of row
Salsify: 10′ of row
Scorzonera: 10′ of row
Spinach: 20′ of row
Summer Squash: 1 hill
Sweet Potatoes: 4 plants
Swiss Chard: 5′ of row
Tomatoes: 5 plants
Tomatillos: 1 plant
Turnips: 5′ of row
Watermelon: 2-3 hills
Winter Squash: 3-5 hills

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