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
10 thoughts on “How to Layout your Vegetable Garden- Part 1 of 3”
Hi there, this is really helpful. This year I've sowed vegetables that I know we will eat. Like you we love onions and leeks etc but thats about as much thought as I put into it. I need to keep this list for next year for reference. UDG
I agree…onions, lots of onions, and leeks, and peppers of all sorts, and heirloom tomatoes along with copious quantities of basil in the herb garden. What's a tomato without fresh basil? Tons of lettuce in the cooler months. Made the mistake of growing black beans one year. Yield was poor (for a number of reasons) and it's not like the flavor of homegrown, versus store-bought, is discernible. After that, my main rule for the vegetable garden was that the flavor of said vegetable had to be better when homegrown, to take up space in the garden. I'm still torn on corn though…home grown flavor can't be beat, but it does take up rather a lot of garden real estate.
I really like your blog! Your veggie garden post is great — most people would have to buy a book for a thorough plant spacing list like that. I'm nuts about salted caramels too, they're my absolute favorite and I've never considered making them myself before.
I wanted to recommend that you submit your rescued naval orange post (neat!) to the next issue of How to Find Great Plants. The deadline is December 31st. Here's the link if you're interested:
Eliza, thank you for your kind words! I'll submit the post now!
Someday I will get better at planting only what we actually eat, instead of "OMG THERE IS SO MUCH COOL STUFF IN THIS SEED CATALOG!!"
Of course, my haphazard method does force me to find new recipes to use all of the produce we grow.
This year we're being more intentional about planting enough alliums (garlic, onions, leeks), and trying to grow ALL our own herbs (I'm planning an herbal tea bed) as well as our standard produce. We are also experimenting with growing grains to supplement the chicken feed (they love to hop up and eat the wheat berries off the stalks) in a plot in the back part of the yard.
I wish we had enough space that we could be entirely self-sufficient, but it won't happen while we're at THIS house.
I hear ya on eating more veggies than “average.” I look at things like a bunch of kale in the market and think, “Well, that’s about half a serving….for one person….once I cook it!”
We have a large freezer and lots of pantry shelves that we fill up every year with our harvest. For us the big crops are tomatoes, peas, corn, green beans, and okra. We plant around 200 ft. of okra every year and eat fresh fried okra all summer as well as freezing around 100 qts. for peas and okra all winter. Visit my website for some nice vegetable recipes and info. http://www.growitveg.com
I have stumbled across your blog quite accidentally and find it fascinating! I am curious about how you manage all of this on just .28 acres? I have .24 and my garden is only 25×18 or so and I can’t get a lot into it. Now, I have a 3 year old so we want to have yard for her and the footprint of our ranch house is a little big and we have a big front yard, but having grown up in Vermont on 10 acres – I can’t even imagine how you are doing what you do! Kudos!
We do pack a lot onto it. Our house is small at only 750sf, but we do have a 1,000sf patio with a water tower and a “landscaped area” in the back. Our front yard is about 50’x50′ but we’re pulled out the grass and planted edible shrubs and perennials. We also have two driveways, which take up quite a bit of space. One of them accesses our backyard so we have a blank area back there for vehicle parking when we need it. Our entire lot is about 50’x250′ – long and narrow running east-west and pretty much flat.
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