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How Much to Plant Per Person in the Vegetable Garden

Figuring Out How Much to Plant in Your Vegetable Garden

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Wide Row Vegetable Gardening

Wide Row Vegetable Gardening

Photo: © Marie Iannotti (2009) licensed to About.com, Inc.

How much of each vegetable should you plant, to feed a family of 4 for the growing season and beyond? The answer to that will depend on a number of factors such as, which vegetables you like to eat and whether you’ll be using your vegetable garden to grow for fresh eating or for preserving.

How much of each vegetable to plant also depends on the size and layout of your garden. You generally get more yield in a small space if you garden in wide rows. In “How To Grow More Vegetables”, intensive gardening guru, John Jeavons, says you’ll need about 200 sq.ft. per person to grow enough vegetables and soft fruits for the growing season at intermediate yields. To grow all the food for one person's needs for the whole year requires, for most people, at least 4,000 square feet—though some diet designs are possible that can use a smaller area. [Note: This is a correction. I originally and mistakenly reported 400 sq. ft.] Four thousand sq. ft. isn't possible for most of us, but you can grow enough of your favorite vegetables in a much smaller footprint, to eat fresh all summer and put up some for the winter months.

Knowing how much of each vegetable to plant is a bit trickier. That depends on how well things grow, which vegetables you prefer and how often you’ll be eating it. In truth, you won’t really know how many vegetables to plant for your family until you’ve got a few years experience under your belt. Even then, tastes change.

Some plants simply take up more space. Artichokes, asparagus and rhubarb are perennial plants that need to sit in the garden all season. Vining crops, like squash, cucumbers and melons will need room to spread out or up. On the other hand, many crops can be planted in succession, planting only a few feet of a row every 2-3 weeks so that a new crops is continually coming in. Succession planting is very dependent on the length of your growing season. Warm climates can do several plantings of corn, while cooler climates can squeeze in a second planting of peas.

If you have limited space, you can extend your harvest season by planting different types of the same vegetable: early, mid and late maturing varieties.

Use the chart on the following page as general guidelines of how much to plant, for a family of 4, for the most commonly grown vegetables.

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