As a home gardener, one of the toughest things to get right every year is knowing just how much food to grow for our family. Before we start planning our garden for the season, we need to know how much to plant per person. We literally need to know how many of each vegetable variety we need to feed our family for the next twelve months.
Keep in mind, your garden plan will be different than ours depending on the size and individual eating habits of your family.
Use these tips to help plan your garden and decide how much to plant per person to secure your family's food supply.
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How Much Gardening Space Do You Have?
Before you can figure out how much to plant per person, you need to know how much space you have to work with.
If you have limited space for backyard gardening, it will impact what types of vegetables you can grow and how much yield you will have from each plant. For example, if you only have 200 square feet of gardening space but you have 6 people living in your household, you will want to plant a lot of climbing vegetables to help maximize your yield.
Once you know how much space you have, plan your garden spacing and rows. This will help you figure out which plants you can fit and how many you can plant per row.
If you have extremely limited space, try and extend your harvest season with a cold frame. Use natural homemade fertilizers, and try planting different varieties of the same vegetable with different maturing periods. Not spacing out planting is one of the key vegetable garden harvesting mistakes beginner gardeners make.
This will allow you to have fresh produce throughout the growing season, as well as increase your overall yield.
How Many Vegetables Do You Eat Each Month?
If you haven’t tried growing a full supply of vegetables for your family before, it can be tricky to figure out exactly how much you eat in a year.
To get a rough estimate for your family garden plan, keep track of all the vegetables your family eats in one month. This includes fresh, frozen, or canned vegetables. Once you have a month of data, simply multiply this number by 12 to get a rough estimate of your annual consumption. Add an extra 20% to that final number to account for smaller yields and produce from a home garden.
Now that you have a clear picture of how many vegetables and the specific types that your family likes, you can start formulating a plan. Every family has different preferences, and you have probably noticed certain veggies that your family eats a ton of. Do some research into that type of vegetable and different strains with higher yields or ones that work well for succession planting.
How Much to Plant Per Person
With a clear picture of your gardening space and vegetable consumption, it’s time to get down to the important stuff. How much will be enough?
Below, you will find a list of popular vegetables and how much to plant per person. For more detailed information, head over to Harvest to Table where you'll find more great tips on how to calculate just how many plants you might need when you're growing all of your own food.
Many factors will affect your final yield, so do your best to adjust for anything that might reduce it. This can include your local climate and growing season, pests, sunlight issues, etc. If you're like us, you're dealing with the challenges of gardening in a cold climate. Try to stagger planting or use succession planting so you don’t harvest a bunch of veggies all at the same time.
Keeping vegetables through the winter comes with its own set of challenges. Make sure you have a plan for canning, preserving, or pickling your extra vegetables once autumn arrives. No root cellar? No problem. Learn how to store your harvest without a root cellar.
Keep Detailed Records
As any experienced gardener will tell you, keeping detailed records will make a big difference in your planning for next year.
By recording your number of plants, yields, and consumption of vegetables each year, you will be able to further fine-tune your garden planning every spring. For example, you may notice you ran out of potatoes before February.
In this case, you will want to look at how many potatoes you planted last year and add some more to your plan for this year. It’s a simple system, but it will help you figure out how much to plant per person in the future.
Whether you’re growing food for yourself, or to feed your whole family, the basics of planning stay the same. You will refine your numbers each year, and learn better ways to garden each season. You should take note of which vegetables required a lot of work, and which ones are best for a low-maintenance vegetable garden.
Remember to keep detailed records, plant a bit more than you think you’ll need, and don’t get discouraged. Gardening has a lot of variables, and you will learn what works and doesn’t work over time. Let us know in the comments what vegetables your family loves to grow!
Interested in self-sufficient living and gardening as a way to feed your family? Read more below.