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Answering the Eternal Question: How Much to Plant?

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Figuring out how much to plant to feed your family can be tricky! Here are a few tips, plus a sample list of crops and number of plants to grow.

Figuring out how much to plant of each crop in your garden to feed your family each year is more of an art than a science! We get a lot of questions on this topic from our readers, and the answer – unfortunately – is usually “it depends…”

How much to plant of any given crop will depend on a wide number of factors – from your family’s personal eating preferences, to your climate and available garden space, to whether or not you want to preserve some of your harvest for later use, and more. The amount can even vary from one growing season to the next, depending on weather conditions. Some crops may grow great if you have a cool, rainy summer, while others may produce less than expected.

This uncertainty is why we gardeners often end up with WAY too much of one crop (for my family it’s usually summer squash – but last year was an exception and we unexpectedly ended up with none at all!) – and not enough of another (we can never grow enough potatoes it seems).

Obviously, you will never be able to control for all variables, but with a bit of advance planning, you can get a rough idea of how much to plant to feed your family for the year (or season).

Here are a few factors to consider when deciding how much to plant – and of which crops:

  • What are your family’s favorite veggies to eat?
  • What do they eat the greatest quantity of? (E.g. a person may love something like corn, but not use it in nearly every meal – as you would, say, onions.)
  • How much does each person eat? (An adult eats a lot more than a small child.)
  • How much garden space do you have? (If you only have a small amount of garden space, you may want to limit or exclude inefficient crops that take up a lot of space for a small amount of food produced – such as corn.)
  • What grows and thrives in your area? (Some crops – like tomatoes – are very productive almost anywhere, while others such as peanuts or sweet potatoes may not produce well in cooler climates, for example.)
  • Will you just eat your fresh produce while it is in season, or do you plan to preserve some of your produce to eat later in the year? (E.g. Canning or drying tomatoes, freezing peppers, green beans, etc.)

Once you have considered these questions, you should have a good idea of what to grow, but how many plants of each crop are appropriate?

You will only really be able to determine this through experimenting from year to year while considering the factors above, but below is a rough estimate for fresh eating plus some food preservation, suggested by ThePrairieHomestead.com, that we have found is also pretty accurate for our family – though we always grow more garlic, more onions, and more tomatoes since we do a lot of canning.

 

Figuring out how much to plant(Image Source: ThePrairieHomestead.com)

 

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