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How Much Do I Plant?

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When I’m teaching classes or just generally talking with people a common question is, “how much do I plant to feed my family?”  The answer, of course, varies on so many factors, but let’s break that down:

Blue podded pea hanging in the garden

First, there are all kinds of charts and ideas online and in some of my favorite gardening books.  The thing about those charts is that they tend to be generic and not always suited for your family’s particular tastes, climate, space, and desires.

When thinking about how much to plant, answer these questions and use those answers as a guide to planning the garden.

How Much Space is Available?

I keep very a large garden close to 7,000 square feet.  Obviously, not everyone has that kind of space or inclination.  When planning your garden, space needs to be one of the first concerns.

How Much Do I Plant? - Homespun Seasonal Living

You may not have room to grow long vines of winter squash, even vertically so that might be something that has to be scratched from the list.

Make maximum use of space by succession planting things like radishes and greens whenever possible.  Also grow plants that are good rapid producers – many beans will produce quickly and often with regular picking.

Gardeners and cooks alike can find an easy and tasty win by growing and using radishes. Make the most of this early & easy to crop for gardens of all sizes.

How Long is the Growing Season?

If you live in zone 4b like I do, you’re not going to be able to grow peanuts.  You will, however; be able to grow lots of greens and root vegetables and other things that ripen in about 90 days.

A common question for gardeners is, how much do I plant? When answering that, you should consider space, taste, climate, and preservation.

While you can push the season with covers and cold frames, it’s best not to do that on a huge basis.  Save the season extending for a few choice or prized things and plant the rest of your garden in what you can reasonably expect to grow between frosts.

Remember to keep track of varieties grown, days to harvest, and yield in a gardening notebook. These notes are invaluable as the garden is planned each year.

What Do You Eat?

There’s no point in planting a hundred foot row of asparagus if no one likes to actually eat asparagus.  Plant only the fruits and vegetables that will actually be eaten.  It’s good to try new things so plant small experimental rows of different vegetables and varieties each year. If it’s successful and tasty increase it in forthcoming years.

Is it Good Preserved?

When you keep a large garden, it’s good to keep an eye on things that will be eaten fresh versus things that are good preserved.  For instance, peas are much better fresh in my opinion, but beans are just fine canned for the winter.  That’s generally how we use what we grow.  It’s impossible for us to eat everything as it comes ripe without preserving some of it.

We decide what to eat fresh or preserve based on that fruit or vegetables particular tendencies.  Some examples:

Think of how your family eats, are they likely to eat canned greens?  Probably not.  They might, however, be willing to eat home-canned salsa and pickles or  pressure-canned carrots.

These are of course my favorite tips but I have no doubt I could have missed something, so when you’re planning your garden, how do you decide how much to plant?

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Denise Teitsworth

Sunday 3rd of February 2019

Love the photo of Halupki! MMMMM!

Yanic

Thursday 10th of April 2014

Also, if you are Zone 4 (like we are) you may enjoy this book : It has become quite a bible in our house : http://www.amazon.com/The-Year-Round-Vegetable-Gardener-Matter/dp/1603425683/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1397151300&sr=8-1&keywords=gardening+year+round

Yanic

Thursday 10th of April 2014

Great post! as we are slowly expanding our gardens (we are at 800 sq,ft, going into 1500 this summer) what and how much are always a concern. Have you tried freezing your peas fresh? That is what we do and they thaw almost as good as fresh!

I really enjoy your blog. Great job!

Rachelle

Monday 24th of March 2014

This is a good post! Only caution I would say is you need to not stack your canning jars one on top the other as if there is something wrong with the jar beneth and the lid pops the weight of the jar on top could resael it and you could give your self food poisioning or even like in the case of green beans kill your self. www.sbcanning.com is a good resource for finding out about safe canning pratice. Was glad to see you remove the bands from your caning jars-also for the same reason. Keep up the wonderful posts!

Honey Rowland

Monday 24th of March 2014

Way I see it...you plant as much as you possibly can! ;) These are great garden tips. I think a lot of folks forget vertical space so that's a great reminder!

~Honey

Rebecca | LettersFromSunnybrook.com

Monday 24th of March 2014

We have a big garden, and space to enlarge it. Each year I make decisions based on the things you mentioned, how much we actually used the year before, and also how much was actually produced by our particular plants. Some have been a complete flop in our garden, while others have produced so much it went to the chickens.

I am a big zucchini fan and always sad when those are gone, so I'll be planting extra this year and using your idea of shredding and freezing them!

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