How to Figure # of Plants for Next Years Garden

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Brandy, Dec 14, 2005.

  1. Brandy

    Brandy Active Member

    Dec 5, 2005
    I saw the thread about next years garden and it got me thinking....Next year will be my first real garden, although growing up I had huge gardens with grandma in the country. In fact, we didn't even use a hose, we had a pump and filled 5 gallon buckets and then dipped a small container to water plants. Last year I just grew a few things, nothing big....but this year....even though I'm on a city lot, I have grand plans. In fact, I informed dbf, he may not have to complain about cutting all our grass next year, b/c it'll all be planted..... planning what to plant, I'm just curious what others do. For instance w/tomatoes - I want to can, freeze, juice and have enough for the whole year. So, how many plants does that equal? (I'm Italian, so tomatoes are the most used garden food). With beets, we want to have 4 beets/wk, which I'm thinking is over 200, but to account for failures, how many should I plant.....

    Just curious how everyone figures this out.

    Thanks bunches!
  2. Marcia in MT

    Marcia in MT Well-Known Member Supporter

    May 11, 2002
    northcentral Montana
    Well, we generally work off of experience . . . and how much energy we have at the time!

    Check with your local extension office. The Montana one has publications of how much of what to plant depending on what you want to do with it (fresh eating for how many people vs. canning for how many people), and I'm sure other states do, too. Some of the seed catalogs used to have some of this information, too.

  3. JAK

    JAK Well-Known Member

    Oct 15, 2005
    New Brunswick
    I think the extreme case for intensive vegetable gardening is 500 calories/sqft/year, though you are doing well at 100 calories/sqft/summer for an outdoor vegetable garden. 200 beets at 35cal/beet is 7000cal, or 42 sqft assuming 4 months of growing beets. So you would double that again to be sure. Tomatoes are about the same calories per, but it sounds like you want more, perhaps 84 sqft, and you would need practice to get up to full productivity. In an extreme case of 500cal/day from garden vegetables you would need 360 sqft of year round greenhouse, which requires expensive infrastructure, or perhaps 1600 to 3600 sqft of 6 months of intense summer gardening, which is a garden between 40'x40' to 60'x60'. In my own experience it is way better to start with 3 4'x4' raised beds, and then add more rasied beds each year. I you do well you still might realize only 100 calories per sqaure feet over the summer, or 200 calories per week for 24 weeks, but in time you will get better and improve your productivity and your acreage. Home gardeners are usually limited more by time than space.
  4. BeckyW

    BeckyW Well-Known Member

    Mar 10, 2003
    Stop by your county agricultural extension office. First, they will have (or should have!) a chart prepared for you on planting dates for each each crop in your area. Now, these dates are based on standard varieties - if you're planting say, seed from Johnny's Seeds of Albion, Maine, you may be able to push those dates earlier and later in the season since they specialize in cool germination varieties.

    Second, they may also have a sheet on planting quantities recommended per person. If not (and I don't have the book in front of me) I think that chart also appears in Joy of Gardening, an excellent book on wide-bed/raised row gardening that was written back in the 1970's. You might want to check it out from your local library then decide if it's a must-have for you. (Amazon may still carry it and I'm sure you can buy it on ebay.)

    Since this is your first garden, you'll be experimenting a bit. Tendency is to way over-plant on the first garden -- who can resist all those tempting varieties?! Key is, don't plant bigger than you can keep up with.

    And since you are new to gardening, may I recommend especially keeping a garden journal: when and what was planted where, with specifics on varieties. A garden journal can ramp you up to expert in just a few seasons!

  5. uncle Will in In.

    uncle Will in In. Well-Known Member Supporter

    May 11, 2002
    Just don't let you wishes overload your hoe. You will need to kill the sod that your BF mows before you can plant. Easiest way would be smother it out with black plastic starting now.
    Bear in mind that gardens don't do well in shade. After you know how much space you will have you can put it on a grid so you can really see what all you will have room for. The best advice from here is that a well cared for medium sized garden will yield more than a big one that is too much to tend properly. A common mistake with starting out is planting too much.
  6. jeffreyc256

    jeffreyc256 Well-Known Member

    Sep 24, 2005
    I don't know how to list the link but google "planting guide for home gardening in alabama". The site lists every vegetable, how many plants per 100 foot row, days to maturity from seed or transplant, planting dates, fertilizer etc. It is a good start that can be modified to your zone
  7. sylvar

    sylvar Well-Known Member

    Nov 1, 2004
    I just want to second what BeckyW said. The Joy of Gardening, by Dick Raymond has some excellent planning guides in it. I always refer to it when I am trying to figure out how much to plant.

  8. The book Shane mentioned, the Joy of Gardening, also has some very good information on how to raise the vegetables. After reading that book it changed my ways of gardening and feel am now a more efficient gardener.

    If you're just getting into gardening I would recommend this book to help you get started.
  9. Thoughthound

    Thoughthound Well-Known Member

    Oct 13, 2004
    Can't help with tomatoes, but, 1 foot (in a row) of salad greens equals about 4 ounces at maturity. 8 ounces (2 feet) loosely fills a one gallon ice cream container and usually provides 2 big salads or 4 dinner sized salads.
  10. amwitched

    amwitched Well-Known Member

    Feb 14, 2004
    I really feel that your outcome will also depend on the weather. My 2004 garden had 6 tomato plants and I made so much salsa, sauce, sandwiches, etc and gave away a whole bunch, too. We had a record rainfall for the year.
    My 2005 garden did not do as well. I had over 20 tomato plants and ended up making only 12 or so jars of salsa as well as some sandwiches at the end of the season. Our rainfall this past year was well below normal.

    I say plant a bunch and hope for the best. You can always give away the excess.
  11. Fire-Man

    Fire-Man Well-Known Member Supporter

    Apr 29, 2005
    South Carolina

    Experience is the best, because you can plant 100 sqft of something and it might produce more or less in your area than mine. I had a friend that grew 1 tomato plant per year--Better boy, and he would get between 300 to 400 nice size tomato's off of it-------I have never gotton 100 off one of mine. Plant what you feel you can handle---I planted 92 tomato plants year before last---------way to many for a single man---------I planted 150ft row of cucumbers and 100ft row of squash that same year---LOL------That was a Laugh---felt I had to use the seed up in the pack--not anymore. Plant what you feel you can handle, plant early, then you could probably plant more later if you feel you need to. If you plant to much----Open a Produce stand. Randy
  12. hisenthlay

    hisenthlay a.k.a. hyzenthlay

    Feb 23, 2005
    Southwestern PA
    I agree, EXCEPT, be careful not to overcrowd. It's so tempting on a small lot, because you're so enthusiastic and you want to make the most out of the little space you have. I'm guilty of this every time I plant something, and I always kick myself for it and swear I won't do it again. You don't have to use the whole seed packet! Your productivity will go way down overall if you crowd. Seriously. Two years ago, I planted 6 bell pepper seedlings in a tiny space (it looked like a big space when they were seedlings!! that's how it happens!), and I probably got 3 or 4 peppers per plant all season. Terrible. This year I planted 3 in that spot (still too many), and I got maybe 15 peppers per plant. Not great, but much better. That's just one example--I could give you plenty more.

    Also, considering that you're on a city lot, I imagine you'll be using containers some. Don't skimp on the size of containers! Being potbound is one thing, and easy enough to deal with, but the bigger problem is that the plants will become dehydrated too easily (even if you water 2x a day like I did this summer), and their growth will be stunted, and they will produce much less. This year, I'm going over almost entirely to big pots (18" diameter or greater) and wooden garden boxes (built only one so far, 6' by 3' by 3'). Shipping crates make great garden boxes, if you can find them.

    I'm also going to experiment with lasagna gardening this year, to increase yields, hopefully.

    So, I can't answer your initial question, except to say that you can't think in terms of numbers alone--productivity per plant is also a huge variable.

    Good luck!

    P.S. Thanks everyone for the Joy of Gardening tip--I saw it for $.51 on Amazon just now!
  13. ladycat

    ladycat Chicken Mafioso Staff Member

    Oct 18, 2005
    N. TX/ S. OK
    Oh my, that's a few... :rolleyes:

    When I plant squash, I have one or two plants.

    My brother and SIL planted 2 or 3 hills of squash this past summer, and we were ALL buried in squash. I didn't plant any myself. But that's ok. I still had lots extra for the chickens from my brother's surplus.

    I had, I think it was 4 bell pepper plants this past summer, and we were all buried in bell peppers. I'm going to grow more than 4 plants this coming year, though, because I have a market for organic bells. Anyone happen to know which seed company has the best rainbow mix of bell peppers?
  14. Wolf mom

    Wolf mom Well-Known Member

    Mar 8, 2005
    Appalachian Foothills
    After reading other threads, lots of corn! Really now, having to register to get feed for my girls. :eek:

    I'll plant the 3 sisters, more asparagas & strawberries, blueberry bushes. Everthing I like & I'll freeze it. I want to build a greenhouse this spring, but will start seeds in my kitchen.

    I can't believe how expensive vegies were/are in my area.