This is a common question asked by many people who are new to gardening or are looking to expand their gardening efforts.
The answer will look different for everyone. Though this won’t be a straightforward answer, I can give you proven tips to consider to find your perfect answer for your particular situation.
Whether you want to grow a garden for the first time this year, or you are considering ditching the grocery store and moving to the gardening big leagues, you’ll want to think your garden size through.
How Many Vegetables to Plant?
|Crops||Harvest Needed/Person (lbs)||Harvest Needed (lbs)||Avg. Yield per 100 feet (lb)||Plants Spacing (in)||Row Length (ft)||Plants Needed|
How Much Garden Space Do You Need?
To find the ideal size of your vegetable garden, please check the box on plants you want to grow from the list above. We’ll then calculate the required size automatically.
Disclaimer: The numbers in the table above may not be 100% accurate because vegetable consumption varies by family and the amount of yield for each plant is affected by many factors including soil quality, water, weather, pests/diseases problem, location, etc. Use the calculator only as a rough estimation and adjust the numbers according to your needs.
Now, if you want to have a more accurate estimation, here are the 10 considerations for deciding your vegetable garden size:
1. What is Your Gardening Purpose?
We all have a purpose for growing a garden. It could be to have an outdoor hobby, to raise fresh food on a budget, to preserve food for the year to come or to have a few fresh items for a summer salad or sandwich.
Whatever your reason is, you need to know before you get started. This will make a difference in what size garden you need.
If you are only growing for a hobby or for a few fresh veggies when you desire them, you’ll want a smaller garden than someone who is growing food for the year.
Consider this before you move on. This way you can put the rest of these questions into perspective.
2. How Many People Are You Trying to Feed?
If you are a single person, you won’t need the same size garden as a family of four. If you are a family of four, you’ll need a smaller garden than a family of six.
Obviously, how many people you are aiming to feed will have an impact on your garden size. I will give you rough estimates of how many square feet each person might use in your garden later in this article.
For now, you need to consider how many people you are intent on feeding. In our first years gardening, I didn’t think this part through. I would only consider the people under my roof.
In some cases, this may work, but not in our case. I failed to realize how frequently my mother-in-law had dinner with us throughout the week and didn’t include her in my calculations.
Now, I support my parents as well as my immediate family. I’ve learned from my previous calculation failures to include them when planning my gardening space.
You may not feed an extended family, but if you entertain or participate in potlucks regularly, you should take this into consideration when planning your garden.
3. Are You Eating Fresh or Preserving Your Garden?
If you are planning on eating fresh produce straight out of your garden, you won’t need as large of a garden as someone who is planning on preserving your harvest.
Canning requires plenty of produce. The upside to canning is it cuts down on the groceries you must purchase throughout the year.
In this case, if you are a single person wanting to can tomatoes for the year, you’d need to plant multiple tomato plants.
However, if the same single person wanted a few fresh tomatoes for sandwiches only, you’d only need one plant.
Obviously, these two scenarios require different spacing requirements. If you hadn’t considered preserving your harvest, do some research before you go any further in planning the size of your garden.
4. Will You Be Succession Planting?
If you plan on using the same garden space to plant multiple vegetables, you may not need as much space if the growth times are different.
For example, if you want to grow peas and green beans in the same year, you could do this in the same garden bed.
The reason is peas are planted in February (depending on your planting zone.) Green beans are planted later and love the nitrogen peas add to the soil.
Therefore, when the peas are finished, you can use the same space to plant green beans. This means you wouldn’t need as large of a garden space because they are grown in succession instead of simultaneously.
If you are working with limited gardening space, consider trying succession planting to be able to grow more in the space you have.
5. Will You Grow Multiple Gardens this Season?
We grow multiple gardens on our property per season. Instead of using one large garden plot, I break down our needs into multiple gardens.
Are you planning on doing the same?
Accordingly, you will need less garden space per garden. If you are planning on growing one larger garden, you’ll need to take this into consideration when planning what size it should be.
The positive to growing multiple gardens in a season is if you have a larger family, or if you are planning on growing produce to sell, you can divide out which bed is for what.
In our case, I raise a garden bed for my family, one for my extended family, and one to sell produce. It makes organization much easier.
However, if you are growing a large garden to feed your family and for preserving food, you may not find this layout useful. It will depend on your situation.
6. Will You Grow Multiple Gardens this Year?
The next item to consider is will you grow multiple gardens this year? You can grow a spring garden filled with lettuce, spinach, cabbage, and peas.
You can grow a summer garden filled with tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, and peppers. Then finish out the year by growing a fall garden with cabbage, squash, and root vegetables.
If this is your plan, you may not need as large of a garden, even if you do plan on preserving your harvest.
The more you grow, the more food you will have to put in your pantry or root cellar. You won’t need as much of each to meet your food necessities for the year.
In our case, I use all three of our garden plots for the summer, but I only use one of the garden plots for spring and fall.
Take this into consideration when deciding on garden size.
7. What are You Growing?
This is the most obvious of things to consider when planning on how large of a garden you need. You will need to plan out what you want to grow.
If you are planning on growing tomatoes and peppers, they don’t need as much room as lettuce and cabbage.
Why? Because you can stake up tomatoes to keep them from sprawling out. Whereas cabbage will fill out according to the spacing it is given.
It is a good idea to write down all the vegetables you’d like to grow and compare their spacing needs and how well they do in your zone to narrow down what you will grow in your garden.
From there, you can decide how much space each plant needs and revisit previous questions to decide how many of each plant you’ll need to plant in your garden.
8. Don’t Let the Vines Fool You
One thing throws people through a loop when planning garden spacing; when they want to grow a vine vegetable. Many people love to grow their own melons, squash, pumpkins, and cucumbers.
But they get discouraged because these items take up a great deal of room if included in your garden space and not everyone has the room to have a sprawling garden.
Don’t be discouraged. Instead, know vine vegetables can be grown in raised garden beds to make containing them easier.
Also, you can place the vines near a trellis and train the vines to crawl up it. This way, they aren’t taking up precious needed garden space, and you don’t have to give up growing things you love.
9. Different Levels of Gardening Require Different Spacing
If you are new to gardening, you may have big aspirations. Maybe you want to grow food to eat fresh, can your own vegetables, and get away from grocery shopping.
I applaud this, but I encourage you to not bite off too much. If you are new to gardening and do take on too much responsibility, you might get disheartened if everything becomes too much.
With this in mind, I wanted to give you some guidelines on a good size for gardening and also some square footage ideas to help you figure out how much garden might work for your family size.
Even if you can’t take all your dreams on in year one, you’ll have an idea of a good place to start and where your goals are for the future.
If you are a beginner gardener, it is a good idea to start with a 10×10 garden. This gives you 100 square feet of garden space. You can also maximize this by practicing square foot gardening.
In this amount of space, you can plant three to five different types of vegetables and include three to five of each type. This won’t keep you stocked on groceries for the year, but it will give you fresh vegetables to enjoy during the warmer months.
If you are in the ‘middle of the road’ with gardening (meaning you aren’t new to the idea, but you are far from a pro), you will want to consider creating a garden which gives you anywhere from 300-500 square feet of gardening space.
The idea is to give 100 square feet of gardening space per individual you plan on feeding out of your garden.
Finally, if you are an advanced gardener, give 200 square feet of gardening space to everyone you plan on feeding out of your garden. This should give you both fresh vegetables and vegetables to preserve.
10. Mix Up Your Gardening Styles
Those numbers I gave you in the previous section might seem disheartening if you are working with a small amount of space to garden.
However, I want to encourage you. Don’t feel you have to garden in a traditional fashion to produce your own food.
Instead, begin looking into alternative gardening styles, such as container gardening, to produce your food.
In fact, consider mixing gardening styles to accommodate the most food possible. You could plant a smaller garden plot and utilize the square foot gardening method. You could add a few raised beds around your property as well.
If you have any space left on your patio or deck, add containers to finish out any additional food you want to grow.
Don’t feel like you must stay within certain boundaries. Once you figure out how much space you need to grow your food, mix and match gardening styles until you come up with adequate grow space which will fit on your property.
Well, you now have 10 things you need to consider when deciding how much growing space you need. In a nutshell, you will need anywhere from 100-200 square feet of growing space per person you intend on feeding.