Don’t Over Do these Veggie Plants

by Ken Lain, the mountain gardener

This week we start the official planting season in the summer vegetable gardens.  Tomato demonstrations, garden classes on growing your own groceries, non-GMO radio interviews, organic talks with a HUGE buildup of vegetable plants at the garden center marks this weekend as the start of planting season.

Lisa and I have always gardened for a family of six, that’s no small feat.  Just how many plants are needed and how much space should be dedicated to these edibles is a challenging mental exercise.  The vegetable planting guide that follows was created years ago and should be a help for just how many plants are needed to feed the family.  Of course, this chart does not include the edible flower harvest from the garden.

Scarecrow in the garden

How much of each vegetable to plant also depends on the size and layout of your garden. You generally get more produce in a small space if you garden in wide rows.

200 sq.ft. of garden space per person is a good place to start for most gardeners.  That size garden will provide a lot of fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs for most of the year.  If you want to grow 100% of your food the garden space needed per family members is more like 400 sq.ft.

Knowing how much of each vegetable to plant is a bit trickier to calculate. That depends on how well things grow, which vegetables you prefer and how often you’ll be eating the vegetable produced. In truth, you won’t really know how many vegetables to plant for your family until you’ve got a few seasons experience in that garden. Even then, tastes change so will the crops you plant.

Some plants simply take up more space.  Artichokes, asparagus and rhubarb are perennial plants that take up space in the garden all season.

Vining crops, like squash, cucumbers and melons need room to spread out or up. On the other hand, many crops can be planted in succession, planting only a few feet of a row every 2-3 weeks so a new crop is continually emerging.  Succession planting can be dependent on the length of your growing season.

If space is an issue, try extending your harvest by planting different types of the same vegetable: early, mid and late maturing varieties in the same garden space.

The chart below is meant to give you some general guidelines for the most commonly grown vegetables. Of course, if you love peppers but dislike cabbage feel free to adjust the garden to your taste.

How Many Plants needed per Family of 4Veggie Chart

Until next time, I’ll see you among the organic vegetables here at Watters Garden Center.

Ken Lain can be found throughout the week at Watters Garden Center, 1815 W. Iron Springs Rd in Prescott, or contacted through his web site at or .