Plan How Many Vegetable Plants Per Person are Needed in Your Garden

Do you know how many vegetable plants per person are needed in your garden? These initial questions and garden calculations will help.

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by William Hook | Fickr

As home gardeners seeking to supplant part, or all, of grocery store purchases with homegrown produce need to be planning when you’re planting so you don’t plant too much of something you rarely eat and not enough of something you eat four times a week.  For our family, that means we need to plant lots of potatoes, corn, tomatoes, beans, and onions. It also means we shouldn’t plant too many squash (even though we enjoy it fresh, we don’t like it that much frozen).

Sit down and write down your favorite foods to eat, then decide how often you want to eat them each week and how much you consume in one meal. Multiply that by 52 weeks. This will give you how much of that food you eat each year.  There are charts — and even entire tools for your phone and tablet — that give you how many plants per person you should plant and how much each plant typically produces. Of course this is widely variable so you need to be flexible.

Examples for How Many Vegetable Plants Per Person to Plant for Your Family

Potatoes: 40 pounds planted = 400 pounds fresh. Larger, whole potatoes will be stored under our house in root cellar conditions. Smaller, damaged potatoes will be canned in soups.

Tomatoes: 45 to 50 plants = 300+ pounds. Eaten fresh, canned in water bath canner in sauces, relishes, salsas, tomato juice.

Corn: Eight 50-foot rows = 60 dozen ears. Eaten fresh, blanched and frozen off cob, also canned in corn relish.

These are just a few of the things we’re planting this year. Obviously, we can’t guarantee that they’ll produce because unfortunately gardening is subject to things beyond our control. But it is our job to plan! Planning for our harvest and preservation are vitally important to our success as homesteaders and gardeners.

How Much Should I Can for a Family?

After you’ve planned how much to plant then you need to plant exactly how to preserve it. Make certain you have all necessary tools and supplies to do the job correctly. For example to water bath can (think tomatoes, relishes, jams and jellies), you will need a large pot — stockpot, waterbath canner, or pressure canner without the weights put on — as well as jars, lids, rings, jar lifter and safe recipes.  If making jams and jellies, you will want a sure-gell or a recipe that doesn’t use it.

Make sure your lids are new but jars and rings can be reused.  If you’re using a glass-top stove, be sure your canner is safe for that.  The reason you can’t use certain canners on a glass-top stove is 1) the weight (All-American canners are too heavy) and 2) the size. Some canners are so much bigger than the burner that they can cause your stovetop to shatter from excess heat. Some pressure canners are approved for glass-top stoves. Read before you buy!

If you’re going to pressure can, make certain you have a pressure “canner”, not a “pressure cooker”. You must pressure can certain foods for safety.  Its not optional! So get a pressure canner if you want to can any low-acid foods like meat or vegetables (pickled veggies can be canned in a waterbath canner). They’re quite reasonable and you can get a good one for $100.  If you buy a used one, take it to the county extension office and have it checked. Get a new seal for it too.

Get your jars purchased now, along with lids and rings and anything else you don’t have. It’s not guaranteed that things will be in stock come harvest, so plan well and plan early for how many vegetable plants per person you need to plant and preserve.

Jenny Underwood is a homeschooling mom of four who lives in a fifth-generation homestead in the Missouri Ozarks, where she gardens, forages, hunts and preserves food for her family. Connect with Jenny at Our Inconvenient Family.

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  • Updated on Jun 3, 2022
  • Originally Published on Apr 2, 2022
Tagged with: Jenny Underwood, Missouri, planning