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How much space will I need

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How much space will I need

Post  Kat4 on 3/11/2013, 2:11 pm

Hi! I'm new here. I have a 1981 edition of Mel's book and plan to get the newest edition so maybe how to figure this answer would be in there for me. Or if there is some sort of a calculator online, please point me to it.

I'm trying to decide how many sq ft I'm going to need. We are a family of 5 and I can plus dehydrate. We are going from a 30x70 row garden to this method. I must say though, that 30x70 is on poor poor clay soil and seemed to grow more weeds than anything. So I certainly never got the kind of harvest from it that I should have. But I was still able to put up 48 quarts of green beans plus eat them all summer and that was with neglecting them. I'd love to be able to match that or exceed it with this method.

My goal would be to have enough that we can eat all summer plus put up enough stuff to last us most of the winter.

Must haves for our family include tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, carrots, radishes, onions, cabbage, broccoli, spinach, cucumbers, green beans and peas. But I'd also like to include watermelon, lettuce, beets, corn and squash plus several herbs. Also, we are thinking of putting as many boxes as possible on our deck. Would 6 inch deep boxes be enough or should we go with 8 for the ones that will be on the deck?

Can anyone give me an estimate of how many square feet I'd be looking at to feed us plus put up a crop for winter? I believe the old book says 8 4x4 boxes could feed a family of four but I don't think that was including putting any up for winter.


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Re: How much space will I need

Post  RoOsTeR on 3/11/2013, 3:08 pm

Kat, I saw you ordered the new book. Way to go! It will help you and your planning a ton Wink


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Re: How much space will I need

Post  Kat4 on 3/11/2013, 3:22 pm

I take it that how to figure up the space needed will be in the new book then. Hope it gets here soon! Very Happy


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Re: How much space will I need

Post  Tris on 3/11/2013, 4:57 pm

Check out smartgardener.com, you can plug in how many family members you have and what you want to plant and it'll tell you how much of each Very Happy It also gives the planting times for your location Very Happy
The book didn't spell out how much I would need like the smartgardener site does Very Happy

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Re: How much space will I need

Post  Kat4 on 3/11/2013, 6:08 pm

Awesome! Thank you! Very Happy

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Re: HOw much space will I need

Post  GloriaG on 3/12/2013, 12:27 am

Hi Kat4,

Welcome to the forum. As you probably realize, every family requires a different amount of SFG space based on family members age, eating habits, vegetables you plan to grow, etc.

However, as a starting point, the All New SFG book suggests approximately 3 4x4 beds are enough per person. One 4x4 for "salad greens", one for other vegetables and one for vegetables you want to can/store. That's approximately 50 square feet per (adult) person.

If this is your first SFG, you may want to start with a smaller garden until you've gained a bit of experience, than add space until you have enough for all your needs.

Quite a few forum members have established SFG's and hopefully will chime in here to tell you how many square feet they have for their families. FWIW - We have approximately 225 sq ft which regularly feeds 3 adults plus our guests, with plenty left over to freeze and share with our neighbors.

Hope this helps,


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Re: How much space will I need

Post  Kat4 on 3/12/2013, 1:01 am

Thanks, Gloria.

I think I had read about the 50 sq ft per adult somewhere.
I'm thinking that we will start out with a total of 8 4x4 boxes for this year. I know that won't give me the complete harvest I'd like but we do have a couple local farmers markets I can take advantage of also.

The kids (all teenagers so they should be able to handle a 4x4) are each going to take care of one box of their own. Two of them have been busy like crazy planning their boxes pouring over my Baker Creek catalog, reading descriptions and picking just the right varieties. They seem to be doing a better job at planning then I'm managing.

One thing I'm still wondering about, but the new book will probably answer it. Will boxes 6in deep that will be on my deck be ok? I think I read on the site somewhere that for ones on the ground 6in was ok but 8in was even better. So thinking 8 might be best for ones on the deck also. We have a large deck open to the sun on every side but the east. I plan to take advantage of that since our yard is nothing but hills, and flat spots already have buildings on them or are clear on the other side of our 6 acres. For this year we are going to buy the pre-mixed bags of Mel's mix. To do more than 6in in 8 boxes is going to start getting pretty pricey for us.

And thanks again for the info.


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Re: How much space will I need

Post  Turan on 3/12/2013, 1:06 am

Welcome Kat Smile
How far apart are your rows in the 30x70 garden? And how wide are the rows (do you use wide rows planting a swath, or single plants in a row)

Take that information and then subtract out the area between rows (the paths). That will give you the size of your growing space garden in square foot terms. I am making a guess that you are looking at 700 square feet, which is huge. Next is to get an idea of how much smaller can you go with the focusing of nutrients in SFG. I am guessing you will need 350 sf eventually because you want to eat from it all year round.

Maybe you can start with one enhanced bed (I started with a bed of greens). Take the regular garden and organize it into beds or 3-4' wide rows, focus your amendments and watering into those areas and organize your planting as if SFG. This alone can do wonders to make a garden more productive and easier to work. The 1981 edition has a lot of helpful advice in how to do this. Then in following years you can add more enhanced beds if you want.

I have about 220sf for a family of 4 at home now. I only can and freeze a little though. I would like to add about 50sf more just to have more for preserving. I used to have 15x100 with wide rows and did a lot of canning and freezing and storing potatoes etc.

Good luck Cool


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