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Having trouble knowing how much to plant

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Having trouble knowing how much to plant

Post  Miss Mousie on 12/3/2010, 2:38 am

I've played around with my experimental garden this fall and have learned that I need more basil, parsley, spinach and lettuce than I had. I had 3 basil plants but only one produced at a normal rate. I bought "ugly" plants from the nursery as that was all that was available during the late summer. I think that 3 normal plants might be sufficient for my family of 2.

Can anyone shed any light on how much they plant of any given veggie (or herb) for their size family. Like if you grow tomatoes just for salads and such for a family of 2, 3, 4 or how many, how many plants do you plant. I'm just curious to know how much to grow. I want to make a strawberry tower for next spring but some of the plans I've seen tell me I could have 45 - 100 plants. If I mainly want to have them for an occasional dessert this seems like an awful lot. Of course I could freeze or can them (have to learn how first). I plan to plant one zucchini plant because I've heard that one plant will cause you to have zucchini coming out of your ears.

Or if you are semi new to gardening too, did you wish that you had more or less of anything in your garden?

If someone has addressed this already, please point me in the right direction to that discussion.


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Re: Having trouble knowing how much to plant

Post  happyfrog on 12/3/2010, 5:18 am

personally what i did/do is to grow my favorite stuff first - and because i have ocd tendencies, i know how many cans of tomatoes i use in a year, how many green peppers i purchase, how many bags of onions, potatoes, well you get the idea. it's both a wonderful and annoying trait of mine. *grin*

then what i did was ask at hte garden center, read books, did research, etc on my favorite fruits/veg first to find out average yields per plant.

that's how i decided how many plants to plant.

and it's worked for me. but really for basic rule of thumb, mel's book is right.

one 4sx4 per person for daily usage during the season, add'l 4x4 for fruits, add'l 4x4 for storage. this is per person. and of course has assumption of continuous planting.

re: strawberries - first year you will get near to nothing. next year you will get at least 3 fruit per plant (depends on variety - some produce more, some less per plant). how much is a serving of fruit to you? this all comes into play. a dozen plants will probably be 'just right' for occasional treat. but if you plan on baking several pies, you'll need a few dozen plants - to figure in for nibblign as well as baking for 2 people.

1-2 tomato plants and green pepper plants will probably be right - for 2 people daily usage - assuming you use one- 2 green peppers/week in summer and don't have little people who like to walk by and snack on green peppers.

it's really hard to decide for someone else how many plants befcause there's so many personal factors that come into play.

do you plan on canning/freezing/storing produce? that will definitely affect the answer.

i have 64 squares set aside just for 'fun' and new stuff - so we grow things we wouldn't normally buy - like swiss chard, nasturtiums, borage, brussel sprouts, kohlrabi, etc. i expand my garden every year. started wtih 3 4x4's and now have several times that. this hobby is very addicting - it's so easy to 'fix' even if you neglect it for a while!

i do hope i was helpful a bit.


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Re: Having trouble knowing how much to plant

Post  acara on 12/3/2010, 6:56 am

I plant everything I can & just count on giving away anything excess.

However, your tomato and pepper estimates look a little "light". Both are plants with longer maturity dates (especially the peppers). So if your looking for a "nightly salad", you might want to have a few more plants, or a few more varieties, or stagger your planting dates to get "continuous production".

I had six pepper plants going this season & barely managed to keep my small family (3) supplied.

On the tomatoes ..... I have at least 4 cherry varieties (minimum) going at all times & have 10 cherry tomato plants going ATM (and still can't put 2 full salads on the table every night).

On the larger tomatoes, staggered planting and different varieties are the way to go IMHO. The hybrids aren't as tasty, but are a lot more predictable on the maturity dates & the heirlooms will make you absolutely crazy if you try to plan "when will I have fruit" in advance.

I grow spinach too .... and can never have enough.

I should probably point out though .... I'm part-rabbit & could eat salad for all 3 meals every day, so my consumption is probably not typical.


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How much to plant?

Post  ander217 on 12/3/2010, 7:58 am

An estimate is all you can do because every growing year is different. One year your corn will produce two ears per plant and the next year a heat wave at the wrong time will kill the pollen and you'll be lucky to get half a dozen ears total.

Regarding basil, I direct-seed my basil. It may take a little longer to grow but it's cheaper and I have a larger selection of variety. Occasionally pinch out the ends of each branch even if you don't use all the basil, and your plants will bush out and produce much more.

Regarding strawberries, - there are three types, June bearers, Everbearers, and Day-length neutrals. June bearers produce a really large crop of flavorful berries in spring and then there are no more until the next year. Everbearers produce a smaller crop in spring and another smaller crop in fall. Day-length neutrals also produce smaller amounts of berries throughout the season that aren't as large or flavorful as June bearers, but are more dependable than Everbearers. That type might be better for you if you only want a few to eat along rather than a lot to make jam or put in the freezer. I have never grown strawberries in a tower, but when grown in a bed most varieties produce runners or "baby plants" which can be rooted and used to expand the bed so you could always plant a few and let the runners set in more levels until you get as many as you want. I always pinch out nearly all of the flowers the first year my June-bearer strawberries are planted. It's hard to do, but they will be stronger plants and produce more berries for more years if you do it. Everbearers should have the flowers pinched the first half of their first growing season but can produce a light harvest for fall. I'm not sure about day-length neutrals. There are also Alpine strawberries which produce intensely-flavored very small berries. They produce lightly all through the season and set few runners.

Regarding tomatoes - a lot depends on the variety and your growing season. One cherry tomato plant for us usually supplies enough to feed a small village. Large tomatoes are another thing. For us the old heirloom varieties taste by far the best but they produce by far the least, and disease tends to cut them down earlier. They have never produced enough for us to eat all we wanted of them. If you want to can a lot of tomatoes or juice, you might want to plant determinate varieties. They are sort of like the June bearer strawberries - they produce a lot of tomatoes all at once and then only a few after that. They are bush-type rather than vining and do well when tied up to a fence or shorter stake. They don't need to be trellised or pruned. Rutgers is an old determinate type developed for canning and the taste isn't too bad for a hybrid. Growing climate is important, too. A tomato developed for the cooler weather of the north probably won't do as well in the hot and humid south, and vice versa. You just have to experiment to find your favorite variety.

Regarding zucchini - I tried planting only one plant but it didn't produce as well. The flowers seldom seemed to grow the male and female flowers at the right times for pollination. I have better pollination when planting two or three plants. The squash vine borer gets them eventually, anyway, unless they are covered.

Regarding lettuce: Mel recommends making succession plantings of a few plants every couple of weeks or so rather than planting all your lettuce plants at once. You can also tuck later lettuce plants under larger plants where the lettuce will get a little shade in the warmer weather, but will be gone before the larger plant needs all the room. Regarding spinach - I've never been able to plant enough spinach. I don't think it can be done. Smile

Before you let all this information make your head spin, just remember that it's okay to try anything in your garden once. If you like it, plant more each succeeding year until you figure out how much you really need. If you don't like it don't plant it again. If you liked it but it didn't produce well, give it another try or two to see if it was the growing conditions of a particular year which made it fail. Nobody expects you to get it right the first time. I'm 55 years old, have gardened most of my life, and I'm still waiting to get it right, but I have hope it will happen some day. In the meantime, it's fun trying.


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Re: Having trouble knowing how much to plant

Post  Miss Mousie on 12/3/2010, 2:21 pm

It seems, gardening is very much a "your mileage may vary" kind of operation. I have so much to learn. I appreciate everyone taking the time to answer all of my newbie questions. I really need to start reading.

Your answers were what I was looking for, just to see what other peoples experiences were so I could guage what I should do but like you say it depends on my climate, my needs and just what mother nature will let happen.

I think I'm thinking too big at first. I have a 24' X 24' plot designated for my garden and in my garden plan I will eventually have 6 4X4 boxes, a strawberry tower and an asparagus box 8X2. I guess I want to plant it all right now. Well, we have to build all of those boxes, I only have 2 4X4's right now. I think I need to start slow. Perhaps build 2 more 4X4's and the asparagus box. I want to have one 4X4 dedicated to lettuce and spinach and other things that need shade from the hot sun we get here. I was planning to put a frame with shade cloth over it.

After reading over your posts again........I think, yes I need to read some books. I need to learn about yields and things, but this give me a place to start. Thanks!!!

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Re: Having trouble knowing how much to plant

Post  boffer on 12/3/2010, 4:16 pm

After five years, here is what has evolved for me, for two adults, mostly due to my weather, interest, and laziness. I can grow most cool crops and root crops every summer. This year I grew 16 squares of carrots, beets 22, potatoes 60, onions 10, turnips 10, and garlic 12. That will last us till next April or so. Broccoli, BS, greens, etc, we eat fresh during the growing season, but we don't put any up. I probably had 40 squares at any given time of that stuff growing, in some combination.

Warm crops are a treat for me. I have a 'corn patch' that is not SFG, 8x25 feet. In a good weather summer, we'll eat corn for lunch and supper every day it's in season, and we'll freeze enough to last through the winter. In a bad summer, like 2010, we got so little from the same space, that we had to ration ourselves to make the harvest last longer than a week. And we didn't put any up. This summer I planted 25 squares of tomatoes and peppers. I didn't get enough harvest to warrant a picture. In a good year, we eat tomatoes like apples, put up dozens of jars of toms and salsa, and still have enough to give away. We typically will have 30 winter squash plants; that will last us through most of the winter.

Maybe that gives you some ideas, or maybe not. Folks have lots of reasons for starting a garden. If they stay at it a couple years, the reasons for them to continue gardening are narrowed down and more defined for their preferences and circumstances. Is it to save money, eat organically, challenge the weather, novelty food, etc. They also become more realistic about the time involved to grow, prep, cook, or store different veggies. And, they begin to understand that gardening is a humbling experience!


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Re: Having trouble knowing how much to plant

Post  Ha-v-v on 12/3/2010, 4:27 pm

Having trouble knowing how much to plant

I love this thread !!! I will be reading this more than once Smile I had this issue last year, still cant tell you how much I need though !! Time will help me Wink


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Re: Having trouble knowing how much to plant

Post  acara on 12/3/2010, 4:43 pm

Another thing that helps is your outlook ....

I'd like to think I can grow "personal use" tomatoes & keep up with about anyone ..... SFG was just a new "tool" in the tomato-growing-toolbox.

Over the years I've planted two plants & been swimming in tomatoes ..... and I've planted 25 plants & found myself at the corner produce stand to supplement my tomato fetish...... it's all a crap-shoot.

Mother nature always finds a way to keep me humble, regardless of my efforts and/or experience.

If you look at gardening as a "recreational activity" that could possibly yield something edible as a bonus..... and consider everything edible as a "gift" .... you'll never be disappointed.

FWIW .... I've NEVER met any published "yield" for something I grew ...even tomatoes; so I gave up reading the "yield" figures and just planted what I could get, afford and maintain.

In reply to your other question on the herbs ..... I have four, 4" pots (1-Oregano, 1-Basil, 1-sweet basil and 1-Rosemary), 1 small bowl of mint and one small bowl of dill.

"By the books".... there is no way that should be enough for all of the herbs we cook with ... but somehow it is ... and somehow I have a bag of herbs to give away almost every week.


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Re: Having trouble knowing how much to plant

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