Sunday, March 3, 2013

How Much Seed Should You Buy?

Setting Your Garden Goal(s)

Deciding how much seed to purchase can be tricky when planning your vegetable garden.   First you must know what your intentions are with your garden. 

Will your garden provide a little extra fresh produce during the spring and summer season?  Or do you hope to preserve enough food to feed your family until the next year's garden is producing?  Or perhaps you hope to do something in between the two extremes. 

What Will You Eat?

I find that I can easily get carried away when planning my garden.  The garden catalog(s) are so beautiful and the varieties are intoxicating!  It is fun to try new veggies but it's not cool to discover that you must go to the grocery store to purchase the good ol' favorites because you didn't plant enough to get you through the season.

Some places to find seeds are ~

Survival Seed Vault - Heirloom Emergency Survival Seeds - Plant a Full Acre Crisis Victory Garden - 20 Easy-to-grow Varieties

The Heirloom Life Gardener: The Baker Creek Way of Growing Your Own Food Easily and Naturally

It has worked well for us to follow an 80/20 ratio when purchasing seeds and planting our garden.   Approximately 80% of what we grow are our favorite, time-tested standbys.  20% are new to our garden, either vegetables or herbs we've not grown before, or a new variety of a vegetable we've grown in the past.

How Much Seed to Purchase?

There are multiple on-line sources to help you decide how much seed to plant.  But I've yet to find a site that will tell you exactly how much to plant per person.  I thought I would take some time to give you guidelines but after putting much thought to it, I've realized I can't tell you either!   

Some of our seed stash

I can tell you what we plant approximately.  Hopefully this will give you an idea of how much you should plant.

Our Family Numbers

We have eight members in our family.  Our family consists of - two adults, two teenage boys that eat as much or more than an adult, two preteen daughters that eat as much as I do at times, a seven year old little boy that exists on air and water alone, and a two year little girl who loves veggies.   Plus we feed lunch to 7 or 9 daycare children 5 days a week. 

Our garden goal is to produce all of our family's produce for each year.  Of course the zone we live in causes us to purchase some things like bananas, oranges and avocado.  And we've not gotten our greenhouse finished so if we want a fresh salad in the off season, we must purchase that produce.

Here is an list of what we generally plant -
  • Tomatoes - 50 to 60 plants (a mixture of paste tomatoes and large beefy style) - We eat fresh, can, dehydrate and sometimes freeze.
  • Hot Peppers - 10 to 12 plants - Eat Fresh, pickle and dehydrate
  • Bell Peppers - 15 plants - Eat fresh and freeze
  • Summer Squash - 25 plants - Eat fresh, pickle and freeze
  • Winter Squash - 30 to 35 plants - Eat fresh, cellar storage and freeze
  • Swiss Chard - 100 plants - Eat fresh and freeze
  • Spinach - 100 plants - Eat fresh and freeze
  • Green Beans - 4 lbs worth of different varieties - Eat fresh, freeze, can and pickle
  • Dried Beans - 4 lbs worth of different varieties - Dry for soups, etc.
  • Cucumbers - 30 plants -  Eat fresh and pickle
  • Okra - 25 to 30 plants - Eat fresh, freeze and pickle
  • Snap Peas - 30 to 40 plants (not a big staple in our home) - Eat fresh
  • Potatoes - For some reason we've not had much luck with potatoes, so this will be an area of improvement this year.  I'm planning on planting at least 5 lbs per person plus a little extra.  I figure I'll plant at least 50 lbs. - Cellar Storage for use throughout year
  • Corn - We have approximately 10 lbs of corn from saved seed.  Last year, we ate very little of our corn harvest but instead let it go to the point of seed.  I really don't know how much we'll plant or end up with as corn is fairly new to our garden.  I will keep you posted.  You should keep in mind that corn tends to produce one or two ears per plant when considering how much to plant for your family.  Our family loves corn so much that we could probably plant an acre and still consume it all in a year's time! Eat fresh, freeze and can
  • Watermelons - 10 plants - Eat Fresh
  • Cantaloupe - 10 plants - Eat Fresh
  • Carrots - Seeds are so small, and we've been saving our carrot seeds for many years now.  So I'm afraid I can't tell you anything other than we put approximately 3 to 5 seeds every square inch and plant an entire 4 ft by 8 ft plot.   We also plant some carrots around the tomatoes as they make good companion plants.  We usually plant about 2 cups of saved seeds.  I'm really not sure how many seed packets that would be.  We eat carrots through the summer and put the rest up by freezing, dehydrating and pickling.  
  • Onions - We go through about 4 large onions a week in our house.  52 weeks x 4 = 208 onions.  In the past, we've grown half that and always wished we'd planted more.  This year, we'll plant approximately 250 to allow for some loss to weather, bugs, etc.   Cold storage, freezing and dehydration
  • Garlic - We've grown garlic just for fun in the past.  We'll plant about 50 cloves this year and see how far that takes us.
There will be other odds and ends of things we will plant but these are the mainstays of our garden.

I hope you find this helpful!

If you enjoyed this article, you may also like ~

How to Plant a Big Garden in a Small Space - Plot Planting

How to Thin Tomato Seedlings (Without Stressing Them Out)

The Humble Beginnings of a Year's Worth of Food

Inexpensive (or Free) Mulch For Your Garden

How to Preserve Green Beans Without Canning

Plot Planted Garden Update - May

Plot Planted Garden Update - June

Do-It-Your Self Topsy Turvy Tomato Planter

This article was first published in January 2012

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1 comment:

  1. That a lot of plants! I think my biggest enjoyment with the front yard garden was with the onions. Seeing those I grew from seeds growing just as well as sets.

    Going out to the yard with a shovel, scissors, and a bowl to make a veggie version of borscht was divine!


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