Garden Guide: How Much to Plant, and When

It's already the second week of March! That means all you gardeners are getting geared up to start some of your plants indoors, get your peas going outside, turn your compost, and plot out your grow beds. But where to begin?

We're here to help you with your timing, seed selection, compost, and everything else involved in growing your own food.

Your spring-planting calendar will vary according to your planting zone. At the Farmer's Almanac website you can plug in your zip code to see exactly when you should be planting what in accordance with your plant-hardiness zone. Click here to give it a try. Knowing when to start your seeds is a major game-changer for home gardeners. Gardening smarter, not necessarily harder, will save you a bunch of time in the long run and increase your success rate exponentially.

For loads of information for you to access year-round, click on the "gardening" tab on the right of this page. If you'd like a more personalized approach, get in touch with us about a private garden consultation. We will come to you and go over garden mapping, seed selection, landscape design, compost, and answer all your specific questions.

But how much should you plant? Well, it depends. How much food do you want to produce? Enough to garnish your dishes? Enough to feed your whole family? And for how long? Here's a basic guide to figuring out how much you should grow to feed yourself for a year, gleaned from the classic homesteading book, Reader’s Digest: Back to Basics:
Asparagus: about 10-15 plants per person
Beans (Bush): about 15 plants per person
Beans (Pole): 2-4 poles of beans per person (each pole with the four strongest seedlings growing)
Beets: about 36 plants per person.
Broccoli: 3-5 plants per person
Cabbage: 2-3 plants per person
Cantaloupe: figure on about 4 fruits per plant (estimate how much your family would eat)
Carrots: about 100 seeds per person (1/4 oz would be plenty for a family of six)
Cauliflower: 2-3 plants per person
Collards: about 5 plants per person
Corn: start out with 1/2 lb. seeds for the family and adjust as needed
Cucumbers: 3-6 plants per family
Eggplant: 3-6 plants per family
Lettuce: 4-5 plants per person
Okra: 3-4 plants per person
Onions: 12-15 plants per person
Parsnips: 12-15 plants per person
Peas: about 120 plants per person
Peppers: 3-5 plants per person
Spinach: about 15 plants per person
Squash (including Zucchini): about 10 per family
Sweet Potatoes: about 75 plants per family
Tomatoes: about 20 plants per family
Turnips: about 1/4 lb seeds per family
Watermelon: about 1/2 oz. seeds per family
For more help planning your garden, contact us—or check out this great resource at Farmer's Almanac.

Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.