What is the optimum size for a family vegetable garden?
It is difficult to get a view of the layout of a garden from photographs when garden areas are spread out as ours is. Over the past four years our vegetable gardening area has increased as I add in more and more planting areas. I had this graphical representation created so that you can get a clearer idea of our vegetable gardening space. Overall our growing space is approximately 40 sq/m. The first single raised garden bed we planted was 3 sq/m. If you are anything like me and fuzzy when trying to determine a concept based on space or a number – our vegetable garden is now equal in size to a large double garage (I am told). Our house is set on an old quarter acre block.
The planting layout in the image shows what I intend to plant this Summer. When I drafted the information for this image it served a dual purpose of acting as my Spring/Summer garden layout plan as well as providing an image of our family vegetable garden that I hope people can relate to. Note: The image is slightly (alot) neater in appearance than my actual garden!
Our current vegetable garden is THE best size for our family, our lifestyle and for our needs. It has taken me four years to achieve the perfect size. Your lifestyle and requirements are sure to be different to ours so don’t feel like this is an ideal size for everyone. It works for us. Our vegetable garden allows me to collect almost all of our vegetables across the Summer and partially through Autumn. We purchase just a few items that we do not grow plus all of our fruit. Our fruit trees are immature and are not currently producing enough to contribute much to the family meal table, or the kids lunch boxes.
During the Summer and Autumn months the raised garden beds become jungle-like. They overflow out of the beds. The pumpkins begin to wander from the garden beds across the lawn (as shown below). I have previously written a post that outlines most of the vegetables that we plant across the year by volume. You can find out how much to plant for a family here if you are interested in numbers of plants.
I don’t enjoy the cold of Winter. I am happy to stay indoors more then I do the rest of the year. The vegetable garden reflects this by reducing in size. I keep the essentials such as lettuce, spinach, garlic and a few Winter vegetables growing over this period. Late Autumn to Winter some of the areas of the vegetable garden are rested, or planted with green manure. There are items to harvest and add to family meals many times a week, however I need to purchase vegetables regularly during this period. This is evident by the image taken of this area of the garden recently in the gloom of Winter, there is not alot going on.
How much time does it take to maintain?
A garden of this size does not take a lot of time to maintain if you average it out across the year.
As mentioned above, I spend more time outside in the garden across the period of late Spring – early Autumn and very little time in Winter. From mid Spring through Summer I am in the garden for a short period of time almost every day – either planting more seeds or seedlings or to harvest produce that is ready. If this is not been possible during the week I generally spend a few hours across the weekend catching up. Remember that the reward for the time I spend is the ability to harvest the majority of our vegetables for our family meals over the Summer period = big reduction in trips to the shops across the week for 15 minutes a day or less. A pretty good return for a ready supply of organic vegetables I would say!
Growing fresh food cannot be done with no effort. What you put into the activity is what you will reap, or harvest. The more effort and time you put in the more your efforts will be rewarded. In Winter I venture out daily to do a quick bug check on the broccoli and kale and to collect ingredients for dinner and that is about it. Generally speaking the rain takes care of the watering so that is not required.
Don’t be put off by time. The more you tend to your garden, the more you will learn. You will recognise when things need to be watered, fertilised and removed from the garden. It becomes a cycle and routine that is easy to accommodate.
Revised Garden Share Collective Format:
This post is the first of a new series of the re-vamped Garden Share Collective. An online group of gardeners hosted founded by Lizzie from Strayed from the Table and now jointly hosted by Lizzie, myself and Kate from Rosehips and Rhubarb.
This post is themed around the word Size. I am excited about reading the variety of posts that evolve from this topic. Along with a monthly post on the first Monday of each month the theme is ope to use on Instagram across the entire month. Be sure to #gardensharecollective so that we can all see your posts. You don’t have to have a blog to join in, we would love to gardeners everywhere to join in and share their posts across the month. The themes for the next few months can be found below.
For those of you who are wondering what is going into and out of my garden this month in the way of planting and harvests at the end of Winter it is:
- Cucumber – just a couple of seeds to see if they come up yet
- Tomatoes – just a few seeds to see if they come up yet
- Kale – a little bit
- Lemons – lots
- Spinach – a little
I’d love to hear about the size of your vegetable garden. Do you feel like it is the right size for your family? Please tell me in the comments below.
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