Avoid an insignificant crop, or a glut
A common backyard gardening dilemma – how much should you plant of each vegetable? Garden space, if you have it, is precious. Space allocated to a plant that does not produce an adequate amount to add to meals on a regular basis is a waste. Similarly, ending up with a large glut of one item can be a problem also.
Have you had high hopes for an abundant crop of a new item that you have planted in your vegetable garden and been disappointed?
I have! Many times… It is important to have an understanding of whether your garden space will produce a tiny handful of an item or a large crop that you can use many times a week for months.
As an example: I recently planted cannelloni beans for the first time. They grew beautifully and I harvested stunning looking beans, all according to plan- except the quantity, I needed about ten times the amount I harvested for the planting to be worthwhile. There was little I could do with this little handful of beans that took up space in my garden that could have been allocated to something else.
I recommend that you keep records of what and how much you plant in your vegetable garden, at least for one year. This will assist you to determine what works and what does not in your environment. It allows you to record if you have a surplus of something, or not enough or what you expected of something else.
Over the past few years I have been getting used to my garden space. Weather conditions and attention to ongoing maintenance such as fertilising, mulching and rotation of crops plays an important part, however, my guide below provides a starting point. It will assist you to select a usable quantity of produce for your family dinner table.
Please note: You may not have room for all of the listed items. You may have some favorites that you wish to bump up the number of – for example, I have 33 tomato plants in the ground this year. I aim to eat lots of them fresh, have some to dry, and also make chutney and sauce. Thirty three tomato plants is the greatest number of tomato plants I have ever planted and by a cruel twist of weather craziness they will not reach their full potential this year so such an excess is a dream, even with this many plants. This illustrates that the table below is a guide, it is not a guarantee. Plant in the correct season. There is a mixture of cool and warm season crops listed below.
This is my guide to how much of each vegetable I plant.
|Plant Name||Qty to Plant||Notes|
|Artichoke||2||Large plant that multiples over time|
|Berries||6+||Most berry canes will multiply over time|
|Beetroot||8-12||Plant every 8 weeks|
|Carrot||8-12||Plant every 8 weeks|
|Coriander||2||Avoid planting in very hot Summer months|
|Corn||12-16||Requires heavy water.Plant in a block, not a row|
|Garlic||24+||Long growing period required|
|Lettuce||4-6||Plant every 8 weeks|
|Mint||1||Plant in a pot. Aggressive spreading plant|
|Onions||36+||Long growing period required|
|Pumpkin||3+||Running plant that requires space to creep or climb|
|Zucchini||1-2||Space to spread is required|
If you have a limited area for a vegetable patch, but would like to plant more, try the following:
- Plant in your regular garden beds as shown in this garden I visited recently.
- Plant as much as you can in pots
- Find out if there are any community gardens that you can join in your area
- Choose small, non spreading plants – eg: avoid pumpkins, melons and artichokes
- Under plant – plant herbs and small plants under and around the base of larger plants such as corn
- Plant herbs and lettuce in pots on your window inside
Many small plants from the nursery contain many more plants in the punnet than I recommend above, similarly if you plant seeds you may have many more germinate than you bargained for. Some of the ways that you can share the seedlings around may include:
- Partner with neighbors or friends and make a list of the vegetables you wish to plant. Divide up the list and buy a few plants each, sharing them among the group.
- If you have the space to plant the extra do so and join a Food Swap to swap the excess for produce that you need
- Offer your excess produce to a local farm gate to sell on your behalf
- Dry or preserve your excess for use over the remainder of the year
For further assistance in the areas of how, and what to plant when you may like to explore the links below:
- I have written numerous posts on how to plant, grow and harvest numerous fresh produce items such as tomatoes.
- I have previously created a Seasonal Planting Guide to assist you know what to plant each season.
- I made this little video to inspire people to grow their own vegetables, indicating why I do.
What has been your most disappointing crop? What has been the vegetable that resulted in a glut that you could not use?
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