How Much Do I Need to Plant to Feed My Family?
I was at a class at my Local Cooperative Extension Agency (if you don’t utilize your local cooperative extension agency you are missing out) and the agent started talking about estimated yields for vegetable plantings. My ears perked up because I always grapple with this every season… How much do I need to plant to feed my family? How many seeds/plants do I need to plant if I want to feed my family fresh produce during the growing season AND preserve enough to last the rest of the year.
The chart below gives you a good idea of how much of each plant/seed you will need per person. This chart is based on amount suggested per person based on fresh use. If you plan on canning, freezing or preserving you will need to plant more! I usually multiply the suggested amount by 5. For example the chart below suggests that you plant 3-5 tomato plants per person for fresh use. We have 4 people in our family. That would be a total of 20 plants per person for fresh use.
Because we LOVE having canned tomatoes all year long – I plant 100 plants. Because we can the tomatoes – we plant a determinate variety of tomato also known as bush tomatoes. A determinate variety of tomato is going to be ready to harvest all at one time. This makes sense if you want to can/preserve large amounts of tomatoes. If you want to have tomatoes available all season long you would plant an indeterminate variety. An indeterminate variety also known as vining tomatoes will produce fruit until it is killed by the frost. Vining types of tomatoes are perfect if you want to be sure to have fresh tomatoes all season long. Or you could be like us and plant both varieties!
Seeds or plant per 100-ft. row is the recommended amount or number to use for proper spacing and growth.
Estimated yield per 100-ft. row is based on optimum growth.
Some of the things you must do to ensure good yields:
- Maintain fertility
- Provide adequate moisture
- Use mulches
- Control pests (weeds, insects, and diseases)
- Use recommended varieties for your region (another good reason to visit your local extension office, they will know what are the best varieties to plant).