Sunday, February 22, 2015

How much to plant?

Sunday, February 22, 2015

If you are thinking of starting your first garden and are wondering “How many plants of what do I need?”, there are a couple of ways to go about it.  You can do it the more scientific way and track what you eat to scale up for the year.  Or you can just plant a basic garden that you can expand upon next year after learning the basics.

For the more scientific approach, track what you buy for a couple of weeks.  This will give you a good idea of what you like to eat and how much of it your family is eating.  You can then plan your garden around your favorite eats.  

This table gives you the number of plants or seeds you need per pounds of produce you want to get from your garden:  

If you want a rule of thumb based on your family size and don’t want to track exactly what you have purchased, just use the table for how much to grow per person in your household as a rule of thumb.  You can adjust after the gardening season is over.

There are also many programs and app’s out there today that can help you know what to grow, when to plant, and will give you growing tips on each fruit or vegetable.  I like Mother Earth News app because it shows when to plant seeds, transplant plants and harvest time for each type of veggie.  when to plant app

The biggest watch out for starting a new garden is starting too big.  Start small with what you use the most in the kitchen.  Herbs, lettuce, carrots, radishes, peppers, or tomatoes are great ones to start with.

Here is the basic garden I grow every year:
Herbs (1 each)-chives, thyme, rosemary, sage, oregano, and flat leaf parsley
3 basil plants (for pesto and seasoning)
3 tomato plants-1 cherry tomato type and 2 slicer types
3 pepper plants-2 sweet peppers and 1 spicy pepper
1 bush zucchini
1 bush or vine cucumber
1 eggplant
1 Egyptian walking onion (a perennial)
8 garlic plants (you can buy cloves for planting at any big box store)

Arugula, spinach and lettuce scatter sown in self watering pots and between garden plants.

If you eat a lot of salads, greens with complimentary veggies and herbs would be a great first garden.  To keep yourself in lettuce, sow seed about every 3-4 weeks.  In early spring, any type of lettuce and spinach is good.  Once you head into May, use varieties that withstand the hot temps of summer like:
Leaf lettuce-”New Red Fire”, “Simpson Elite”
Butterhead-”Optima”, “Winter Density:
Romaine-”Jericho”, ”Green Towers”
Batavian-”Magenta”, “Nevada”

Starting with a basic garden to learn from is a smart approach.  If you don’t think you have much time to devote to a first garden, do herbs which are completely carefree and maybe a couple of America’s favorite tomato plants.  This summer, you can go to farmers markets and try out what looks interesting to trial run them for next season.  Don’t forget to save the seeds from your purchases to use in your own garden!

WWII victory garden poster

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