Sunday, February 23, 2014

How Many Should I Plant? a basic guide for vegetable planting

I had way too many tomatoes last summer.  Too many to eat fresh.  Too many to can.  Too many to give away.  I love tomatoes, but I just planted way too many!  But, green beans... I could have used double the harvest.  Part of that was due to a nearly complete crop failure in one of my garden boxes.

If you ever wondered, "How many should I plant?" I put together this list of common home garden vegetables that I like to help both of us!  Remember, if you love, love, love a variety, plant more of it!  These figures are based on the gardener wanting a harvest a few times per week for fresh eating, not canning. 

Beans (green) - 8 plants per person.  I grew mostly pole beans last year, but am planting only bush beans this year.  I find they are more reliable in my yard. They can also be tucked into most any empty space in the garden. I like to grow them in the holes in my cinder block beds!  Just make sure to water them more frequently than if they were in a bed. I will be devoting an entire 4x8 raised bed to bush beans, for eating, and freezing. 

Jade bush bean growing in cinder block hole -  July 2013
Carrots - 30 plants per person.  Sounds like a lot, but plant them in succession, every 3 weeks is good, so you don't have 90 carrots ready to harvest all at once for a family of three!  Remember you can eat the small carrots you pull when you thin them.  I found a terrific new recipe the other day for teeny carrots, which includes the tops!
Celery - 5 plants per person.  Harvest an average of 6 stalks per plant.  I have never tried growing celery, but plan to give it a go in a container.
Chard -5 plants should be sufficient for a family of 4.  Harvest the outer leaves and let the others keep growing, you'll have chard all season.
Corn - 15-20 plants per person.  You can replant every 10 days for a continuous harvest.  I love corn! But, corn is not cost affective for me to grow.  When I can buy it 10/$1.00 at the peak of the season, why bother to grow my own?  Did you know that you only get 1 ear per corn plant?  ONE!  Not worth my time or garden space, but suit yourself!
Cucumbers - 4-6 plants per person.  I grow lemon cucumbers on a trellis.  I plant 6 for the two family members who like them, and always have plenty.

lemon cucumbers - -August -2013
Eggplant - 1-2 plants per person.  Unless you plan on cooking many eggplant dishes over the summer, you won't need a lot of plants.  My one plant would ripen 3 fruits at a time, with 4 harvests over the summer.

Dusky eggplant - July 2013
Lettuce - This is a hard one!  Do you like a lot of salads, or just want a leaf or two for sandwiches?  I suggest you plant 4 plants per person, and plant 4 more in succession every 2 weeks. I love the mixed lettuces, and pull up the baby plants to make a colorful salad.

mixed lettuce - April 2013
Melons - 1 or 2 plants per person. Most melons produce 2 or 3 fruits per plant.  I won't be growing melons this year. 
Peas - The more the merrier in my family!  Plant lots, 30 per person isn't excessive.  I plant only Cascadia snap peas.  We eat the small pods, as well as letting some mature for shell peas.  I will be planting my peas later today, in a 4x4 raised bed. 

Cascadia pea - May 2013
Peppers - 2 plants per person.  I like California Wonder.  I don't use a lot of peppers, so I will be planting 2 for my family. 
Pumpkins -  1 or 2 plants per person should be fine.  Ask yourself what you will be using the pumpkins for when you choose a variety.  Cinderella is wonderful for eating/freezing, but not so suitable for carving into Jack-o-lanterns.  Cinderella seeds cost more, but the walls are thick so there is more food value to them.

Cinderella pumpkins - September 2012 (grown in manure bags)
Spinach - 10 plants per person, plant every week for a continuous harvest. I do not have success with spinach! 
Squash (summer or winter) -  1 -2 plants per person.  Plant more winter squash if you plan to store it for winter use.  My family does not like summer squash, so I do not grow it. I grow winter squash only to use in pumpkin recipes.  Last year my squash were all volunteers in the compost heap!  I have high hopes for the same this year. 

acorn squash - August 2013
Tomatoes - for fresh, slicing use plant 1 plant per person.  Of course, if you can plant many more of a suitable canning variety.  I will be planting a Sungold cherry, an Ace, and a Yellow Brandywine (keeping my fingers crossed I can find one).  Those three are the ones I have found to be the most productive, and most importantly, the most flavorful. 

Sungold cherry tomato - July 2013
Planting the right number of plants is rather like The Three Bears.  "Too much!"  "Too little!"  Hopefully this year I have figured out just how many plants will be "Just right!" 





Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Signs of Spring

Yes, there are signs of Spring!

blueberry

boysenberry

daffodils



 raspberry

flowering quince
forsythia