Monday, April 12, 2010

How much to plant and how to increase your yield to feed your family

Planning Your Vegetable Garden

How much to plant and how to increase your yield to feed your family

Every vegetable gardener I know is always looking for ways to get more food from their gardens. I certainly am and so are many of the people I work with on putting in a new garden. There are several theories and practices being used across the country today to get more yield from home gardens. They are all sound and very similar and have several common themes running through them.

Since I garden using permaculture practices I have summarized the practices that support creating a more self sustaining garden that will produce higher yields and need less work and outside resources like fertilizers, water and ME!

It is important to review some of the basics in setting up your garden before going into the specifics of how to actually garden. Garden placement is just as important as what plants or seeds you put into the garden. Making sure your garden gets the proper amount of sun or shade (as in the case of very sunny places like AZ, NV, CA and TX) as well as its proximity to the home and a water source.

Six to eight hours of sun are necessary for healthy, strong plants. However, if you live in a particularly hot sunny location like me, in Phoenix, AZ, you will want those sun hours to be in the morning and early afternoon. Creating a garden where you see it on a daily basis will help you keep an eye on what is happening in your garden so you can react quickly to water needs and attacks by pests. Whether or not you choose to have an automated watering system is up to you, but have the water nearby so you are not dragging hoses all over the garden/landscape and risk damaging plants.

The size of the garden bed will have an impact on how much food is produced since plants need a certain amount of room to grow to a healthy, mature size. A well-amended soil will nourish plants and provide the nutrients, beneficial bacteria, nematodes and other micro-organisms necessary for growth.

Determining What to Plant

This will sound very basic but what do you eat? List your favorite vegetables, ask the kids what they like to eat and plant those plants. If you are just starting out in gardening keep it to those foods that you can easily find in the grocery store. These are the plants that will be easiest to grow. The more exotic the food, the more challenging to grow!

How much do you eat? Does everyone in the family enjoy it and how often? Do you want to can or freeze some food and how much? First, consider how you measure-in pints or cups. Usually a pint will feed two people. Then multiply that by how often you actually eat that particular food. That will give you an idea of how many pints or pounds you need. Repeat this calculation for all the food your family eats.

Factor in a little additional food for the uncontrollable variables that will impact the health of the plant. Pests, disease and adverse weather will impact the amount of produce on the plants. I like to error on planting a little more than I think I need as I can always share the excess with friends and neighbors if I truly have too much! Also, in order to eat that food throughout a full year, you will need to preserve some.

I will be teaching this and MORE this Wednesday, Apreil 14th in Tempe, AZ.  Find out more here
I hope to see you in a class or in your garden soon!
Happy Digging,
The Garden Goddess


Anonymous said...

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