Home Improvement Expert Danny Lipford

Choosing the Right Size Vegetable Garden

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Vegetable garden laid out in traditional rows.

I’m planting my first vegetable garden this summer, and I’m wondering what size it should be?

One of the hardest decisions about vegetable gardening is deciding what size garden to plant. If it’s too small, you may be disappointed in the yield; but if it’s too big, you’ll be overwhelmed with work, and your neighbors will dread seeing you coming with more bags of squash! Here are some tips for planning the garden that’s right for you.

The Right Garden for the Right Purpose

Deciding how big a vegetable garden to plant really depends on how many people you’re feeding and whether you’re planning for summer meals or year-round food storage. Crop yields vary widely, as do opinions about how much produce is needed to feed the average family.

Here are some general vegetable garden guidelines based on a layout of traditional garden rows and following the spacing recommendations for each plant:

  • Beginners: If you’re new to vegetable gardening, a 10’ x 10’ garden (100 square feet) is a great place to start. Pick 3-5 of your favorite veggies, and buy 3-5 plants of each one. This will give you a modest harvest for summer suppers, and it’ll be easy to manage.
  • Smaller vegetable garden for beginners.

  • Intermediate: Once you’re comfortable with vegetable gardening, increase the size to 300-500 square feet. This should easily feed a family of four during the summer with a little extra left over to share. A general guideline for a summer vegetable garden is to plan on about 100 square feet per person.
  • Advanced: If you’re more ambitious and want year-round groceries, plan on about 200 square feet per person. Freeze or can at least half of the harvest for winter use. For very large gardens, check out these vegetable yield charts from Virginia Cooperative Extension and Ed Hume Seeds.
  • Small Spaces: If your space is limited, you can significantly increase your yield per square foot by using alternative layout techniques such as square foot gardening.

Julie



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