One of the most common questions I have been asked by clients lately is “How much do I need to grow to feed my family over a year?”
And to be perfectly honest, the only answer I can give is “it depends”. There are so many variables that should be considered as every family, every person is different. We need to consider how much space you have available and how much time you have to spend growing your food. Not just more food but the variety of food can make a difference also as each particular vegetable and fruit has its own set of requirements, needs and wants.
When I first started growing our food, I was keen and eager and planted everything. I worked out we were growing almost 80 different types of fruit and vegetables. The amount of time it took me to tend the garden was huge, and that is not including the water cost either. But over time and observation, taking notes and asking my children to go pick what they wanted in their meals, meant that I was able to refine that extensive list to what it is today. And knowing it is something they will eat as they chose the varieties through the harvesting observations.
While every person is different, there are, however, some averages we can work from. They can be adjusted over time as you get to learn what you and your family prefer to eat.
While the below is just a small sample of what you may need or want, knowing the numbers means you can then start to break down the planting and seeding to seasons and even months (which is what I do).
For example, feeding the 6 people in this house means that we need to plant 24 tomato plants to get the yield to see to our needs. But planting them all at once would create a glut, and then famine in our harvesting schedule. Knowing that we can plant tomatoes over 8 months of the year mean that I only need to seed up 3 tomatoes a month to meet that need.
The same can be done for something like spinach. Again, looking at 6 people that is 486 plants. A huge endeavour. But breaking it down to a monthly planting means that over 9 months I am only seeding 54 plants. Using the square foot gardening method means that it will only take up approx. 1m square (and spinach taking 5 to 11 weeks to mature)
The numbers below are just averages and only a sample of the fruit and vegetables available. And for each person it is different. You may eat more vegetables, then you need to adjust the quantities accordingly, but this will give you something to start on to help bring about a level of food sovereignty, resilience and self reliance.
Plants per person for a whole year
Tomatoes - 4 plants, Onions - 30 plants
Leaf Lettuce - 600 plants, Capsicum - 5 plants
Carrots - 192 plants, Cucumbers - 3/5 plants
Corn - 50 plants, Broccoli - 10 plants
Celery - 7 plants, Zucchini - 2 plants
Butternut pumpkin - 3 plants , Pumpkin (Qld blue) - 1 plant
Garlic - 12 plants, Spinach - 81 plants
Asparagus - 6 plants, Eggplant - 2 plants
Radish - 96 plants, Beetroot - 72 plants
Kale - 4 plants, Beans - 15 plants
Eggplant - 2 plants
Square Foot Gardening Method Example