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“How much food should I plant in my organic garden?” | Organic Gardening 365
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“How much food should I plant in my organic garden?”

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Have you ever been to a church potluck supper or a Thanksgiving Day buffet dinner and been overwhelmed by all the delicious food you can put on your plate?

You want to try a little of everything and by the time you reach the end of the line, your plate is piled so high it looks like one of the foothills of the Rockies.

And then you repeat the whole process when the desserts are set out. Naturally, you feel morally obligated to try each of the 7 different types of chocolate brownies, not to mention all the other goodies. Oh yes! I have been there and done that too many times.

And what usually happens is that we can’t eat all the food on our plate and a lot gets wasted.

(And then of course, there’s Aunt Sally who goes through the line and barely takes enough food to keep a newborn kitten alive. And she only eats half a cookie for dessert. The nerve.)

It’s about making choices

While you may get away with the little-bit-of-everything approach to choosing what to eat on special occasions, it is not so great for when you choose what to grow in your garden.

If you plant too much, it can cause a major problem. Either you don’t have the time to take care of a larger garden (we’re talking the weeds from outer space invasion), or you can’t eat everything you grow and good food goes to waste.

Or if you follow Aunt Sally’s example at the buffet and don’t plant enough in your garden, you’ll have to spend extra money at the store or farmers’ market, which kinda, sorta defeats the purpose of having your own garden.

Are you new to gardening,?

Then you probably don’t need three varieties of zucchini and 36 tomato plants like I did my first year gardening–after several years without a garden. I went hog wild and along with all the other stuff I planted, I just couldn’t keep up with it all. It was VERY frustrating.

So here’s my no non-sense OG 365 Timeless Gardening Tip #4: Don’t bite off more than you can chew.

I mean this literally and figuratively.

Don’t grow more than you (and others) can eat. One way to deal with excess produce from your garden is preserving it to enjoy during winter months. Or you can share it with others. It is a terrible waste when you have more food than you can eat, preserve or give away.

Please make good choices.

Don’t plant a bigger garden than you can take care of.

You don’t want to wear yourself out. Gardening can be hard work but it should also be fun. If things get overwhelming, it is too tempting to throw in the trowel and quit. Please don’t do that.

  • If you’re a new gardener, start small. Get your feet wet—or dirty, I should say—the first year or two and then expand the size of your garden and the amount you grow. Even 100 square feet of garden space, if planted properly, can produce a lot of delicious food.
  • Keep it simple. Don’t get too exotic right away. Learn the basics, then expand.
  • If you’ve been gardening for a while and are thinking about expanding your garden, don’t go over board. Make sure you have the time and or the help to do the job right.
  • Get some help if you need it. If you did go overboard and find yourself overwhelmed, ask friends and family members to pitch in. Or if you can, hire a local high school student who’s interested in gardening. Maybe you could “pay” them with some of the extra produce if you’re short on cash.
  • Don’t automatically plant the same amount every year. Re-examine your needs every year. If your kids are grown and you don’t need to grow as much, make adjustments.
  • Decide how much to grow.  Don’t just guess. Assuming you will also preserve much of what you grow, here is an article from ExperimentalHomesteader.com that gives a rough idea of how much to plant for a family of four. The article assumes your kids are not picky eaters. And will actually eat broccoli, etc.:  How much to plant

I’d love to hear of your experiences in deciding how much to grow in your garden. Do you have a formula or a chart? Please share your ideas in the comments below.

To your garden’s delight,

James Early
Organic Gardening 365
Dedicated to helping you get the most out of your organic garden all year long

For the complete series of OG 365 Timeless Gardening Tips, click here.

P.S. The next tip in this blog series will talk about what you should never do when you order from a catalog. You can read it hereFor the complete series of OG 365 Timeless Gardening Tips, click here.

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