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July 20, 2011

Vegetable yields per plant

My cool new little toy, mechanical kitchen scale. Green, baby!

Would not it be nice if we could plant a garden and always have plenty of vegetables and desired variety. Actually, yield planning is the hardest part because of so many variables that are out of our control, e.g. pests and weather. I read somewhere that an old farmer said "plant one plant for the weather, one for the pests and one for yourself". We probably should not take advice literally because it's quite an overkill, but it would be prudent to plant maybe 10 to 20 percent more than you need to account for the losses.

Many county extension offices post vegetable yields files on their websites. I also included that very common information here for the convenience of my readers.

How do you use this information? Look at your grocery store receipt. For example, if you are buying a pound of carrots per week, then you need 10 feet of row of carrots every seven weeks because 10 feet row yields 7-10 pounds of carrots. We can see that spacing for carrots is 2 inches, therefore you need to plant 60 carrot seeds (10 feet = 120 inches. 120/2" = 60). Multiply that by 120% (for the losses) and you get 72 seeds. Easy.

A one foot row of carrots spaced 2 inches:

I have to mention that I don't plant in rows, I plant in blocks of square feet. A 10 feet row can be broken down in 10 smaller rows of 1 foot each and 6 of these smaller rows could be planted in one square foot of a garden because the 2 inch distance now becomes the distance all the way around.

If you are planting square foot method, I would recommend increasing the suggested distance. The plants need room to breathe; they get that room if planted in rows, but will be crowded if planted the same distance in a square foot garden. How much to increase? I would double it to be safe. Even with the increased spacing you will still need less land to plant the same amount of vegetables compared to rows because the space between the rows becomes planting space.

Here's the updated schematic with increased spacing:

Now, a square feet will produce 9 carrots, but you only need eight of these squares to produce the desired 7 pounds of carrots, which is not a lot of land.



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