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How big is your vegetable garden?

Posted Apr 13 2009 11:00pm

Jan has been reading our post on vegetable garden design & wonders how big a vegetable garden should be!

Jan writes:

I would love to know how many folk you are able to feed from your veg beds, because 7 x 15 x 1.8 metres seems an awful lot, not to mention a lot of time and hard work. My six veg beds are each 1m wide and 13m long and hopefully will feed two adults. Although one bed has potatoes in it, we also have potatoes elsewhere as well. When I was trying to find out how large my beds needed to be, there was a lot of conflicting advice on various websites so I was none the wiser!

TopVeg repied:

Our garden feeds a family of 4 throughout the year. In July, August & September we feed an extra 4 working lads, who come to help with harvest on the farm. We do give any surplus away, and pickle a dozen jars of shallots & beetroot to give as presents. As we live & work on the farm, we have all meals at home, unlike those who commute to the town and only need to provide vegetables for an evening meal.

Today, April 13th, we are getting low on vegetables & looking forward to the variety the new cropping season will bring. Today we ate potatoes & parsnips which have been in store, leeks which are still in the ground & sprouting brocolli & brussel sprout shoots.  We should be eating cabbage now, which was planted in the autumn, but the deer ate them! 

The potatoes, which we grow in one 15 x 1.8m plot, last us for 12 months. Some of this plot has 2 crops of potatoes, as we plant more seed after the first earlies are lifted.

We have just run out of carrots, which have kept us well supplied throughout the winter.  This autumn we will plant winter-hardy carrots which will take us through this lean period.  We stll have onions, beetroot & parsnip in store.

I calculate that our plot is 2.4 times larger than yours. We do feed twice as many people as you - but you do say you grow extra potatoes elsewhere.

Also, we are not ‘tight for space’, so can afford to use the land to make life easier for ourselves. We usually have wider rows than normal so that we can weed more easily. Return on effort is important for us - as we are short of time.

Planning and crop rotation are vital.  For example, this year’s onion & leek patch will become next year’s carrot/beetroot/parsnip patch.  Therefore we can plant carrots after the onions are harvested.  We then plant a maincrop of carrots, when the autumn planted carrots have been harvested in May.  So as we harvest one row of carrots we rake it and seed another row of carrots in the same row.  The carrot varieties we grow are resistant to carrot fly - (& we may be sacrificing flavour!)

In the old days a working man needed a 20 pole (a pole is 25 sq meters) plot to grow all the fruit and vegetables needed for his family.  For more details read Vegetable Garden Size.

This illustrates that the vegetable garden should be designed to be fit for purpose, growing as much as is required, in the most efficient way to suit the gardener’s lifestyle!

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