How Big To Make Your Vegetable Garden

garden Image by Carmen Edenhofer
Image by Carmen Edenhofer

There is nothing like cooking and eating a meal that you grew yourself. Even if it is just pulling a carrot for an afternoon snack, you can easily grow your own food and become more self-sufficient. But how much space do you need to grow vegetables?

You can grow lots of vegetables in whatever space you have. You can grow a surprising amount of food in a few pots or on a balcony. A small yard can produce more than enough food for one person, and to be really self-sufficient, a family of four would require about 6 sq meters to grow all the vegetables they need for a year.

By growing your own lettuce for a single meal means you are making yourself more self-sufficient. The more space you can set aside for your garden, the more self-sufficient you can be. We will look at how much you can grow with what you have, and a few tips to make the most of your garden.


How Much Space Do You Need To Grow Vegetables?

In truth, your garden can be any size you want. If you have bare soil, you can grow vegetables. Even if you don’t have access to land, you can still grow a variety of food indoors. Don’t let your lack of space limit your garden.

On the flip side, there is the danger of making your garden larger than you can handle. When I first opened up land on our farm for our garden I was filled with illusions of grandeur. I tilled up far more than I could handle, and I spent a lot of unnecessary time weeding spaces that I didn’t even need.

There are two factors that determine how much space your garden needs to be: how many people you are growing for, and how much space you have available. Let’s take a look at answering these questions to determine how big your garden needs to be and what you can grow with the space you have.

  1. Growing enough for one person
  2. How to feed your family
  3. Container gardening
  4. The balcony garden

1. Growing Enough For One Person

How much garden space do you need to feed one person? You can grow all the vegetables you need for an entire year in 3 sq meters (33 sq ft). In a space this size, you can grow vegetables for fresh eating in the summer and have more than enough to preserve enough to last until the following spring.

2. How To Feed Your Family

A 6 sq meter (66 sq ft) garden will provide enough vegetables for a small family for an entire year. This will give you enough produce to eat like kings all summer long, and let you store enough so you can sit back and enjoy your preserves over winter.

Growing all the vegetables that your family needs for an entire year is the ultimate goal of self-sufficient gardening. There is no doubt about it, this will take a lot of hard work and a large investment of time. But I can tell you it is well worth the effort.

This doesn’t mean you will be slaving away in the garden in every spare moment. the first few years will be the hardest, as you open up a new garden and meticulously remove every grass root and other weeds that hide in the soil. Once you have your plot established and the weeds under control, spending a few hours a day, or one day on the weekend will yield tremendous results. Like anything, however, the more you put in the more you get back, and self-sufficient living requires dedication.

Furthermore, your garden can be an enjoyable place to be. A self-sufficient garden doesn’t have to be a small, bare field designed purely for production. In fact, this is exactly what a self-sufficient garden shouldn’t be. I used to think that a productive garden was synonymous with long straight rows in a dirt field. But gardening like this is contrary to nature, and our garden will flourish when we work with nature with all its diversity. Perennials, trees, ornamental pathways, places to sit, and flowers should all be part of your garden.

Sunflowers Image by Carmen Edenhofer
Image by Carmen Edenhofer

To give you an idea of how much space you need to feed your family, check out our other articles about growing enough potatoes, carrots, or parsnips for an entire year.

3. Container Gardening

But what about if you don’t have a garden? Pots can produce a surprising amount of vegetables. You can grow a few vegetables indoors for edible house plants, or you can line your driveway with pots to make the most of your concrete garden. Leafy greens, such as spinach, do very well in pots, and you can also maximize your container garden by growing vertically.

Don’t let your lack of land deter you from gardening. No matter the scale, it is always worth growing your own food.

4. The Balcony Garden

Balconies can become a veritable jungle of edible plants. If all the yard you have is a balcony, you can grow a lot of food in this very small space. There is a lot of information available online to encourage you in your balcony garden.


How To Make The Most Of Your Garden Space

In agricultural terms, this would be called “maximizing yield per acre.” This mentality, however, can be a very dangerous way to think about your garden. When you set out to maximize the production of your garden, it often leads to sacrificing the quality for quantity. In gardening, however, the more effort we put into the quality of the land, the more plants it will produce and the healthier the food will be.

Here are a few ways your can produce the most food from your land without sacrificing quality.

Choose The Right Plants

To make the most of your garden space, grow plants that don’t hog space. Corn, for example, takes up a lot of space in a small garden. While fresh corn is delicious, it might take away from other plants that would be more beneficial to your self-sufficient goals.

Peas are a good vegetable to maximize space in the garden, as one plant will continue to produce for the entire growing season. Other plants, like carrots or lettuce, can be grown in fairly dense plantings making the most of a small area. Tomatoes also produce a large quantity of food in a compact area.

Tomatoes Image by Carmen Edenhofer
Image by Carmen Edenhofer

Succession Planting

Succession planting is when you harvest one crop, and then grow another in the same space. This lets you get two harvests from one area. For example, you can plant a row of fast growing radishes in the early spring. Once you have harvested them, you can plant another vegetable, such as lettuce, in the same spot.

Because your garden will be producing two crops (or more) a year, your soil will require extra care so it doesn’t become overused and depleted of nutrients. Add plenty of compost or organic matter to keep your soil healthy.

When choosing which plants to sow for succession planting, remember to choose plants from different families to stave off diseases and pests.

Undersowing

A similar practice to succession planting is undersowing. This is where you plant one crop underneath another crop that has already established itself. This is a great way to maximize a small space.

Choose A Planting Style That Works For You

Some gardeners like planting in rows, while others prefer square foot gardening. Both can be very productive, and which style you choose comes down to personal preference. In our own garden, we space rows about 50cm to 60cm (20-24inches) apart where we need to walk between the rows, and about 30cm (12inches) apart where we don’t have to walk.

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About the Author Harry Thompson

Involved in home renovations throughout his life, Harry is an expert in everything to do with home and garden DIY. In his spare time, he enjoys cooking and tending to his garden.