My husband asked me a simple question today… do we really need to plant this many onions? Now, I admit that as I stood there looking at the four 50 -foot rows of onions, I cringed at the thought of the bags of onion sets still in my hand. Perhaps I did over purchase, but it seemed like so few at the time. How much should I plant in the garden to feed my family?
This got me to doing some research so I could confidently say “we plant the correct amount of whatever”. What I learned was there is no set answer. The amount you need to plant really depends on the size of your family and the number of people who are going to eat whatever it is your planting. For example, we have two healthy Rhubarb plants, which is not enough for a family of four. However, I am the only one who eats it, so maybe it is just the right amount for OUR family.
We always grow hundreds of tomato plants, well beyond the 3-5 plants that are recommended per person. However, we eat them by the tons in the summer while they are fresh and I can as many as I am able since we use a lot of tomatoes throughout the year. I would recommend that you plant as many as you can not only eat, but can/preserve/freeze/dehydrate. If you are not sure you can find a chart online in many places including many extension websites, that offers a guide to yields and amount per person to plant. (I got this one from From Scratch Magazine)
I know that if I want to sell any extra that I grow, there must be extra. So how do I adjust to have the extra I can sell? Most often it is based on what room I have left in the garden and what I think will sell. It also depends on the soil your planting in. If your soil is depleted of many nutrients or needs a pH adjustment, it might be best to either plant something that grows in poor soil or wait until next year after you have tested, adjusted, and amended your soil. No use planting if nothing will grow or the yield will be low. Sometimes, patience is the best thing to grow.