Every year, gardeners are faced with one of two situations. One is seen every year when zucchinis are planted and if you are a parent you have heard too often this statement from your children. "Zucchini again?" The other situation is when the garden does not produce enough produce to get one through the season. In the past, knowing how much to plant was simply a guess but today we have tools that can guide us to a more appropriate educated deduction.
To utilize this garden tool to its fullest, one must first understand human nature. First, adults tend to enjoy vegetables more than kids. While there are exceptions to this rule, it is a general premise of this tool and contrary to what kids may say French fries are not a healthy alternative to fresh vegetables.
The second premise that this tool uses is the amount of space that is need for an adult compared to a child. Adults need 4 square feet of garden space per meal being served per day. Children, on average, need only 4 square feet per meal per day. What this means is that if you are only going to harvest for a dinner salad, then you only need one 4 square foot garden.
To aid in this understanding lets create a chart. The far left column will be the names of the people you plan to serve. In my example, I am going to use a family of three. The next columns represent individual 4 by 4-garden spaces or 3 by 3-garden spaces for the child.
In this example, mom is going to eat a salad for lunch and dinner. This means that she will have two columns that are checked. The father is only going to eat a salad at dinner so he only needs one column checked. The child is only 5 years old and in doing so only needs one 3 square foot garden space checked.
This family has also decided to try urban homesteading and in doing so needs vegetables to preserve for the upcoming year. Since each family will benefit from these vegetables, an additional column needs to be checked.
This family wants to donate some fresh produce to a local food bank. In doing so, they decide to grow an additional 4 by 4 garden space for their food donation.
Once the family's needs have been checked on the chart, it is a simple process by which the checks are added. The number of checks is then taken times the size of the garden space. This number is the number of square feet you will need to meet this family's needs
If you are using the square foot garden method, simply take the number that you came up with and times itself. This will give you the total number of plants one needs for the season, which includes cool or cole crops and warm season.
Having an idea of how much you need for a season will save on the budget, reduce waste, and will allow you to plan for the whole season. Once you have this information, you are prepared for the sea of seed catalogs that will fill your mailbox.