Gardening to Feed Your Family Year-Round | Best Pick Reports (2024)

Looking to save some money and start harvesting your produce right from your own backyard vegetable garden?

Making the move from recreational spring and summer gardening to growing a high percentage of your family’s fresh produce year-round requires careful planning. But the end results are well worth the time and effort.

For example, depending on the size of your family and your current vegetable garden layout, you may need to add more planting real estate to accommodate the crops you intend to grow.

In this article, we’ll cover all the basics you need to know if you’re seriously considering feeding your family year-round with veggies you’ve grown yourself. We’ll walk you through …

  • Recommended garden size
  • which crops to plant
  • how to get the most from your plot
  • How to preserve your extra harvest so nothing goes to waste

It’s time to make your green thumb a little greener.

How Big Should Your Vegetable Garden Be?

Good question. And the unsatisfying answer is … it depends.

Generally speaking,200 square feet of garden space per personwill allow for a harvest that feeds everyone year-round.

For an average family of four, plan for an 800 square-foot garden—a plot that’s 20 feet by 40 feet in size should do the trick. If your family is larger (or smaller),scale up or downas needed.

Also, keep in mind that some crops take up more space than others. If you’re planning to grow Brussels sprouts, asparagus, or large varieties of melons or squash, plan on a few extra square feet.

How Much Should You Plant?

How much to plant depends on the specific types of veggies you and your family like. A single plant can produce a lot or a little, depending on the type.

That said, here are some things to consider as you plan out your garden.

Plant More of What Your Family Likes

This first tip is a little obvious, but worth including. If you know your kids love carrots, plant plenty of them.

Focusing on the things you know your family likes makes it far less likely that you’ll end up with wasted produce.

Branch Out a Little

While you should definitely plant things you know your family already likes, don’t be afraid to branch out a little into some more exotic varieties, too.

This is sound advice, even if your household includes some picky eaters. After all, turning gardening into a family affair often convinces veggie haters to try new foods.

Consider Your Climate

If you live in a part of the country that experiences especially cold weather, you may not be able to grow anything for a decent part of the year. You’ll want to take that into account.

One way to overcome cold weather challenges is to preserve some of your summer crop. If you plan to preserve any of your harvest, you’ll want to add a few extra plants.

How Much to Plant of the Most Popular Veggies

Here’s a list of popular vegetables and an estimate of how many plants to sow for a family of four.

  • Beets – a 20- to 30-foot-long row
  • Bell peppers – 10 to 15 plants
  • Broccoli – 12 to 15 plants
  • Carrots – a 12- to 16-foot-long row
  • Corn – 40 to 50 plants
  • Cucumbers – 4 to 6 plants or 2 to 4 vines
  • Eggplant – 6 to 8 plants
  • Kale – a 15- to 20-foot-long row
  • Lettuce – a 20- to 30-foot-long row
  • Melons – 4 to 6 plants
  • Potatoes – 40 to 50 plants
  • Spinach – a 30- to 40-foot-long row
  • Squash – 4 to 6 plants
  • Tomatoes – 5 to 8 plants
  • Zucchini – 4 to 8 plants

How Do You Get the Most from Your Garden?

Seasonal yield depends on several factors, including the quality of both the seeds and the soil, proper plant spacing, adequate water and the weather.

You can’t control the weather, but there are things you can do to maximize your garden’s production throughout the year.

Plant Again and Again

As soon as one crop is harvested and is no longer producing,pull it out of the garden and plant something else in its place.

Stagger plantings by two or three weeks to extend the harvest, and plant different varieties of the same crop that mature at different times. This is known assuccession planting.

Depending on the length of your growing season, you may have to be strategic in choosing plants for a second (or even third) planting.

If your second or third planting occurs toward the end of the season, opt for cool-weather crops such as leafy greens, broccoli or root vegetables. Look for varieties that grow quickly or will overwinter and produce in the early spring (if your climate allows).

Try Intercropping

Intercropping, or planting crops of varying sizes and growth rates together, is a vegetable garden design technique often used by gardeners who are trying to maximize yield in a small space.

Give it a try in your larger garden.

While your Brussels sprout plants are maturing, for instance, make use of the ample space between them to grow a quick crop of radishes or salad greens.

Harvest Early and Consistently

Gently harvesting produce early typically results inhigher-yielding plants. Get in the habit of picking vegetables once per day or every couple of days.

Grow Vegetables Suited to Your Area

Be mindful of theUSDA Plant Hardiness Zone Mapwhen you select seeds and plants for your garden. If your climate is prone to weather extremes, some less hardy vegetables may simply not be worth the trouble.

Most large state universities have active agricultural extensions. These are a wealth of information for new and experienced gardeners. Talk to other gardeners nearby or contact your county extension for advice on tried-and-true crops for your area.

How Can I Preserve My Harvest?

If you anticipate a harsh winter, there are plenty of ways to preserve your harvest to ensure homegrown vegetables through the winter and early spring.


This is the easiest option, and it doesn’t require any special equipment.

Freeze diced vegetables and fruits in a single layer on a baking sheet. Then divide them up into individual serving sizes before transferring them to freezer bags.


A time-honoredfood preservation method, canning requires some know-how to do it safely.

Luckily, there are plenty of resources available to teach you what you need to know—you may even be able to find an in-person class near you.


Although a little less common,dryingis another simple way to preserve your harvest.

Dried foods are lightweight and don’t take up much space. Plus, you won’t have to worry about them if your power goes out for an extended period of time.

Wrapping Up

Gardening to feed your family year-round is incredibly rewarding.

The key is tostart early and have a plan in mind. If all goes well, you’ll be enjoying garden-fresh produce until it’s time to plant next spring’s seedlings.

Gardening to Feed Your Family Year-Round | Best Pick Reports (2024)


Gardening to Feed Your Family Year-Round | Best Pick Reports? ›

Subsistence agriculture occurs when farmers grow crops to meet the needs of themselves and their families on smallholdings.

What is growing enough food to feed your family called? ›

Subsistence agriculture occurs when farmers grow crops to meet the needs of themselves and their families on smallholdings.

What size garden to feed a family of 4 for a year? ›

For a non-vegetarian individual, however, we'd estimate that you need about 200 square feet of garden space to allow for a harvest that feeds everyone year-round. So, for an average family of four, plan for an 800 square-foot garden—a plot that is 20 feet by 40 feet in size.

How many plants do I need to feed my family? ›

How many vegetable to plant for a family. In general, multiply the number of plants per person by 3 or 4 for a family-sized planting. We've done the work for you in adjusting the numbers of these plants in the chart so at harvest you aren't overwhelmed with too many delicious veggies.

How do I garden for year-round food? ›

In this short video, we share six proven strategies to keep your homegrown harvests coming year-round.
  1. Extend the Growing Season. ...
  2. Keep Crops Going Over Winter. ...
  3. Avoid the 'Hungry Gap' ...
  4. Get Ahead. ...
  5. Spread Out Your Harvests. ...
  6. Succession Plant.
Feb 21, 2024

Can you grow enough food to feed a family? ›

Generally speaking, 200 square feet of garden space per person will allow for a harvest that feeds everyone year-round. For an average family of four, plan for an 800 square-foot garden—a plot that's 20 feet by 40 feet in size should do the trick.

How do I start a garden to feed my family? ›

The first step is to figure out how much of a specific food item your family eats during an average week. Multiply that out by 52, then calculate how much of each crop you need to grow to preserve that amount of food. This will be based on the average yield each of those plants produces.

How many plants to feed a family of four? ›

Common questions about planting enough food

In general, you'll need 150 to 200 square feet of garden space per person in order to feed everyone in your family year-round. So for the average family of four, a plot that is 600 to 800 square feet (20×30 to 20×40) should do the trick.

What vegetables are worth growing? ›

10 Vegetables That Provide the Best Payback
  • Tomatoes. These aren't the easiest to grow, but if you can nurse tomato plants through issues such as blight, septoria leaf spot, and groundhog attacks, the payoff is huge. ...
  • Peppers. ...
  • Cucumbers. ...
  • Asparagus. ...
  • Onions, Leeks, Shallots, Garlic. ...
  • Lettuce. ...
  • Squash. ...
  • Rhubarb.

How big of a garden do you need to feed a family of 7? ›

You generally get more yield in a small space if you plant an herb, fruit, or vegetable garden in wide rows. In “How To Grow More Vegetables”, intensive gardening guru, John Jeavons, says you'll need about 200 sq. ft. per person to grow enough vegetables and soft fruits for the growing season at intermediate yields.

What is the best month to plant tomatoes? ›

Tomatoes are warm-season plants that do not tolerate frost or chilly temperatures. We normally recommend planting early to mid-May when the danger of frost has past and soil has had a chance to warm. Be sure to save the sunniest spots for your tomatoes, this will give you optimum fruit production.

How big of a farm do I need to feed a family of 4? ›

For the average family of four, you can expect to grow a year's worth of food on three to five acres. We really do think that five acres is the sweet spot because it allows you to stack your animals and really utilize permaculture practices. One acre for gardens, perennials and fruit trees.

What vegetable grows all year long? ›

Artichokes, asparagus, beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, endive, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce, mustard greens, onions, onion and garlic sets, radishes, parsnips, salsify, turnips, parsley, spinach, Swiss chard, rhubarb, horseradish.

How to produce vegetables all year round? ›

6 Proven Strategies for Year-round Harvests
  1. Extend the Growing Season. Mid to late fall brings the first frosts for many gardeners, when growth slows and the season officially draws to a close. ...
  2. Overwinter Vegetables. ...
  3. Close the 'Hungry Gap' ...
  4. Make an Early Start. ...
  5. Spread Your Harvests. ...
  6. Plant in Succession.
Oct 27, 2017

What is the term for growing food? ›

crop-raising (noun as in farming) Strongest matches. agriculture breeding cultivation culture gardening grazing production ranching. Strong matches. agronomy feeding fertilizing gleaning growing harvesting homesteading hydroponics landscaping operating reaping seeding threshing tillage.

What is growing food called? ›

Horticulture is defined as that branch of agriculture concerned with growing plants that are used by people for food, for medicinal purposes, and for aesthetic gratification. Horticulture is divided into specializations.

What is a person who grows food called? ›

A farmer is a person that raises living things for food or materials. Farmers usually raise field crops, orchards, vineyards, poultry, or other livestock. A farmer might own the farmed land or might work as a laborer on land owned by others.

What is the meaning of feeding the family? ›

verb. To feed a family or a community means to supply food for them. Collins COBUILD Advanced Learner's Dictionary. Copyright © HarperCollins Publishers.


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