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Planning out a garden to feed two people all year

Butternut squash seeds"This year I shared my seed order with a friend to bring the price down. I never plant 25 of the same plant. I am curious how much you spent of seeds this year. Also I am curious how many plants of what you are planning."
--- Kathleen


Even though it's a little cheaper to buy all of our seeds at once, I actually plan on two orders per year --- one in the winter for the main season and one in early summer for the fall and winter garden.  This year, I spent $86 on the spring order and I spent $27 last summer on the fall order.  Keep in mind that I do buy from a relatively expensive company (Johnny's) and I buy big packages of many seeds since we grow all of our own vegetables and since I plant heavily in cold soil instead of starting many seeds inside.  On the other side of the equation, I do save a lot of our own seeds and I am sometimes able to eke out last year's packet for another year even for types of vegetable seeds we don't save.  Finally, this calculation doesn't include cover crop seeds, which probably come to another $25 to $50 per year.

To answer your second question --- I plan our garden by area, not by number of plants.  For example, I'll put in 8 beds of broccoli this spring and the same amount again in the fall.  Each bed is roughly 15 to 20 square feet, and I plant using a high-density system, so that would be about 80 broccoli plants for the spring planting and another 80 plants for fall.  As you can see in the table below, since I start most of our spring broccoli plants outside under quick hoops where germination isn't as perfect as inside on a heating pad, I went ahead and bought 1,000 broccoli seeds this year so I'd be sure to have plenty for both spring and fall plantings.  My rule of thumb is to have at least two or three times as many seeds as I need so I can plant heavily and can replant if the first set doesn't come up, gets scratched up by Huckleberry, or gets killed by a freak weather event.  It's always cheaper to buy the next size up than to rush in an extra seed order and pay an extra round of shipping for one package of seeds.

Crop
Spring/Summer Beds
Fall Beds
Seeds ordered
Arugula
1

Saved
Basil
1

Packet
Beans, Green
5 (Succession planted)

Saved
Beans, Mung
2

Saved
Broccoli
8
8
1,000 seeds
Cabbage
4
2
1,000 seeds
Brussels Sprouts

8
(Will order in fall)
Carrots
2
6
5,000 seeds
Corn, Sweet
17 (Succession planted)

1,000 seeds
Cucumbers
6 (Succession planted)

Saved/leftover from last year
Garlic

13
Saved
Kale

12 (Succession planted)
Saved
Lettuce
4 (Succession planted)
10 (Succession planted)
1/4 pound (I plant very heavily so we can harvest lots of  baby leaves)
Mustard

4
Leftover from last year
Okra
2

Saved
Onions
10 (These are bulbing onions from seed.  In addition, I have a bed of perennial Egyptian onions for greens.)
3 (Potato onions)
1,000 seeds.  (In addition, potato onions are planted from divided sets.)
Parsley
3

Packet
Peas, Sugar Snap
4
4
Leftover from last year
Peppers
2

Packet
Poppies, Breadseed
2

Saved
Squash, Butternut
4

Saved
Squash, Summer
8 (Succession planted)

Saved
Strawberries
4 (The goal is to rotate our entire planting every three years, so I remove four beds and plant four new ones every year.)

Started from rooted runners in other beds
Sweet Potatoes
4

I start my own slips from saved tubers.
Swiss Chard
1

Saved
Tatsoi

1
(Will order in fall)
Tokyo Bekana

3
(Will order in fall)
Tomatoes
15 (This is 30 plants)

Saved
Watermelon
4

Saved


I hope that helps you get a handle on how much of an area to plant and how many seeds to buy for those of you planning big gardens this year.  The table above is geared toward Mark's and my tastes, of course, so I don't recommend that anyone precisely mimic what we do.  Total acreage (including small perennials not mentioned here, extensive areas set aside for cover crops, and aisles) comes to about a quarter of an acre, and the biggest cost for that vegetable garden is the straw we splurge on every year for mulch.



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Thanks for answering my questions. I loved the information.
Comment by Kathleen Mon Mar 10 15:36:50 2014

Your comment at the end regarding straw mulch reminded me of a question I had for you. This year i used straw for mulch for the first time - and i have a beutiful crop of wheat coming in around all of my vegetables. Do you have this problem? What do you do to control it?

Mike in Texas

Comment by Mike Mon Mar 10 19:01:25 2014

Mike --- I hear this question a lot and I'm not sure if I'm just getting really good straw, or whether (as I suspect) my expectations are just a lot different from other folks'. We do have a few grains that remain in the straw and that come up in the mulch, but it's much less than the weeds we would have had without the mulch, and the grains are easy to pull up by hand, so I don't worry much about it. On the other hand, if you're seeing more than one clump of grains coming up every few feet, it looks like you need to change your straw supplier to someone who threshes the grains out of the straw more effectively.

Of course, if you're using hay instead of straw, you will see huge numbers of grass weeds coming up, but it doesn't sound like that's your issue?

Comment by anna Tue Mar 11 12:57:10 2014

One very unique homestead, $1,500 per acre, the opportunity of a lifetime