How Many Veggies Does It Take To Feed A Family
I know there isn't a universal answer because different families like different things. But, have you ever looked at your garden and how much it produces in a given year, and then said to yourself "Wow! How much would I have to plant to have enough food to freeze/can/root cellar/dehydrate and feed us for a whole year? I have.
I don't think I have the answers yet for each and every vegetable, but I am slowly getting there, one variety at a time.
There are lots of variables, and it depends too, on which variety/varieties you plant. For example, if you plant carrots that routinely get 7-9" long, you need fewer of them in general, than if you plant carrots that are 5 or 6" long.
If you prefer to 'eat fresh, eat local, eat in-season' and don't freeze, can, dehydrate or root cellar the extra for the gardening "off-season", then the amount of each vegetable would change significantly too.
The following list is the number of various veggies that John Jeavons recommends in his "Hot To Grow More Vegetables..." book. It is for a family of four, growing biointensively, in 1,302 square feet of very well-improved soil. Not all of each variety is planted at one time...some of them are succession-planted. For each and every veggie, he has a recommended spacing/planting pattern described in the book.
Also, because he grows in California, his planting schedule assumes a 6-month growing season in which you can succession plant.
Starting with spring planting 2 weeks before frost:
broccoli 8 seedlings
brussels sprouts 4 seedlings
bush peas 1500 seedlings
cabbage 16 seedlings
carrots 43 seedlings
cauliflower 4 seedlings
cylindra beets 36 seedlings
head lettuce 28 seedlings, staggered plantings to extend harvest
leaf lettuce 48 seedlings, staggered plantings to extend harvest
garlic 3 cloves
onions 39 sets
radishes 10 seeds (I'll assume succession planting every week, though the book doesn't specify
Continuing spring planting, on last frost day:
546 sprouted pieces of Irish potatoes
Continuing spring planting, 2 weeks after last frost:
chard 16 seedlings
spinach 36 seedlings
Continue spring planting, 3 weeks after last frost:
early corn 72 seedlings
regular tomatoes 28 seedlings
Continue spring planting, 4 weeks after last frost, using the following to replace the early brassicas, onions and lettuce:
bush green beans 224 seedlings
bush lima beans 144 seedlings
sweet potatoes 27 seedlings
cosmos (after potatoes are harvested) 12 seedlings
zinnias (after potatoes are harvested) 10 seedlings
cucumbers 18 seedlings
dill 4 seedlings
pumpkins 4 seedlings
sunflowers 4 seedlings
basil 4 seedlings
zucchini 7 seedlings
Continue spring planting, 6 weeks after last frost:
(Begin sprouting 31 lbs. of seed potatoes for fall potatoes)
Replace peas and carrots, as harvested, with:
cantaloupes 12 seedlings
honeydew melons 12 seedlings
midget watermelons 12 seedlings
If growing, transplant into garden:
celery 50 seedlings
Continue spring planting, 7 weeks after last frost:
eggplant 4 seedlings
green peppers 18 seedlings
Continue spring planting, 8 weeks after last frost:
3 parsley seedlings
PLANT FALL POTATOES 10 WEEKS AFTER LAST FROST:
Plant 248 pieces in early corn area after early corn is harvested
Ten Weeks Before First Fall Frost, plant:
head lettuce 11 seedlings
leaf lettuce 55 seedlings
Eight Weeks Before First Fall Frost, plant:
broccoli 1 seedling (I freely confess, I don't know why he says only 1!)
cabbage 15 seedlings
calendulas 10 seedlings
chard 10 seedlings
spinach 37 seedlings
stock 10 seedlings
radishes 41 seeds
That's it. Well, it gives you an idea of how many to plant of each based on his assumptions of what an average family of four needs.
Do I follow his recommendations? No. I consider them as a starting point only, but they give you a lot of food for thought (pun intended).
We adore broccoli, so I plant twice what he recommends, and I plant less beets, cauliflower, and cabbage because we eat less of those.
I also (LOL) plant many more tomatoes than he recommends. And, you might notice, he doesn't even have okra on this list, and I always have a lot of it.
His timing isn't precisely the same as ours, but I included it because it would help a less-experienced gardener understand which times are best for planting which veggies. For example, from looking at his planting dates in relation to frost dates, even a novice could figure out broccoli and peas tolerate more col than eggplant and peppers and should be planted at different times.
I also noticed all his fall crops are cool-season crops, and I plant a mixture of succession plantings of warm-season crops and cool-season crops.
I just thought planting his lists might spark some interesting discussions.
One of them might be this one: CAN a family grow all or most of its own produce in their own garden? (My answer to that is they can with well-improved soil and some gardening experience under their belts, but doing also would, of necessity, involve food preseration of some type. Oh, and that is assuming adequate water via either rainfall or irrigation AND some cooperation from the weather.)
So, let the discussions begin.