Planning Nex Year’s Garden – What Could You Produce?

Many people arrive at the end of the gardening season and wish they had planned their garden better. Often there is wasted space, and sometimes we have grown things that were not used, and perhaps couldn’t even be given away.

Now is a good time to begin planning for next year’s garden – to make sure you realize the greatest benefit from your valuable time and available space, and that you make the most of those precious 6 months of growing which nature provides us.

First you should decide what your garden is used for. Is it for casual use, with just a few things grown for fun, or do you depend on it as a major source of your family’s food? Next, decide what kinds of things are best to grow – juicy tomatoes, or that new triple-sweet corn. And then plan for how much of each thing you will grow.

How your garden is used depends on 1) whether or not you’re able or willing to devote serious effort to your garden, 2) whether you expect to feed your family just during the growing season or for the entire year, 3) what things your family likes to eat, 4) will there be supplementation from other sources, or will you be depending on your garden completely, and 5) do you want or expect to earn money from the sale of your produce.

An excellent and inexpensive database of commonly grown vegetables, with when, where, and how they can be grown, as well as how much they will produce, is contained on the Garden Wizard and Garden Master CD’s. These are wonderful resources for the serious family gardener, and can be found at www.foodforeveryone.org under Software.

I recommend growing high-value and ever-bearing crops, such as tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, cucumbers, pole beans, zucchini, etc., to maximize your yield in the minimum space, for the least cost and effort.

Let’s assume you have a large family you want to feed from your garden, and that you have 1/8th of an acre that can be used for this purpose. I’ll give examples of what can be grown in 30′-long soil-beds.

On 1/8th of an acre you should be able to grow thirty two 30’-long soil-beds that are 18” wide, with 3 ½’ interior aisles and 5’ end aisles.

Using vertical growing with the Mittleider Method (which includes organic gardening, container gardening, hydroponic gardening, and soil gardening), your garden should produce the following amounts of fresh, healthy vegetables:

Five beds of indeterminate tomatoes – 2,000-4,000# of tomatoes from July through October. Two beds of sweet peppers – 500-1,000 peppers. Two beds of eggplant – 500-1,000 eggplant. Two beds of cucumber – 750-1,500 cucumbers. Three beds of pole beans – 400-800# of beans. Two beds of zucchini – 500-1,000# of zucchini.

So far we’ve only used 1/2 of the garden, and you have more than enough vegetables to feed the family during the growing season, with excess to sell or give away. Doubling the space of these 6 crops could provide income to buy other food staples, and/or provide sufficient to dry or bottle food for the winter months.

Growing easily-stored food in the other half of your garden, such as potatoes, cabbage, beets, onions, turnips and carrots can provide the family fresh food during the winter. You should be able to produce the following amounts, and if you will provide proper cold storage these can be usable for up to 6 months.

Two beds of carrots – 200-400# of carrots. Two beds of cabbage – 200-400# of cabbage. One bed of beets – 100-200# of beets. Two beds of onions – 200-400# of onions. Five beds of potatoes – 500-1,000# of potatoes.

The carrots, cabbage and beet crops can often be doubled by growing an early and late crop in the same space, which make these varieties more valuable for the serious grower.

In this scenario you have four beds left to plant. Crops like corn, large squash, and watermelon should only be grown if you have ample EXTRA space, because they take much space for the yield they produce. For example one bed of corn should produce about 90-100 ears of corn – all within about 2 weeks, whereas a bed of tomatoes should produce 400-800 POUNDS of tomatoes, spaced over 4 months.

Take the time now for this important planning exercise. Have your family decide what they want to eat, calculate the amounts of each vegetable needed, and then plan your space so you can grow at least that much in your garden.

Good Growing!

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Jim Kennard, President of Food For Everyone Foundation, has a wealth of teaching and gardening training and experience upon which to draw in helping the Foundation’s mission of “Teaching the world to grow food one family at a time.” Jim has been a Mittleider gardener for the past twenty nine years; he is a Master Mittleider Gardening Instructor, and has taught classes and worked one-on-one with Dr. Jacob Mittleider on several humanitarian gardening training projects in the USA and abroad. He has conducted projects in Armenia, America, Madagascar, and Turkey by himself. He assists gardeners all over the world from the https://www.foodforeveryone.org website FAQ pages and free Gardening Group, and grows a large demonstration garden at Utah’s Hogle Zoo in his spare time.

Gardening Books, CDs and Software are available at https://www.foodforeveryone.org

Growing and Maintaining a Sustainable Garden

Having a sustainable garden means very different things to different people. Some folks are led to believe that a sustainable garden must use only organic materials, because someday the commercially-available mineral nutrients may not be available. To me this sounds somewhat like the suggestion that we should all ride bicycles because someday gasoline may not be available.

I suggest that a sustainable garden means one that can be used productively over an extended period of time, and would necessarily involve several elements, including the following:

  1. Growing food you want to eat, so you are motivated to continue growing,
  2. Growing economically, so that it is worthwhile doing, and
  3. Taking care of environmental issues, so that the ground will continue to support growing healthy crops.

You can grow a sustainable garden using organic gardening, container gardening, hydroponic gardening, or soil-bed gardening.  The Mittleider method encompasses them all. 

Growing Food You Want to Eat  The plants to be grown should be chosen primarily on what your family wants to eat, and what will grow in your locale.  The Garden master CD, available at www.growfood.com in the Store section, has an excellent vegetable database, which will give you all you need to know about which vegi’s you should plant, as well as when and where to plant them, and how much you can expect to harvest.  I could take this whole article to rave about the GM CD, but you can look that up in the Software category.

After that, consideration might be given to using heirloom seed rather than hybrid, if you are very concerned about losing the ability to replace seed each year from commercial sources. Growing for seed is easy if you’re growing heirloom corn or tomatoes, but very difficult and time-consuming if you’re wanting non-fruiting vegetables like onions, carrots, lettuce, etc.

An easy and inexpensive alternative to trying to harvest your own seeds is to buy the Garden-In-A-Can.  This is a #10 can full of 15 varieties of triple-sealed heirloom seed, available at www.growfood.com.  Storing it in a cool dry place will maintain a high germination percentage for up to ten years, and makes me grin (because I don’t have to do it) every time I think of the folks trying to grow for seed in their own backyard.

Growing Productively and Economically

Using the best-known growing practices will assure you the greatest yield of healthy vegetables from the smallest space, and with the least amount of labor and financial inputs per unit of production. By doing this a family can be self sufficient in their food requirements from proper gardening of a small fraction of an acre. I promise those we teach that they will have twice the yield on only 25% of the space they’ve used traditionally.

This is the greatest evidence of success in achieving a sustainable garden. Good examples of excellent, high-yield gardening methods that have been proven effective worldwide are found in the gardening books and CD’s at www.foodforeveryone.org. And many pictures of successful gardens using these methods can be seen at the free gardening group MittleiderMethodGardening@yahoogroups.com.

Caring for the environment

Gardening should always be done without injuring the land, but rather should improve the land, so that it will continue to support healthy plants indefinitely. Therefore, pesticides and herbicides should be used very judiciously, and only in extreme need.

Wherever possible these issues should be handled by cultural practices, such as those taught by Dr. Jacob R. Mittleider in the Mittleider Gardening Course and other books, CD’s and software at www.growfood.com as follows:

  1. Eliminate all weeds from the garden area before planting and during the growing season. If not weeds will steal most of the water and nutrients from your crops.
  2. Prepare the growing area to be ideal for plant growth, but inhospitable to bugs and diseases.
  3. Water only the plants’ root zone.  This saves over 1/2 the water usually used.
  4. Begin plants in a protected environment for a fast, healthy and strong start.
  5. Feed plants balanced natural mineral nutrients to assure fast and healthy growth.
  6. Harvest all plants at maturity to avoid allowing pests and diseases to multiply.
  7. Discard any bug or disease infested plant parts away from the garden, and incorporate healthy plant parts into the soil to improve soil structure.

Following these sustainable gardening procedures will assure your family a great yield of healthy vegetables, give tremendous satisfaction, and even give you pleasure for many years to come.