| by Kenneth Chase | 51 comments

Growing Enough Food to Feed a Family – How Much Do You Need to Plant?

[Music] A common question that gardeners ask is “How much is the food we eat as a
family can we grow ourselves?” This depends on a number of factors, so
here are the key things you need to consider. The biggest factor which will determine
how much you can grow is how much land you have. There are many ways to maximize the crops you can grow in any given space, but quite simply, the more land you have,
the more crops you can grow. So, how much land is enough for a family
to grow everything they need for a year? Research in the 1970s by
John Jeavons and Ecology Action found that 4,000 square feet of
growing space was enough land to sustain one person on a vegetarian diet for a year, with around another 4,000 square feet usually required for access paths and storage, so that’s a plot 80 feet by 100 feet. How much you can
grow in this space will depend on your climate, weather and soil and, crucially, how much time you have. Tending to 4,000 square feet, particularly at the height of the growing season, will take many hours a week, weeding, watering and harvesting. It’s important to choose to grow plants which you already like to eat – there’s little point in growing asparagus if no one in your family likes to eat it! Your grocery bills, or a trip to the local farmers’ market are good places to start. Create a list of crops and note how much
you eat per week, then multiply that for a whole year’s
supply. So, for 5lbs of potatoes a week, that’s 20lbs a month – 240lbs a year. So you’ll aim to grow this amount at least,
with a little more to account for losses due to pests or diseases for example. How much you want to harvest will
dictate how many plants you need to grow and how much space you’ll need to grow them in. Some crops produce many vegetables or fruit per plant so you’ll need less of these plans to
obtain a large harvest. Others produce one vegetable per plant and require correspondingly more to be sown. Here are our suggestions for some of the most common crops: For potatoes, you’ll want to harvest 75-
200lbs per person per year. Each 10 foot row will yield 10-20lbs, so you need total rows of 75 to 100
feet, which is about 85 plants. For carrots a harvest of 7-20lbs should be enough for one person. A 10 foot row will yield 7-10lbs, so plant total rows of 10-20 feet,
which is about 30 to 60 plants. For tomatoes, aim for a harvest of 15-65lbs per person. A 10 foot row will yield 15-45lbs of
fruit, so plan total rows of 10-15 feet, which is about 6-10 plants. The Garden Planner works out the row length required for a certain number of plants, so for other crops just continue this process of working out how much you’ll eat,
researching typical yields in your area, and working out how many plants you’ll
need. There are some tried and tested growing techniques which help you to get the most from any garden no matter how big or how small. Where possible, plant early, mid and late varieties of your crops. This will help to provide a steady flow of produce throughout the season. It can also help reduce losses due to
pests and diseases as your plants will be in different
stages of growth at different times. So for example, with potatoes you could
choose 3 different varieties – a very early, a second early and a main crop
variety. Many other crops have seasonal varieties
too, including peas, beans, apples, onions and
corn. Succession planting is all about
maximizing the space you have available, ensuring that there is always something
growing in the ground. So, as you harvest your first early potatoes in
June, you would then plant a quick-growing crop
such as some beets. The Garden Planner can help keep track
of this. Set the dates that crops will be in the ground and select a specific month to see what
space might be available. Then pop in a few rows of the
succession crop. Extend your season and protect your
crops by using greenhouses, cold frames, or a hoop house. In most areas this will add an extra few weeks at the start and end of the growing season, and in cooler climates will ensure you
are much more successful with tender crops like tomatoes,
cucumbers and melons. They will also help to protect your
crops from unseasonal weather and from some pests such as birds, small
mammals and deer. Plus it’s always welcome to be able to
harvest fresh produce early in the season! Calorie crops are those which have a high calorie content per weight of crop. If you’re growing lots of your own food,
you’ll want to include the top 5 calorie crops, which are potatoes, corn, beans, winter squash, and perhaps grains such as wheat. These crops fill you up, are generally
much less work than other crops such as salads or tender crops, and are very versatile. They store well for long periods and are endlessly useful in the kitchen. Growing any fresh food in your garden is
a great way to feed your family – it doesn’t have to be about being
totally self-sufficient. Whether you have a few containers by a
back door or have a two-acre plot, you’ll be able to add fresh ingredients
to your meals and to reduce your grocery bills, and if you garden organically and
sustainably, you’ll be reducing your environmental impact too. [Music]


Linda Casey

Feb 2, 2014, 12:47 pm Reply

Thank you

Steve Adams

Feb 2, 2014, 5:18 pm Reply

And…. how would you recommend storing a years worth of vegetables at the end of Summer/Fall ?


Feb 2, 2014, 5:58 pm Reply

How do you grow enough food to feed your family?
In this video: find out how to answer this essential question, & learn techniques to help you meet your required yields:
Growing Enough Food to Feed a Family – How Much Do You Need to Plant? #vegetablegardening #growyourown   #growingvegetables  

Christopher Wanjek

Feb 2, 2014, 6:35 pm Reply

Good advice, but the word "sunlight" isn't mentioned once.  I think most crops need at least 8 hours for good yield.  Anything less results in smaller, slower growing plants.  So, in my opinion, sunshine is as important as space.  

Also, it was hinted at, but you could grow a continuous supply (i.e. weekly harvest) of, say, radishes in four boxes, planted at one week intervals.  They take 28 days to grow.  Similarly, you could have a continuous (weekly) supply of carrots or beets with eight boxes… assuming the box/container is large enough to grow about a dozen of these root vegetables.  But again, it all depends on sunlight… of which I have little.  

Always Learnin’

Feb 2, 2014, 6:16 pm Reply

This was a great video.

Sabrina Giesler

Feb 2, 2014, 5:03 am Reply

Wonderful garden planner!  I will be getting an account from Mother Earth News as I use their site the most often.  Thank-you~!~


Feb 2, 2014, 6:12 pm Reply

It would be intéressant to have a vidéo explanning how we can Keep the crop.for à long period of time, how to conserve potato ,tomato and other veggie

Rebecca Benedict

Mar 3, 2014, 4:55 pm Reply

What program are you using in the video for planning?  good info in the video, thanks for sharing.


Mar 3, 2014, 4:25 am Reply

Im curious what computer program you are using to plan your garden?


Apr 4, 2014, 3:12 am Reply

1:25 They have rhubarb yoghurt in the UK? You guys are lucky.


Jun 6, 2014, 10:36 pm Reply

extra food grown can be sold, or put up in case of an odd event… growing only what you think you'll need can result in you ending up hungry more often that you'd like.

Bush Girl Karen

Jun 6, 2014, 8:02 am Reply

Is there a book you used to reference to see how much food produces what? I would be interested. Great video! 


Sep 9, 2014, 10:47 pm Reply

It is just hubby and I (no kids not ever alas) but we will have many animals, both pets but mostly livestock. I still have not figured out how everyone can graze from the kitchen garden but also a pasture and standard crops for animal's winter supplies.

QTP Films

Oct 10, 2014, 12:29 pm Reply



Nov 11, 2014, 6:00 pm Reply

Great video… Thanks for the knowledge.

Gypsy Wanderer

Dec 12, 2014, 3:56 pm Reply

Is that is the KGI garden planner? it looks like the same one The Old Farmers Almanac uses as well.

Rebeca Fiallo

Mar 3, 2015, 6:14 pm Reply

Great help!  We live in the Caribbean where we can grow food all year around… I'm going to beging right now!

Yosh, The Silkie

Mar 3, 2015, 10:38 pm Reply

Thank you!

Bo Simpson

May 5, 2015, 5:22 pm Reply

What is the name of that garden planning program? And, is it still available? Great video! 🙂

Aly Hodge

May 5, 2015, 3:03 am Reply

Very good information than you

Lindsey Jackson

Jun 6, 2015, 8:35 am Reply

I guess I'm going to die then… Because I don't have the land or time to do this, which sucks cuz the government is trying to kill b us by putting chemicals in our food. Fuck!

Judith Lewis

Nov 11, 2015, 11:01 pm Reply

I think the amounts needed are a little excessive but the overall info was very good.

Ian Ribeiro

Dec 12, 2015, 6:19 pm Reply

1500 sq. meter for two people? That is ludacris! HAHHAHAH Try being a bit more intensive, maybe?

Nate M

Dec 12, 2015, 1:42 am Reply

You should focus on growing "expensive" fruits and veggies. For example, no point in growing bananas since they cost 40 cents a pound.

June D

Feb 2, 2016, 8:03 am Reply

I don't care for a subscription planner, I would just like to buy one strait out. Any suggestions as to where I could find one to purchase? At a reasonable price, of course.

Hitarth Patel

Mar 3, 2016, 1:29 pm Reply

Great Video and thanks for sharing. Which software that you are using?


Mar 3, 2016, 9:19 pm Reply

How can u grow 365 ? what about winter ?


Apr 4, 2016, 8:08 am Reply

Can we configure the software to use the metric system? Is it available in other languages?


May 5, 2016, 3:52 am Reply

I go through 10 pounds of carrots a week for juice

antje tautkus

Jun 6, 2016, 6:36 pm Reply

great video…thnX;)


Dec 12, 2016, 2:35 am Reply

wth? 4k square feet for 1 person? i grow in 500 square feet for 2 people, produce enough for 8 months. i came here to find out how to squeeze another 4 months out of it but i guess this video is outdated as hell

Sean Callaway

Jan 1, 2017, 6:27 pm Reply

or we can starve like feudalism

Tired mum

Feb 2, 2017, 11:09 am Reply

Yikes. Never be able to get that much land in uk


Apr 4, 2017, 7:58 pm Reply

oh how i wish there were metric conversions on this video..

Sam Lyons

Jun 6, 2017, 2:03 am Reply

Fantastic logical info…….let us not forget growing up the sides of our homes and walls

Roberta Forastieri

Jul 7, 2017, 1:43 pm Reply

thank you o much for this video .


Sep 9, 2017, 9:10 pm Reply

where do you get a garden planner

Keep the Faith

Dec 12, 2017, 2:29 pm Reply

Gardening and feeding our family is a pretty big task.I see why "Family Gardens" were common.No one wants to work and let another get 100% benefits!
It Takes.. 6-7 ears to make a1qt jar. A dozen ears will make 1-1/2 qt..
A bushel weights about 35#-thats 60 ears..processes to 14-17 pints or 7-8qts..
*?Greenbeans ~
It takes about 4# to fill 1 qt jar.
You can harvest nesrly30-50# of GB per 10ft row,in a season.(?)
38-30# per bushel will yield 30-40 pints..
**We harvested about 9 bushel from 9-24ft rows.
?Carrots ~..30 plants could yield 7-10#
It takes 17.5:# for 7qts .
50# a bushel=30-40 pints
?Beets~ 52#a bushel=
30 plants yield about 7-10#
It takes 2-3.5 # for 1 qt..
?Lima -shell beans~
40# a bushel…3-5# per 1 qt..
*In pod…you could expect 30-50 pounds in a complete season for a 24 ft row…
3# head =1qt canned
5-7 plants is about 4#=1 qt canned.
48-50#-is a bushel..=24 qt processed..
Each plant can produce 10–+6oz fruit.. or 2-3# per plant…
26-30# per tall bushel.. 17 qt or 34 pt frozen..
5-10# per 10 ft row
?Field peas~
25# in pod..a bushel..==13 # shelled
It takes about 3.5-4# per qt
?Potatoes ~
60# per bushel= 20 qt jars ..
Each plant can produce 3-6# of produce..
?Summer squash
Is 40-44# a bushel. 40 pts frozen..2-4# needed to can 1 qt jar.
?Winter squash
3#-= 2 pt frozen..2.5-3# for 1 qt
Bushel is 53#..it tKes 2.5-3.5 for 1 qt…. each plant can produce 3-7# of fruit or more..

AbiYah Yasharal

Mar 3, 2018, 8:09 pm Reply

Thank you, one of the most useful videos on here!

Ronald Bequeath

Apr 4, 2018, 8:45 pm Reply

Where can i get the garden planner, thankyou.

Sinaya Benjamin

Apr 4, 2018, 5:20 am Reply


Virginia Lacar

May 5, 2018, 9:20 am Reply

Thanks for the nice information about planting different kinds of vegetables that will be sustainable to our needed…

cynthia g

May 5, 2018, 6:58 pm Reply

Problem is what do you do with all the stuff you cannot eat during a harvest? That means MORE time canning, or selling? Doesn't make sense.

Anonymous 1

Jun 6, 2018, 6:17 pm Reply

MONEY$$$$$ to grow good crops it takes alot of it..

Boris Kolarov

Jun 6, 2018, 11:30 pm Reply

That's a great video! I think it's possible to grow food for two people on under 1000 square meters. What would you say? Considering the use of permaculture and biointensive gardening. There is a good example of the "urban homestead" and others that grow everything for a family of 4 and even in surplus for selling on around 1300 square meters. That's thanks to putting all seeds, veg, fruits very close to each other and using the square foot/ square inch gardening methods.

Caleb Rimes

Nov 11, 2018, 3:13 am Reply

100% pointless video


Jan 1, 2019, 8:17 am Reply


c koch

Mar 3, 2019, 4:54 am Reply

What are those protective screens hoops @5:31 ?

Yasu Leone

Mar 3, 2019, 6:58 am Reply

Is it possible to grow and harvest wheat on your own to make bread too?

Paul & Fiona Sullivan

Jul 7, 2019, 2:39 pm Reply

we have a circular garden. I'm guessing the garden planner cannot represent that?


Sep 9, 2019, 6:43 pm Reply

This is a very good video aside from the notion that a vegetarian diet is sustainable. What do you plan to fertilize the soil with? The only sustainable way is to have enough land for plants and at LEAST some chicken. Or better yet, some chicken, some rabbits, and maybe a pig, goat or a few sheep, maybe even a cow. That way you'll always have enough fertilizer for your crops as well as for the pasture parts of your farm and that's frankly the only way to sustainable living. Not only that, you can then actually have less growing and more pasture space, because meat and fat is full of vitamins, nutritions and keeps you satiated far longer than any vegetable or fruit could. But that's not all. You can use the hides to make leather, aka clothes, tools, and other things. You can use wool to make clothes as well or feathers to use in your pillows and blankets. You can make butter and cheese from milk. You can actually feed a dog or cat if you have meat around. One pig can feed a family for a whole year and it's a good outlet for kitchen scraps. Eggs are incredibly healthy and the chicken can keep pests at your garden beds at bay. Raising both, plans and animals, is really the only way to be moderately self-sufficient. And btw., if you're planning on having fruit trees, then you don't even need any extra space, you just use the ground below the trees as pasture and for hay making. It's literally how our ancestors did it and they knew bloody well why!

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