When it comes to growing your family’s food, nothing is more valuable that a good vegetable garden plan.
Backyard vegetable gardening continues to increase in popularity. And with good reason.
There is just something so incredibly special about knowing where your food comes from. And when that “somewhere” is your own backyard, it takes on a whole new level of special!
A garden is the perfect way to grow nutritious, healthy, pesticide-free food.
And with a carefully crafted vegetable garden plan, you can maximize your efforts to create a year-round pantry that feeds your family.
Even better, it saves big dollars on the family budget too!
Here are four big keys to help create the perfect vegetable garden plan for your backyard.
4 Keys To A Great Vegetable Garden Plan
#1 Take Stock Of What You Consume Now
Before that first plant is planted, know what you need to grow!
To grow more of your family’s food, start by figuring out what you eat most. This is a huge key to eliminating precious garden space on unwanted crops.
Do you like potatoes and tomatoes? Does your family eat a lot of garlic? How about salsa and pasta sauce? Salads?
Begin by writing down what vegetables you and your family eat most. And which of those foods can be grown in the garden.
This eliminates the issue of growing things you won’t consume, or not having enough of what you love to eat.
This step sounds overly simple, but is a major key in getting your vegetable garden plan off to the right start.
Without knowing what you eat, its hard to plant and grow what you will need.
#2 Create Annual Food Goals
Next, you need to figure out how much you need of what you love to eat. And that includes fresh and canned foods that you can preserve.
Think of it as creating a grocery list for an entire year.
Simply write down what you think you use each month. Then, multiply it by 12 for a yearly food goal.
For example, if you use about 4 jars of salsa each month, then you need to can or preserve at least 48 jars for a year’s supply.
Likewise, if your family eats green beans or corn 4 times a month, you will need 48 servings.
This step is critical in keeping you on track as you create your vegetable garden plan.
It will never be a perfect process, but it sets the stage for success.
#3 Plan and Plant To Grow What You and Your Family Like To Eat Most
Now its time to create that vegetable garden plan!
Using your annual food supply list, you can dedicate garden space accordingly.
If your list is high on tomato products like salsa, pasta sauce and tomato juice, then you will need to plant a fair amount of tomatoes.
Dedicating The Garden To What You Love To Eat
We dedicate two rows in our garden (14 to 16 plants) to Amish Paste and San Marzano tomato plants every year.
That grows enough tomatoes to supply our food goals of 48 salsa pints, 36 pasta sauce quarts, and a few jars of homemade ketchup and barbecue sauce.
The San Marzano’s are simply amazing! (Seed Link : San Marzano)
We then grow a few other heirloom varieties for fresh eating throughout the summer.
It is a plan that always keeps us in fresh and preserves tomatoes and tomato products. See our 2018 Garden Plan as an example here : 2018 Garden Plan
But it all starts with our annual food goals. Without knowing how much we need, we wouldn’t have a clue how much to plant.
We use the same process for our green beans, popcorn, garlic, and every other crop.
It’s never perfect. We still fall short at times on a few things. And other times, we might be overloaded on something.
It Gets A Little Easier Every Year!
And remember, your plan will get better every year. Nothing will help your plan more than experience.
Plants grow and produce differently depending on where they are grown. And they can be affected by soil conditions, weather conditions, pests and more.
However, it is far better and easier to have the plan in place to make the most of the garden space!
Most importantly, as each year passes, it gets a little easier to judge from experience.
As for that experience – here is a little extra tip we have learned over the years.
Never plant more than one cherry tomato plant!
Trust me, one is more than enough to feed the largest family. They simply never stop growing and producing.
#4 Supplement Your Growing With Local Sources
Last but not least, don’t get caught up trying to grow everything.
Concentrate efforts on growing what you love. And what grows well in the space you have.
If there are things you and your family want to preserve that you can’t grow – or grow enough of – then buy in bulk. There are many great local farmers and farmer’s markets now growing and selling great produce.
A great example for us is sweet corn. We love it fresh, and love to preserve it as well.
Unfortunately, it takes up too much of our available space. Especially to grow what we need for an entire year.
However, we have a local farmer down the road that grows incredible organic sweet corn.
We purchase in bulk from him. Then, we can and freeze it to have all year-long.
Not only is it inexpensive, it’s organic and delicious!
With a little planning, you really can grow and feed your family more than you ever imagined!
Jim and Mary. If you would like to receive our DIY, Gardening and Recipe articles each week, you can sign up to follow the blog via email in the right hand column above, “Like” us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter. This article may contain affiliate links.