Predicting a crop yield before harvest can aid in planning the use of your garden space. Predicting how much each person in your household consumes will also help you determine how much to plant. Knowing how much space each plant requires and when it will reach harvest will help you determine how much space to set aside for each crop and when.
Crop yield estimates and consumption predictions are largely base on experience. Your vegetable needs may change from year-to-year.
Keeping a food log will help you determine how much to grow for your household. Record how often you eat lettuce, for example, and you will soon determine how much to grow. Do you eat tomatoes fresh or do you process and freeze them for winter use–or both? A food log is a simple way to learn about your eating habits and preferences.
Estimating Crop Yields
To estimate crop yields in your garden, follow these steps:
- Select a 10-foot section of row to measure your harvest. If you plant wide rows or intensive beds, measure plantings and harvest by the square foot.
- Note the number of plants growing in the measured section. Be sure to note the cultivar or variety of plant you are growing. Differing cultivars can vary in yield.
- Harvest the crop from the measured section.
- Weigh the sample harvest for total yield; you can also count the yield bean-by-bean or tomato-by-tomato.
- Record the results so that you can plan and compare the results to future harvests.
Yields will vary according to garden conditions and variety planted. Weather and growing conditions can change from year to year; these changes can affect yield.
Choosing Crops to Plant
Here are important considerations in choosing crops for planting in the home garden:
- Grow what you will eat or what you can store or give away. Overplanting requires time, energy, and natural resources.
- Grow what you can’t buy. Grow crops that are hard to come by at the farmers’ market or grocery store. Choose varieties recommended by friends and neighbors.
- Grow crops that are expensive to buy at the farmers’ market or grocery store but easily grown at home.
- Grow what tastes best home-grown. Peas and sweet corn taste much better fresh from the garden.
Vegetable Crops that Give the Most for the Least
Here are easy-to-grow vegetables that will give you a good return on little effort:
• Tomatoes. Grow two plants for each person in the family.
• Bush beans. Plant five feet of row for each person.
• Beets. Plant two feet or row for each person and make several succession sowings.
• Carrots. Plant two feet of row for each person; make several sowings.
• Lettuce. Plant three feet of row for each person; make three sowings.
• Swiss chard. Plant three feet of row for each person.
• New Zealand spinach. Plant two feet of row for each person.
• Radishes. Plant one foot of row three or four times successionally for each person.