Estimating Yields of Vegetable Crops and How Much to Plant

Garden bed intensive planting1
Garden bed intensive planting

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 based 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.

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Estimating Crop Yields

To estimate crop yields in your garden, follow these steps:

  1. Select a 10-foot section of a row to measure your harvest. If you plant wide rows or intensive beds, measure plantings and harvest by the square foot.
  2. Note the number of plants growing in the measured section. Be sure to note the cultivar or variety of plants you are growing. Differing cultivars can vary in yield.
  3. Harvest the crop from the measured section.
  4. Weigh the sample harvest for total yield; you can also count the yield bean-by-bean or tomato-by-tomato.
  5. Record the results so that you can plan and compare the results to future harvests.

Yields will vary according to garden conditions and the 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:

  1. Grow what you will eat or what you can store or give away. Overplanting requires time, energy, and natural resources.
  2. 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.
  3. Grow crops that are expensive to buy at the farmers’ market or grocery store but easily grown at home.
  4. Grow what tastes best home-grown. Peas and sweet corn taste much better fresh from the garden.

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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 of 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.

Related Articles:

Vegetable Crops Yields, Plants Per Person Estimator

Vegetable Garden Quality, Yield Savings Comparison

Estimating Yields of Vegetable Crops

Vegetable Crops for Beginning Gardeners

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.

How To Grow Tips

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How To Grow Peppers

How To Grow Broccoli

How To Grow Carrots

How To Grow Beans

How To Grow Corn

How To Grow Peas

How To Grow Lettuce

How To Grow Cucumbers

How To Grow Zucchini and Summer Squash

How To Grow Onions

How To Grow Potatoes

Wide row planting

Vegetable Crop Yields, Plants per Person, and Crop Spacing

Garden bed wide row1

Narrow Bed, Wide Row Vegetable Garden Planting