Plant Extra

PhotoGrid_1431303736159When planting vegetables (or fruit, flowers, herbs etc.) how do you figure out how many to plant? Here are the three steps that will help you calculate how many seeds or transplants you need.

Step 1- How Much Production Do You Want?

How much do you want to feed your family? To eat fresh? For freezing/canning/preserving? For sharing? For Selling? A google search will lead you to the average production for each plant. From there, you can calculate how many plants you will need to yield the production you want.

Step 2 – Add Extra For The Unexpected

Production doesn’t usually go as planned. There are so many variables that effect production – weather, nutrients, water, disease, pests, etc. Nature is unpredictable…some transplants never settle in, some seeds never sprout. You are always going to loose plants and production to these variables. Double or triple the number of plants you think you need to account for this loss.

Step 3 – Add Extra For Mother Nature

For a healthy and sustainable garden, you’ll need plants to:

  • Feed beneficial insects  – Butterflies, bees, caterpillars, etc. need plant leaves and pollen to eat and flower nectar to drink.
  • Shelter beneficial insects – They need spots hide, lay eggs, shelter larvae and protect chrysalises.
  • Collect seeds – If you want to collect seeds for next years crops, you need extra plants that can flower, get pollinated, produce mature fruit and dry out, so seeds can be collected.
  • Decoy plants – It’s useful to have plants for the “bad” insects to eat. You you have a sustainable garden, you will never get rid of the bad bugs. If you have enough plants, there will be some for the bugs to eat and some left over for you!
  • Find the Goldylocks spot – It’s hard predict where a plant will be happy…to find the perfect spot with just the right amount of sun, heat, shade, cool, moisture, humidity, air movement, shelter etc. for it to thrive. The only way to find the perfect spot, is to plant each variety of vegetable in multiple places. Some plants will wither, some will die, and some will thrive. If you plant extra plants, you’ll have enough plants in the Goldylocks spot to get the production you want.

In general, it takes about 4 times the amount of plants you think you need to get the production you want. iIf you think you need 1 basil plant, plant 4 and there will be some for you, some for friends, some will grow slowly or die, some will flower for the bees (and they will be pretty for you to look at too) and some will go to seed for next year.