How Much Garden Do You Need to Feed Your Family For a Year?

Groups follow set patterns of behavior. If they are doing this, they will do this next. In the scriptures the Lord tells us he has given us patterns so we can predict what will happen. To warn us of things to come.

We are on a path similar to pre WWII. It’s why I’ve studied what happened in the U.S. and abroad in war torn countries like England. Those out of debt and who could feed themselves fared better as countries switch their attention toward the needs of the military. The task seems daunting when I think about how many groceries we lug home from the store in one month alone. I think we could do it if it was only Kirk and I but six or more…. That’s what scares me.

But some is always better than none. For most people at least 4,000 square feet per person is needed. 4,000 square feet that’s a garden 40 by 100 feet or just over 62.75 ft. by 62.75 ft. Some can do it in far less and others it would take more because we live in a huge difference in growing zones.

Would it make you reconsider what you grew in your garden plot if you had to live off of it? It has me. I’ve decided on easy to grow in our area, reliable, high yielding, ones that stored well, and ones you could eat almost the whole plant. Now you know why I’m studying each vegetable plant in a different light.

Succession planting is a must as it stretches out the amount you can grow. With our short season, that means greenhouse, cold frames, and row covers. It means planting what I can in the fall for an early spring harvest. It means I need to figure out how to grow vertically. Maybe if I put the trellises East to West, not North to South I could get by. I’m going to try. Wide grow beds give you up to 2 1/2 times more crops per space because fewer walking rows. I’m going to look more into companion planting. Crops which have fruits above ground with vegetables below ground – crowding effectively. Hugelkultures which are large dirt mounds increase growing space also and I will eventually incorporate the method.


I could increase the garden area but I have not the water nor the time and energy besides more from less needs to be maximized first. Not sprinkling saves water but that is not first on the priority list right now but when other things are figured out it will be on the table for figuring out. We have dry air in Wyoming, great to breath but drying to the soil and plants so I need to increase natural mulching material. It will do some mulching as it helped tremendously with the apple trees cutting the water consumption almost in half. The tomatoes did not take it well. It cooled the soil too much. It is very complex when you think beyond a tasty treat. It will be a matter of constant change since we live in a world of constant change. Our weather, our aging bodies, our circumstances etc.

But back to the question, how many plants do they recommend for four people ? I’ll give you a few and let you go to the link for the rest.

5 – broccoli plants

15 foot row of beans if succession planted.

10 foot row if succession planted

cucumbers – 2 hills (they aren’t making pickles obviously)

corn – 15 feet succession planted

greens – spring and fall

cabbage – 5 plants spring and fall

There are a number of crops left off of this list so go to other sites also. Some from areas similar to your own would be most helpful (I wish I’d found one for Wyoming). A selection of lists is best to study. The lists are just a jumping off point to custom build your own survival garden as you factor in likes and dislikes, age, size, and metabolism of individuals in your family group.

I’ve also found it is pretty important to have more than a years supply in wait in the pantry and freezer. I’ve had crop failures that meant those supplies came in pretty handy.

But I think the thing that has struck me over and over when I’ve researched various lists of the number of plants needed to grow per person is we need to stretch our growing season. Most of the harvest is August and early, early September. I can’t do it all in that short period of time.


In the past I just planted whole bunches of what we liked but this year I’m going to pay more attention to the number of plants or row lengths of each vegetable we plant. Then figure the amount of food we get from these numbers. Meanwhile I’ll plan a chart that will allow me diversity with more than one variety of each vegetable. One year I’ll grow pickling cucumbers and make pickles for two years and save seed. Then the next year an eating variety to prevent cross pollination and save space. Beans are pollinated before the flowers open but I could grow seed one year from one variety and from another the next. If I have beans for seeds, then I can’t also pick a bean crop from them so it would take up a great deal of space to do it all at once.

When you can’t do it all every year it makes you stop and think about:

  • Emergency storage of frozen or canned vegetables
  • Rotation of crops grown
  • Rotation of which crops grown for seed

It’s a matter of space, water, energy, and time. Gardening is not a light minded  en-devour especially when survival is the goal.

So are you thinking yet? What can you do differently to prepare yourself for what is to come. History repeats itself because groups are predictable. Things are relatively good in comparison to what is to come so this is the time to prepare.

Now you know why I’ve been studying intently how to use the whole plant. We are  wasteful, disrespectful, and unappreciative. We’ve lost a great deal in this easy life where we just go to the store and hope someone else will supply us with what we need. History past and present says it will not always be so. Some countries are suffering right now.

We went to the financial advisor yesterday reviewing our retirement preparations. It won’t be flush as life has meant a large output of money to deal with medical issues and keeping family afloat. That will not change but we can make our money stretch with a garden and livestock raised as self-sufficiently as possible. Our investor was fascinated at the seriousness of our changing our financial demands. To get to a point where we need less money to live better. One great bit of advice was to figure out a monthly budget for retirement.



5 thoughts on “How Much Garden Do You Need to Feed Your Family For a Year?

  1. Darla

    My grandpa grew up on a reservation in Oklahoma. He always taught us to save our leaves from the fall. He would put the leaves in chicken wire. In the spring he threw his potatoes in the leaves. The potatoes grew inside the chicken wire. We never dug up potatoes. When we wanted potatoes we would just go through the leaves & get them.
    You could do this & save space for other crops.


    1. Great idea! I just need leaves. If I had more than part of one leaf bag full each fall I think it would be an awesome idea. I really need to get some pictures up of our yard and surrounding countryside. Wyoming for the most part is open prairie. You can see for miles the rolling hills. Trees – well in the mountains, a few by the creeks, and around houses that have planted them but not everybody does. They rarely volunteer though and die if not cared for. Your comment will help many other though so don’t hesitate to pipe in. I love sharing.


  2. In our region, we can actually get by with less space, but it must be managed very carefully. Not many suburban homes have enogh space around them for such production, and more and more have none at all.


    1. True, but is there not community garden areas where they can grow a small garden and vacant lots where permission can be granted to build gardens shared by the neighborhood? If it was a desire of the people then they would find a way to do some, not pass it off as not easy and so I’m not responsible. Pots on porches, and vegetables in flower gardens, plants growing up fences, and indoor gardens on shelves. One family in Colorado I noticed had a small garden between the sidewalk and the street. Each endeavor gives a measure of self-sufficiency, confidence, experience, knowledge, skills, appreciation, and nutrition. It moves us away from the dependency mind set so extremely prevalent America. Nearly everyone can do something. “I can’t never did nothing.” I always tell my grandchildren for I expect effort, it builds strength.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. For most of the modern society in the Santa Clara Valley, it is not the desire of the people. It is quite sad, particularly in a region that had formerly been famous for horticultural commodities. The Santa Clara Valley was once crowded with orchards. All that excellent soil is still underneath it. Al that excellent climate is still above it. Not many who live there now know or care. There are very few community gardens just because so few want them. Community gardens that were built into new residential developments are vacant and abandoned. It is saddening to see. Fortunately, we can still garden in our own homes, and do so quite nicely in limited space.


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