My last Growing Points column listed U.S. Department of Agriculture data showing how many pounds of various vegetables, on average, each U.S. consumer ate per year. Having these numbers — and adjusting them to reflect your own likes and dislikes — can help you plan your own vegetable garden, but you need a little more data for that plan. You need to know the recommended row spacing for growing different vegetables; and the average yield per row-foot of each crop.

That information is presented in Table 1, which shows, for example, that beets can be planted in rows that are 1 foot apart, and that a 10-foot row of beets yields, on average, about 10 pounds of beets. These row spacings and yields were taken primarily from seed catalogs. They can vary.

Table 1 also notes whether vegetables grow to a tall (T), medium (M) or short (S) height. Generally, tall crops, such as sweet corn, should be grown at the north end of the garden so that they don’t shade lower growing crops; and the shortest crops — lettuce and spinach, for example — do best at the south end of the garden.

Now, with scissors, you can cut out the rectangles representing the vegetables you like and arrange those rectangles to create a garden design. You might photocopy Table 1 before cutting it up, so that you can try different designs, and so that you have extra rectangles of crops you really like. If your life goal is to grow 100 pounds of rutabaga, make 10 copies of the table, or cut 10 rectangles the same size as the one representing rutabaga in Table 1 and label each one “rutabaga.”

When I made a trial garden plan based on the information in Table 1 and using my favorite vegetables, I came up with the design shown in Table 2. The 30-by-30-foot sample garden yields 513.5 pounds of vegetables — almost 100 pounds more than the average American’s annual consumption of vegetables. The yield per square foot is 0.6 pounds. That could be increased easily by, for example:

  • interplanting pole beans, winter squash and/or pumpkins with corn

  • setting tomato transplants at the base of the pole peas, since the peas will be harvested before the tomatoes put on much growth

  • growing two crops (summer and fall) of broccoli, cabbage and kale in the same space

  • making more than one planting of carrots, beets, lettuce and spinach in the same area

  • planting the smaller crops (lettuce, onions …) in a single bed at closer spacings

  • growing quick crops of lettuce and spinach in the corn, squash and pumpkin areas before those heat-loving plants are in place

For a higher-tech but easy-to-use garden planner, visit plangarden.com/app/vegetable_value/. Here you can enter the size of your garden, select the vegetables you want to grow in that garden and the area you want to devote to each vegetable, find out how much that area will yield, and even calculate the market value of that yield–at the farmers market, at the grocery store and for organically grown produce. This is fun and easy and will quickly make you value even a small vegetable garden — which you probably already did.

Table 1: Recommended spacing and yield (pounds) per 10-foot row of vegetables; and height (S=short; M=medium; T=tall)

 

10′

10′

10′

1′

beets 10 lbs./10′ row S

carrots 10 S

lettuce 5 lbs. S

1′

onions 10 S

parsley 2.5 M

parsnip 10 M

1′

spinach 7 S

 

 

1′

radish 5 S

rutabaga 10 M

turnip 5 S

2′

bush beans 8 M

 

 

 

2′

broccoli 7.5 M

Brussels sprouts 10 M

cabbage 15 S

 

2′

cauliflower 6 M

celeriac 10 M

celery 20 M

 

2′

chard 20 M

Chinese cabbage 30 M

endive 5 S

 

2′

kale 7.5 M

kohlrabi 5 M

leek 7 M

 

2′

mustard 10 S

okra 7 M-T

pepper 5 M

 

3′

potato 20

 

 

 

 

 

3′

asparagus 10 T

corn 15 T

cucumber 12 M

 

 

3′

eggplant 7.5 M

pole peas 5 T

tomato 20 M

 

 

4′

pole beans 15 T

summer squash 20 M

winter squash 20 M

 

 

 

5′

muskmelon 20 M

pumpkin 25 M

watermelon 20 M

 

 

 

 

 

Table 2: A sample vegetable garden: row spacing, crop, average yield (pounds)/10-foot row

 

 

10′

10′

10′

3′

asparagus 10 lbs.

asparagus 10

pole beans 15

 

 

 

3′

corn 15

pole peas 15

pole peas 15

 

 

 

3′

corn 15

 

 

 

tomatoes 20

tomatoes 20

3′

corn 15

peppers 5

 

summer squash, zucchini 20

 

 

3′

potatoes 20

potatoes 20

potatoes 20

 

 

 

2′

broccoli 7.5

cauliflower 6

kale 7.5

 

2′

cabbage 15

rutabaga 10

chard 20

 

4′

winter squash 20

pumpkin 25

cucumber 12

 

 

 

 

1′

parsley 2.5

parsnip 10

celery 20

1′

leeks 7

onions 10

onions 10

1′

leeks 7

onions 10

onions 10

1′

carrots 10

carrots 10

carrots 10

1′

beets 10

spinach 7

spinach 7

1′

lettuce 5

lettuce 5

lettuce 5

Based in Lincolnville, Jean English may be reached at jeanenglish@mac.com.