It’s decision time for most of us on the Central Coast. We need to plan what and how many vegetable seeds to plant. I’ve simplified my planting over the years. I’m not into preserving like I used to be. Our offspring are grown and gone. I still freeze vegetables, but canning is not how I want to spend my retirement. Then again, I still make applesauce in the fall. Oh yes, and then there’s the berry jam and orange marmalade. Anyway, let’s say, I don’t “put up” like I used to.
It’s important for me to plant just enough vegetables for us to use so that our produce is fresh and I don’t have to beg visitors to “please take some home with you.”
Here’s how it breaks down for a small family of 2-4 members.
- Broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower usually ripen over a 2-3 week period. So 3 plants of each kind should be enough for a good harvest.
- Beets need to be planted about 4 inches apart. I plant them in the fall in a 3’ x 3’ space.
- Carrots can be planted nearly year around along the cooler coast. I plant twice a year in a two 4 foot square areas. I can pull them up as I need them.
- Cucumbers grow better in warmer parts of the county than in our coastal town. Two to three plants will do unless you are planning on canning cucumber pickles.
- Corn also grows well inland. Remember that corn is pollinated by the wind so it’s best planted in short rows so it can pollinate itself. About 20 plants will give you plenty of sweet fresh ears in late summer.
- Beans, green and yellow, need a fence or trellis. Plant 3 seeds at the base of a tepee. Pole beans can produce over a long period of time if you pick daily. Bush beans produce one crop.
- Snow peas can also be planted at the bottom of a three-legged tepee or in an 8 foot row. Three plants on each leg will be enough as snow peas are best eaten fresh.
- In a small garden, you need to plant lettuce and spinach every month for several months to keep a good supply over spring and summer, and yes, winter. Plant 2-3 foot rows of each kind.
- Chard is a real winner in my garden. I plant about 12 plants and keep harvesting off of the sides for 6 months out of the year.
- Peppers of several varieties can be grown in warm regions. Four to six plants is plenty unless you are into drying some for chili.
- Potatoes can be grown in mounds of about 20 plants. You’ll be able to enjoy them over a few months time.
- Tomatoes are a big challenge for those of us close to the ocean. Four to six plants will give you enough to have fresh summer tomatoes and some extra to make sauces and freeze.
- Summer squash and zucchini will give you vegetables if all else fails! Two plants of three varieties (six in all) will give you enough for a small family and enough to give away.
It’s easy to plant more vegetables than you need, so be careful. You’ll find out through trial and error what works best for your family. I’m going out right now and get to work!