How Many Vegetables To Plant Per Person For A Year

A hand presses down soil next to a trowel and several tomato seedlings in pots
(Image credit: Julia Klueva)

While confronting a wasteful world, one of the small things we can do is not waste seed. Overplanting can also produce more than we can eat and squander valuable resources like land and water. Figuring out how many vegetable plants per person you need may seem like a trivial idea, but reducing our consumption of resources can add up to a benefit over time. Naturally, it’s always good to have an extra plant to guard against disease, pests, or poor performance, but it’s also good to draw the line at excess.

Planning A Vegetable Garden

Vegetable garden planning is the key to the successful harvest of enough food for ourselves and our families. Part of that planning is figuring out how many pounds of vegetables per person per year is needed to keep the larders full. Some plants, such as lettuce, are cut and come again, while others will need to be reseeded for a constant crop.

Noting harvest dates and planting times will help you to avoid overplanting. It will inform you about how much seed is necessary for full bellies, and how much is enough produce to preserve without excess waste.

Figuring Out How Many Tomato Plants Per Person

Plants that grow from seed are a bit easier to gauge than those that come from roots or tubers. The gardener can essentially assume 1 plant will grow from each seed. This is easy math when talking about something like radishes which will produce one root per plant, but more challenging with plants that produce many fruits like tomatoes or peppers.

There is no way to divine how many fruits will come from the plant, but experienced gardeners will usually have a rough estimate. Cultivation practices and factors such as weather, insects, disease, and soil condition will affect the amounts of food coming off each plant. So will the variety of seed – it takes more cherry tomatoes to satisfy each person than it does a large slicing tomato.

How Many Asparagus Plants Per Person

This is where things get a bit more tricky. Asparagus roots will produce many spears over the years, but tend to produce fewer stems as they get older. The first year the roots are planted, a gardener can expect little to no stems for harvest.

The size at which the spears are harvested will also affect how many roots are needed per person. The amount needed can be figured by number of rows per person, or number of roots. On average 30-50 roots is sufficient per person, or 10-20 feet (3-6 m.) of row per person with a spacing of 6 feet (2 m.) apart.

Some perennial vegetable plants like sunchokes will produce more food year after year.

How Much Seed to Plant Per Person?

The exact amounts of annual seed to plant will depend upon whether you want to preserve a portion of your harvest, or just want a consistent supply of the food during the growing season. Assuming growth occurs normally and no pestilence occurs, the average number of seed to plant per person at a minimum would be:

  • Arugula- 5
  • Bean (Dried)-4
  • Bean (Snap) - 4
  • Beet-5
  • Broccoli -3
  • Brussels Sprouts- 1
  • Cabbage- 4
  • Carrot- 30
  • Cauliflower- 1
  • Celery- 5
  • Corn- 12
  • Cucumber- 6
  • Garlic- 12
  • Lettuce- 6
  • Melon-2
  • Pea- 30
  • Pepper-2
  • Radish- 15
  • Spinach-15
  • Summer Squash- 1
  • Winter Squash- 1
  • Cherry Tomato- 3
  • Slicing Tomato- 1
  • Turnip- 5
Bonnie L. Grant

Bonnie Grant is a professional landscaper with a Certification in Urban Gardening. She has been gardening and writing for 15 years. A former professional chef, she has a passion for edible landscaping.