Garden Vegetables

Grow What You’ll Use – Temper with What you Can Handle

If you’re new at gardening you might have to experience the cycle (especially the harvest) before you can determine accurately how much you should be planting.

Here are 8 things you will need to consider before determining what and how much to plant. (And I am assuming that you are trying to garden in a way that is in tune with nature.)

1. Your seed cost.  Usually minimal for the home gardener.

2. How much space do the plants require? Do you have the space?

Plants like watermelon, winter squash, and cukes crawl and can take lots of room.  Peas, beans and greens pretty much stay to the bed they are planted in.

Cucumber plants in the garden take a generous amount of room.

I harvest cucumbers every other day; sometimes everyday.

3. Do you have a space already prepared? (If you are preparing a new bed the time will be greater than if you have established beds like mine that take just a little time to rake out and plant.)

4. If you have to prepare new beds, do you have enough organic material to make organic matter so that your new beds can feed your plants ?

5. Will you have the additional time to check what’s going on with your plants as they grow? For example – if it’s squash — will you have the time to check for squash bugs and hand pick them etc?

I always plant extra squash for backup just in case the squash vine borer (different than the squash bug) kills a few. But I only allow myself so many.  I don’t have the time to check anymore than the few I plant. (And I would hate to think of what would happen if I left the squash bug unchecked.)

Yellow squash in the garden. Allow time to check for squash bugs.

For a couple of years when we were extremely busy with projects for the business, I didn’t plant squash for this very reason.

6.  How much time will be needed to harvest? Some things take more time than others to harvest. The time needed to harvest should be a big consideration in determining what to plant. And if you have not done most of your garden maintenance and planning before the season as I do, you’ll have all that to do as well.

For example: Even though I stagger the plantings, 4  rows of peas take me about 1 hour or more to harvest when they are at their peak. Also  strawberries come in about that time.  I am seldom able to spend more than 2 hours a day in the garden. So I am unable to plant more peas because I don’t have the time to harvest.

Shelling peas can take as much time as the harvesting.

Strawberries should be harvested daily.

(Remember you want your garden to be a joy.)

If you don’t harvest regularly your plants will not produce as much.  Is that a problem? Will fruit left on the vine to rot be a problem?

Part of my daily harvest.

A few potatoes harvested for the next few days of meals.

Important Tip: If you’re a regular reader you already know I suggest allowing 5 to 10 minutes each day for weeding in addition to your other tasks.  You can do this before, after and during the time you’re harvesting. This saves you tons of time in the long run and is much easier than making weeding a big job.

7. Consider these points when considering quantity:

  • How much of your produce and fruit do you plan to eat fresh?
  • How much do you need for winter?
  • How much do you have the time to preserve?
  • Do you use what you preserve? If you don’t – its a waste of your time and your organic matter to grow the extra.

I grow lots of tomatoes. I use everything I grow.

8. If you add more garden beds and/or more borders, how much extra time will it take you to maintain them?

Most people do not have an unlimited amount of time to spend outside in the garden.

Follow me to No Hassle – Great Rewards Gardening

People tell me,  “I never see you in your yard (garden etc.) When do you do all that? It has to be a lot of work!” Most find it hard to believe that I don’t spend a lot of time outside.

But I’ve spent 33 years finding easy ways to do things that take as little time as possible, but give me great results. As one of my readers put it, “I like your way of gardening! Not much hassle but great rewards.”

My way of gardening is just about as close to no work gardening as you can come.  But — everything requires some effort.

Bottom Line

One of the best things you can do for yourself  is to start small. Go ahead and grow what you’ll use, but temper it with what you can handle. Work into more as you find you can handle more.

It’s your choice and your garden. I know you’ll make it a joy!


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  • Thanks for some great tips, as usual. I am trying hard to plan this all out. I have drawn a diagram of my garden on drafting paper, to scale. This is going to really help. I am making notes as to what I will plant and where (and in what order) This is going to be a fun year.

  • Sounds like you’re doing great Beppy! Just remember to keep it simple and don’t get complicated. And then indeed it will be a FUN YEAR!

    I’m looking forward to hearing about how your garden is doing every step of the way. 8)


  • I have two strawberry pyramids. Enough plants for one but was hoping to get some bare root plants for the other. My regular supplier won’t be getting any and as they are so much cheaper (I need about 60) I’d hate to have to buy potted ones. Do you know who might have them? I am in Madison Va. so It should probably be some one who would ship to me.

    I got out and dug in the ground today, Theresa, it felt so good 🙂

  • Hi Dink,

    Glad you got out today. This weather is a real treat!

    Check this link for strawberries :
    Earliglow Junebearing Strawberries

    They have lots of choices in the menu to the left. I picked the earliglow because I think its the sweetest, but my main crop is Honeoye.

    25 plants for $9.99.

    I think they still have stock left. Let me know if they don’t.



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