How Big Should The Vegetable Garden Be?

For all those interested in self sufficiency the size of the Veg Garden is an important question. Many people looking to grow their own Veg are unsure of how much space it requires to become independent of any Suppliers for their Vegetables. Here you can learn how much Veg to grow to feed a Family of three or four easily.

To begin with there is one very important factor if you want to become Self Sufficient in Vegetables.

You Must Eat Seasonal Vegetables

onion-bedIf you wish to become your own Supplier of Vegetables throughout the year you will be eating seasonally. Of course, you will be preserving, bottling, canning and storing many Vegetables but the reality is you will not eat the same Vegetables every week like you do if you go to the Supermarket. There you will get the same Veg day in, day out, all year round. Where is the fun in that? See the preserving Fruit and Vegetables category for more Recipes than you can shake a stick at!

Seasonal Eating Of Vegetables

The Realities of Growing Your Own Veg To Feed Your Family

dec-harvestHaving a Vegetable Garden that will supply your Family with vegetables all year around is a real possibility by you MUST follow the Seasons. For us it has become second nature. When there is a glut of Cabbages, Mrs. Dirty Boots get busy delving in to the Cook Books for new and interesting Recipes. There are quite a few, I can tell you. Feeding a Family with minimal space can easily be done, just eat seasonally.

Likewise, when Summer hits, Tomato Recipes become the order of the day. This following of the Seasons, for us, has become a real eye opener. No more repetition of buying the same veg each week, which results in eating the same Recipes every week. Now we have varied Meals throughout the year, depending on what is available. It is much more interesting and challenging and we eat much more varied Meals.

On to the Veg Garden.

How Big A Vegetable Garden To Feed A Family?

How Much Space To Grow Veg And Not Buy Any?

Here at Casa Dirty Boots there are the two of us to feed, our Dogs, and the Chickens. We always have a lot of surplus which the Chickens have. If you haven’t got Chickens see the post on how to build a Chicken Coop and Chicken nesting Boxes and get busy!

Before I go in to specifics, you will do well to print off, or bookmark, the four year Crop Rotation system that Mrs. Dirty Boots posted. If you have limited space this is of  PRIME IMPORTANCE if you wish to make the most of the Vegetable Plot.

Any reasonably sized back Garden/yard, can feed a Family of four or so in Vegetables. You will however need to make the most of the Veg Plot.

Making The Most Of The Vegetable Plot

How To Get Maximum Yield In Minimum Space

If you want a maximum yield of Vegetables in a small or limited space there are a few things that become very important. The art of Double Digging the Veg Plot should be mastered. The deeper you turn the soil, the further down your Veg will grow, rather than taking up more surface area. It also allows for very close planting. Twice as close as conventional Vegetable Growing methods.

You will also want extremely good Soil. Check out the Compost Bin Plans post for basically free Compost Bins, then the  what you can Compost post.  This will ensure a great, rich and fertile Soil for your Veg.

How Much Room To Grow Veg?

The Size Needed To Grow Your Own Vegetables

I just went out in to our Vegetable Garden to see how much space we use to keep us in Veg for basically the whole year.


We use the Double Digging technique and now, after four years, have enriched our soil quite a lot. It has taken us four years to dig all of our Veg Plots and we will gradually add more. We have sufficient to keep us in most Vegetables  but want to add more Soft Fruit and a few other things.

We have six 2 metre by 5 metre Plots and  another two 1 metre by 4 or 5 metre plots that are for Strawberries and a few soft fruit and flower beds.

I think that sixty square metres in total would be very close to being able to support a Family of four in all of the basic Vegetables all year around. This is not to say you will be growing many unusual or non staple vegetables, but it should be more than adequate for the basics.

Some of our Veg Beds are used for Melons etc and we also grow an awful lot of Onions and Garlic. About two hundred of each. Some basics such as these take up space but are a staple for most dishes so we grow them every year.

You need to decide what you want to grow to make the most of the Vegetable Plot and plan accordingly. Crop Rotation is very important so it needs some planning in a limited space. Decide how basic or adventurous you want to be in your Vegetable Growing and take it from there.

Sixty square metres will give you all the basics for a lot of the year. You may have to sacrifice some things, like a year round supply of Potatoes, and have to be careful about growing things such as Melons and Cucumbers that take up a lot of room but I think you will be well on your way to becoming Self Sufficient for your Vegetable Needs.

Grow Vegetables Vertically

Vegetable Growing In Small Spaces

Don’t forget about the endless space in the Sky!

When asking how much space to grow Vegetables many of us forget about the limitless space all around us. Think in three dimensions.

If you have limited space for growing Vegetables then Canes, trellises, hanging baskets etc are your best friends.

Using some LED garden lights may well be worth considering as well. They are ideal for those dark nights that come around all to soon. Or great so you can go and stare at your lovely tomatoes on a dark balmy evening.

When we had a small back Garden we successfully kept ourselves in Tomatoes all Summer by using hanging Baskets. Four or five baskets filled with a dwarf, hanging variety of Cherry Tomatoes was sufficient for two people, with plenty of excess.

Use your imagination. Put trellises against walls and grow cucumbers up them. String wires in the air and train Cucumbers, beans etc along them. A few Tomato Plants tied on to over two metre canes will give AN AWFUL LOT of fruit. Tomatoes will grow very tall if you let them.

Don’t just look at the ground, think UP if you have limited space.

So, good luck with becoming Self Sufficient in your Vegetable growing.

Are you already supplying all your own Veg?

Do you not think it is possible in the space I believe is needed?

I would love to hear what you think.

For a more self sufficient future

16 Responses to “How Big Should The Vegetable Garden Be?”

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  1. Jason Ball says:

    interesting post – just starting down the path of trying to grow most of my families veg needs. You may find this site interesting – especially the 40 square metre veg plot:

    one key point may be to use heritage varieties. Better suited to the home garden.


  2. Susan says:

    Can you give more tips on how to follow the seasons in a garden? For instance, this will be my second year gardening, but I was only going to start planting around the end of May, is there a better science to it? And different times to plant different veggies? Thanks for the inisght!

    • Oh gosh Susan! Now I’ll have to get on with writing! Generally planting gets going once there is no chance of frost, or up to a month sooner if you can offer seedlings some protection. That is very general though. I shall get busy soon 🙂

  3. Jason, it is certainly doable in a fairly limited space. Heritage varieties may be very well suited to the home grower. Very good point.

    Susan, I think Mrs. Dirty Boots is going to do a post soon all about that. I will get her to comment here and see when she will do it. A good question to ask.

  4. JoHart says:

    Would like to delete my previous – somehow my Edublogs link is using @ not . so it sends to their main site

    Love reading your posts! Makes me get all excited about where (I hope!!!) we will eventually be.

    Not yet supplying all of our own – partly due to getting head around difference in seasons here in Western Australia as compared with UK! We do have huge space available – and very easily worked but very nutrient (especially P) and organic poor soil. We are working on it! Still use inorganics esp superphosphate and lime – no lime = severe blossom end rot. We have two annual veg areas with an “orchard and herb garden” bit between and another area where we grow things in tyres. Total area about 400-500 sq m. all fenced and bird netted to keep out kangaroos, rabbits, parrots and other fruit eating birds, as well as predatory wedge tailed eagles and foxes. The ducks and chickens have access to the fallow and orchard areas (except soft fruit – grapes, raspberries etc). We leave weeds/grass to grow on fallow area – chickens ducks range in there and then we turn in (cheat and use small plough/harrow pulled by quad bike). Our other main problem is need to irrigate all summer crops (virtually no rain sept/Oct to March/April) – we have a bore and this just about keeps pace – thankfully drippers now available (we had to use wasteful sprayers at first but are slowly changing over).

    Love it and would now never live anywhere else – we have bush and trees, kangaroos outside our window as well as gorgeous home grown food. Sorry – love this place so much I get carried away.

    Thanks again for yummy and growy posts

    JoHart’s last blog post..School of the future?

  5. Susan says:

    YEA! Thanks so much! You guys always have some useful tips, so I’m looking forward to seeing the post.

  6. Hi,

    Wonderful article. I’ve heard a lot said about raised beds, where instead of rotating, you just continually pile on compost. Have you had any experience whith this kind of arrangement?


    P.S. have taken your tomato advice.

  7. Sergio, afraid not. I think you would still need to rotate as their will still be a build up in the Soil. The “no Dig” method is a very goos option though, if you can get your hands on enough good Compost.

  8. Shane says:

    Hi, I just bought my house at the beginning of the year, and now I want to plant a vegetable garden. My lot is small though, with lots of trees. However, I think I found a spot on the opposite side of my house that gets a fair amount of sunlight and could make a nice garden if cleared and plowed.

    The only problem I fear is that once all the trees leaves come in, my whole lot will be too shady. I’m not sure what it will look like yet since I just moved here. However, I really want to give this a shot as my ultimate goal is to become self sufficient. And although I don’t have the big lot yet to manage goats, fruit trees, and large gardens, it will be good to start with what I have now and appreciate the resources I do have available to me. I do think it is quite possible to have a chicken coupe in my backyard though!

  9. Phyllis says:

    Just found your blog recently and am enjoying reading it.

    I am in zone 5a in cold Canada. I start planting in April under grow lights and continue on into the late fall under row covers and in cold frames. Of course once the weather warms up I move all outdoors as the season progresses. I grow all I we are able to in raised Square Foot boxes (Mel Bartholomew Square Foot Gardening method) and with in ground plots. We grow organically and we add compost regularly.

    I grow so we are able to sustain ourselves throughout the growing season with veggies and on into the fall and winter. The size of the garden enables us to dehydrate, preserve, freeze and pressure can veggies to see us through the rest of the year. It’s taken us about 3 years in this house to have a plan which supplies us through the non-growing season with our own veggies.

    This year for an example we will be saving tomatoes as salsa, sauce, juice, soup, paste, ketchup, quartered pieces and, dehydrated slices. It’s a lot of work but, well worth it to be eating year round from our garden. (Did I say there is just the two of us and we planted 70 different varieties of tomatoes?) The rest of our veggies will be preserved in one form or another.

    Happy Gardening.

    • Phyllis – very impressive, and so satisfying. You’re obviously very dedicated to being self sufficient in veggies! Can’t believe how many tomato varieties you have on the go – we only have 2 this year. The dry heat has led us to lose a lot of different varieties over the years, so I have decided to grow the 2 mainstays that everyone grows in our region – it makes for more good quality plants and good eating; if a little less excitement in choosing which tomatoes to eat each day!

  10. Amara says:

    I found this blog recently and am loving it!
    I want to start making the most of the 2 acres that my family sits on (it’s currently just sheep and chickens) but I have to organize time spent gardening with work, as I’m still at school.

    Can you tell me roughly how much time you spend tending your 60 square metres?

    I realise it will be different at different parts of the year, but roughly how much time is needed when the veges are just sitting there growing between seeding and harvest?

    Thank you!

    • Amara, it is always very different depending not just on what needs doing, but how much time we have to do it! I guess a minimum 30 mins a day through the warmer months when daily watering is needed plus a few hours at the weekend for weeding, tidying etc. But if you want a pristine vegetable patch and live somewhere with any amount of rain you’ll be doing a lot more weeding than us!

  11. JohnFLob says:

    For those of you that are at the beginning or early stages of your gardening experience(s) I recently read an article about a technique termed lasagna gardening. It is reported to minimize both laborand weeds.

    Basically it involves marking out you bed’s perimeter. The bed is then built up in layers, as is a lasagna, to create your bed. This technique is describe as minimizing both labor and weeds. I have not tried this technique yet since I had already planted or prepared all my beds for this year. I did try it on a small experimental area with promising results. I have pasted the link to a GOOGLE search for lasagna gardening.

  12. Pete says:

    Hi, I’m from the UK and thinking of moving to Bulgaria to live a somewhat more ‘self sufficient’ and relaxed lifestyle.

    Do you not eat a lot of vegetables or something though, since I don’t see how its possible to grow all your veg on 60sqm of space. I mean potatoes alone for a years supply take up one of my allotments here.

    And in the famous book “Possum living”, they had 1600sqm to provide vegetables for 2 people.

  13. Kim Brunnworth says:

    How many acres of gardening do I need to feed 30 people self-sustainable through the year. I am the co-founder and director from the red white and blue tour for housing homeless veterans in St Louis. We are creating a farm to house homeless veterans and get them back out into the world and on their own.