I love this group! I have a few questions. I'd like to feed a family of 4 and have some vegetables for canning/freezing in the off season. How many plants of each variety should I plant? Secondly, I know plants need fertilizer, but I'd like to use as natural and cost effective a method as possible. Does anyone have any "recipes"? Thanks so much.
Hardiness Zone: 9a
By TX from Conroe
It would be impossible for me to guess how much of each vegetable for you to plant because I have no idea how your family eats. One eggplant would be waaaay too much for us but we can easily use 12 tomato plants since I make lots of spaghetti sauce, chili, soup, and we eat gobs of them fresh. Always remember if you plant more than you can use there is sure to be a family (or older couple) near you who would love to use your excess.
I don't fertilize bacause we have cows and 'nough said about that!
The first thing you need to ask is what kinds of vegetables your family likes. What do you eat the most of? There's no point in having mountains of broccoli if no one eats it! Another thing to ask is how long the vegetables will take to mature. Carrots and lettuce for example come in quite quickly, while things like peppers have a long growing season. You can check online for expected yields for various plants. Some varieties too have better yields than others so it's worth it to do some homework before you go seed shopping.
A good trick to get the most out of your garden is to plant quick-growing crops in between ones that take longer to mature. You can often get a couple of harvests in before the main crop matures. By avoiding big patches of a single crop you can also confuse pests and help improve the soil. Look up companion planting for some ideas.
A compost heap is the best for natural fertilizer (and also cutting down on waste) but it's a long-term project. There's a lot of options available for fertilizers; I'd look up organic methods and see which ones seem most practical to you. I just try to avoid chemical ones. Good luck!
Ditto what Tapestry Lady said. You can buy organic compost until you make your own. I might start with raised beds---go to You Bet Your Garden.com for great information. Also, Organic Gardening Magazine. As for what to grow--zucchini is famously prolific. You can make canned zucchini pickles and freeze zucchini bread.
Contact me and I'll send you a picture and info on how I made my raised bed garden. Good luck. (kffrmw88 AT graceba.net)
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