How large should your vegetable garden be?

It’s easy to get carried away when you’re planning a garden. Seed-packet displays filled with images of perfect vegetables and bright flowers are a definite magnet, as are colorful pages of seed catalogs. It’s easy to keep selecting more and more as you imagine creating the perfect garden. Then, when it comes time to plant all those seeds, well, you don’t. I’m embarrassed to admit to the piles of long-expired seed packets that I accumulated before I wised up and learned to buy only what I expect to plant.

Planning your first vegetable garden

If you’re just starting out, or haven’t gardened in awhile, your garden should measure about 10×18 feet with eight to 10 different vegetable varieties. This size will easily feed a family of four to six. This is simply a guideline, however. Adjust your garden spot to fit your particular situation: family size, available space, amount of time you can spend in it, and the amount of work you’re willing to do.

I always grow plenty of tomato plants.

Keep your garden manageable

Keep in mind that a too-large garden can easily overwhelm you and become a discouraging chore, and that’s when you’re more likely to give up on it. Instead, keep it manageable so you don’t have to spend too much time and effort on it. You’ll be amazed at your success — and the good food you put on your table.

Which garden vegetables should you grow?

Simply put, plant the vegetables that your family likes.

If your family eats a lot of salad, then plant lettuce, cucumbers, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, radishes, and, of course, tomatoes.

Think about meals. Do you stir-fry? Grow bell peppers, onions, peas, and broccoli. Does your family enjoy Mexican food? Consider various hot peppers. Do you create main dishes from vegetables? Potatoes, squash, eggplant, and spinach might be options.

       In planning your garden vegetables, consider adding a variety or two that your household considers tolerable, but not great. You may find that homegrown freshness improves the taste, and that vegetable just may turn out to be a family favorite.

       Plant an unfamiliar vegetable, just for kicks. If it’s not to your taste, give the harvest to neighbors or your local food bank.