Vegetable crops play a huge role in human nutrition and health. The population of our planet uses more than 1200 species of vegetables as food. The largest species diversity is represented by 690 plant species consisting of nine families. Naturally, the diversity of vegetable crops is much greater in countries with permanently warm climates than in countries with predominantly cold climates and unacceptable plant-soil conditions.
Number of vegetable varieties grown in some countries
|Country||Number of vegetable crop species|
The importance of plant-based foods, including vegetables, for health needs no proof. Vegetables are a source of vitamins that are not found in other foods and cannot be produced by the body. Vegetables contain carbohydrates, organic acids, enzymes, mineral salts and other substances necessary to maintain and prolong human life.
If we refer to the data of the World Health Organization, then with a normal diet a person should eat 1 pound of vegetables per day, including 70-80% of fresh vegetables. In reality, most people in the US and CIS countries tend to have another approach – “all in a jar and on the table in winter”. The variety of plant products is limited to 10-15, but it is recommended to have at least 40.
The standard annual vegetable consumption per person is 151 pounds, which is the average number of vegetables consumed annually by the U.S. population. 40% of people use two times less vegetable products in their diet than normal, and some even less.
When surveyed, they said they are buying more fresh fruits and vegetables than they did last year, and 73 percent of consumers said they are buying more types of fresh produce than they did 20 years ago. Changing consumer expectations are driving demand and sales of fresh produce, with more consumers saying they prefer to buy goods with the “fair trade” label (59%) and locally or regionally grown produce (55%).
Per capita consumption of fresh vegetables in the United States in 2019, by vegetable type (in pounds)
|fresh vegetable crop||Per capita consumption in pounds|
|Leaf/ Romaine Lettuce||12.33|
|Snap/ Green Beans||1.78|
In recent years, the statistics of vegetable consumption have started to shift in a positive direction. This is driven by many reasons (economic, political, etc.), including the possibility of having small plots of large summer land on which the owner must allocate a vegetable garden wedge.
The immediate problem for the beginning gardener (and not only for the beginner) is how many vegetables should be grown to provide plant products for the family, from harvest to harvest. Probably no calculation is possible.
Therefore, in your garden diary you need to enter the necessary data and perform simple calculations:.
- First, you need to select from the recommended vegetable crops that can grow and form crops in your area (in a greenhouse, undercover, in the open ground).
- From the list of selected crops, choose those characterized by a larger list and a higher content of the main types of useful substances required by the body.
- Among these crops, keep on the list those that require minimum care. Otherwise, the garden will turn into a collection of weeds, and the gardener – in their “slaves”. There are ten to fifteen such crops. They will form the basis of your crop rotation. Another 4-5 crops can be grown outside the garden bed (potatoes, sunflowers, pumpkins, etc.).
The most difficult part of the calculation, although it may seem easy, is calculating the daily menu that includes vegetables. By volume, how much of a day does 1 pound of vegetables make up? Researchers and nutritionists say that if you consume 2,000 calories a day, your menu should include 2.5 cups of vegetables (a very handy metric).
A cup of unbounded leafy greens (chopped and shredded) is about 50 grams (check the quality on a scale) to calculate the amount of vegetables per family per day. Divide this amount by the amount used in fresh form and for the preparation of the first and second courses (soups, roasts, sauces, salads, desserts, etc.). These calculations will help you stick to a daily ration of vegetables in your family’s daily menu.
Of course, the calculations are tentative because each family has its own capacity to consume vegetable products (family budget, taste preferences, region and area of residence, etc.). However, if you have a large estate or home garden, you can provide your family with fresh vegetables in the warm season and in the cold season – frozen, which actually retains all the useful substances unchanged.
DESIGN A SMART VEGETABLE GARDEN
Before heading out to work in the spring and summer fields (preferably in the winter, at night), draw up a crop rotation plan for the garden. Assign seedbeds for compacted vegetable greens (radishes, onions, leafy salad, celery, parsley, etc.). These will constitute a maximum of 2 beds. And they can be sown at multiple times of the year. Enough for fresh consumption, as well as for freezing for cold periods.
Mark the location of the vegetable garden on the garden map (the whole wedge, individual beds in different parts of the garden, vegetable beds, etc.). Calculate the total area under the vegetable garden, including beds and paths, as well as individual beds. The garden beds in the garden wedge can be arranged in 2 ways: as a rectangle or around an irrigation system.
When the beds form a rectangle, they are placed in a well-distributed flat, well-lit area. The optimal width of the bed is about 30-40inch (0.8-1m) and any length for the owner’s convenience. At this size, it is easy to cultivate plants from both sides without having to enter the bed itself. The path between the beds should be at least 20-30inch (60-80cm) or the width of a garden cart, in summary.
Leave a path of at least 40-50inch (1-1.3m) around the vegetable garden to facilitate all shady work, including removing produce, plant waste, and disposing of the beds. Some gardeners do this: work beds are left the same width as the paths between them. In summer, weeds are dumped on the paths. After a few years, the paths accumulate organic matter, and then the paths and beds are changed in 3-4-5 years.
The circular arrangement of beds will reduce “empty” access to distant beds with wheelbarrows, irrigation hoses, etc. The remaining dimensions will be determined by the owner based on the area allocated to the vegetable garden.
Consider and calculate (based on the yield of 1 plant clump or 11 square feet of the dense plot) the number of plants planned for each crop. To do this, determine and write down the approximate yield of the bush in your garden journal when you purchase seeds or an annual vegetable crop catalog.
EXAMPLE OF CALCULATING THE NUMBER OF BELL PEPPER BUSHES NEEDED PER HOUSEHOLD
The yield of sweet peppers depends on the variety, forming 1.3-1.8 Lb (0.6-0.8 kg) of fruit in one bush (you can write it down more precisely by the specific variety in the catalog). In a year, 1 person will eat 13 Lb (6 kg) of bell peppers. A family of 4 people will need 53 Lb (24 kg) of bell peppers. With a yield of 1 bush of 1.8 Lb (0.8 kg), each family would need to grow 30 clumps of bell peppers. Plants are susceptible to the negative effects of diseases and climatic anomalies (frost, hail, summer fog, and low temperatures, etc.).
Our people have to do everything with reservations. Let’s add 30% of the bushes for emergency and winter stocking, which is equivalent to another 10 bushes. Thus, a bed of sweet peppers can make 40 bushes, one variety or in the variety zone (it is better to buy early, medium, and late varieties), about 8-10 bushes per bush.
In a 30inch (80 cm) wide seedbed, peppers can be planted in 2 rows with an average row spacing of 12inch (30 cm) and 4inch (10 cm) spacing at the edges, or choose another convenient option for subsequent plant treatment. The rows between peppers are spaced 10-12inch (25-30 cm) apart and the length of the bed is 16 foot (5 m).
After calculating the area of all crops, you will be amazed at how small the garden can be to feed the family with fresh vegetables throughout the warm season and also to make winter preserves. There will be no need to do extra work and throw rotting vegetables, weeds, and other waste into the compost pile.
Gardeners with lots of practice usually calculate the crop yield per 11 square feet and then recalculate by the number of vegetables needed for the year. When recalculating, be sure to add 5-10% of storage losses and processing waste from the produce.
Yield of vegetable crops 2.2 Lb(KG)/ 11 sq ft.
|Name of culture Productivity||2.2 Lb(KG) / 11 sq ft|
|Peas and beans||0.5-2.5|
|Carrots and beets||4.0-6.0|
|White cabbage early||2.0-4.0|
|White cabbage medium and late||4.0-6.0|
|Onion and garlic||1.5-2.5|
|Cucumbers and squash||2.0-2.5|
|Green (lettuce, spinach, leaf parsley)||1.0-2.0|
|Turnip and radish||1.6-2.5|
|Parsnip, celery root||2.0-4.0|
|Potatoes||2.0-5.0 and more|
Green crops can be combined with compacted crops to form a prefabricated bed. The green bed can be divided into different sectors. The whole 16 foot (5 m) bed is divided into 20-24inch (50-60 cm) sections (sectors).
We get plots that can be planted with 10 crops. Sowing can be done in 8-10-15 days, depending on the culture, or it can also be calculated, using table materials and characteristics of vegetable crops (standing density, yield per bush, yield per 11 square feet, early vegetable crop from the bed for 2 seasons).
Smart planning of vegetable gardens will free up a huge reserve of rest time to provide better and more attentive care for plants (which will increase crop yields). Vacant land can be set aside for sodding (the soil will rest) or for lawns, resting corners, etc.
Note, please write in the comments. How many or other vegetable crops do your family grows on your plot?
More related information about planting & growing vegetables