How Many Pepper Plants Do I Need to Feed My Family?

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Knowing how many of a certain vegetable plant can mean having enough produce later, but how should I plan this out.

I was told by a client that they had bought one of those hanging baskets, where you grow a tomato plant upside down. This made a great deal of sense in their small space of the time, and they awaited a bountiful harvest, which never came. They have a larger space for a vegetable garden, so they were paying more attention to different plant varieties. Since I had about six eggplants, they wondered if they should have more than their one. I said that if you wanted to make sure that you had eggplant for a meal, then I would plant more than one; however, that one plant might produce all you need, depending on how much eggplant that you eat.

    I remember that a friend of mine only has one pepper plant, yet it gives him more than enough produce. The plant is in a container on wheels, and this thick bush is about five feet high. Every winter he rolls the plant into the home. Once the weather is good for the plant he rolls it out onto the porch. He keeps a bird netting over it, so birds do not steal his prize. His one pepper plant would be enough for my family of five. I planted about ten pepper plants this year. I have several picant peppers and several sweet peppers (a few that I do not know if they are sweet or hot). The real secret with any vegetable is growing it in the right soil, in the right place, and in the right way. If my plants can grow big quickly, I will obtain the amount of produce that I want, which is enough for my immediate family with some for my extended family. I am also planning a cover for my plants during the coming winter. Sometimes pepper plants would come back, and I would be happy, but I wanted to have a better bush for the coming year, so I know that I will have enough produce. More than half of my plants are in a row, where I am already building a frame for the covering that can be attached later.
    I have already made a frame for my tomato plants. I found that one place in the garden last year was good for these plants, so this year I have seven plants. With a family of five, and the children loving tomatoes, I think that this may be enough to fulfill my need, while having some extra to give away. I have seen families with two plats do quite well for themselves. I found that last year I had a decent crop with three plants, but there were times that I did not have the vegetable when I needed it. This was due in part to my littlest child deciding to pick green tomatoes. If she had not gone after them, then I am sure the birds would have been my problem, or maybe the squirrels could have been the culprits. I guess that bird netting may be in my future.
    I harvested peas for dinner last night. With this vegetable, you really do not think in terms of how many plants, but rather you think in row length. An eight foot long row gave me enough pods for my soup (eating the peas as though they were like snow peas). I have found that a single file row of ten feet gives me the amount of produce that I need from a certain vegetable for the week. With my chard and collards, I planted them in two five foot lengths, fairly close together. I am not sure that this ten foot rule will hold true for each vegetable variety, but I think that they will be my standard. I am packing the vegetables into a smaller space. The peas are growing in between the chard and other plant. With the deep red leaves of the chard, the peas have made a pretty contrast in color.
      I think that starting out with a vegetable garden can be confusing. We buy a few plants hoping for that bounty. We may get it, if we grow them right.  If you are serious about having enough produce for your family, then you have to grow a few more than a couple of plants. I am trying to balance a few goals: I want enough vegetables for my family to eat fresh every day; I want a garden that keeps producing new plants; and I want a garden that looks like a garden and not like a farm. I mix non-vegetable plants in with my vegetables. Herbs are all over the place, and I lay out the rows in patterns. I am still buying about ten percent of my vegetables from the market. I want that to be zero. I still buy most of my seeds or plants (about seventy percent). I want that to be zero as well. Maybe I am on the right track this year.

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This site came out of my desire to write about my love of gardening, but also to connect it to my knowledge derived from home inspections. That is why I tied it to the home inspection site.If you have questions, you can email them to me (frank at For home inspections, call 713.781.6090.
Happy gardening, Frank


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