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How much should I plant?

How many of each of these seeds to plant? It depends on your family's tastes, and how much time and space you have. Also, the pepper seeds really should have been planted awhile ago; they're notoriously slow to germinate, so try to find transplants now. (Photo: Kathy Morrison)

Some guidelines for estimating a garden you'll eat

What to plant? That question is on the mind of every vegetable gardener right now.

Think before you buy seed – or dig. You’ll thank yourself later.

The UC Master Gardeners of Sacramento County have this advice:

“It is tempting to try growing a large variety of vegetables. A better approach might be to consider what you and your family like to eat.”

Poll your family members. Will they really eat a whole row of daikon radishes? What about okra? Or beets?

“Then consider the space that you have available,” add the master gardeners. “Plant only as large a garden as you can easily maintain, as there is a time commitment (thinning, weed and pest control, irrigation, fertilization). A smaller, properly tended garden will be more productive and satisfying than a larger garden receiving minimal attention.”

Right now, it seems like you may have all the gardening time in the world. But will that be true when life returns to relative normal?

Also consider how much your family will actually eat when those veggies are ready for harvest. Some crops – such as tomatoes – can be readily preserved. But lettuce? Those heads need to be eaten fresh, not frozen.

Garden Gate Magazine came up with a vegetable calculator with estimates per person and for a family of four. Find it here:

Some estimates seem pretty high (such as 24 lettuce plants per person), but that consumption depends on the size of the heads at harvest – and how much you like salad. Also, that lettuce harvest may be spaced year-round, not just one season.

For summer favorites, here are estimates of how much to plant this month for two people:

Beans (bush) – 30 plants

Beans (runner) – 20 plants

Corn – 24 plants

Cucumbers – Two vines or bushes

Eggplant – Three plants

Melon – Two plants

Onions – 40 sets

Peppers – Six plants (mixed varieties)

Squash – Two plants

Tomatoes – Four plants

Zucchini – Two plants


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of Feb. 18:

It's wet to start the week. When you do get outside, between or after storms, concentrate on damage control:

* Keep storm drains and gutters clear of debris.

* Clean up tree debris knocked down by wind and rain.

* Where did the water flow in your garden? Make notes where revisions are necessary.

* Are any trees leaning? See disturbances in the ground or lawn around their base? Time to call an arborist before the tree topples.

* Dump excess water out of pots.

* Indoors, start peppers, tomatoes and eggplant from seed.

* Lettuce and other greens also can be started indoors from seed.

* Got bare-root plants? Put their roots in a bucket of water until outdoor soil dries out. Or pot them up in 1- or 5-gallon containers. In April, transplant the plant, rootball and all, into the garden.

* Browse garden websites and catalogs. It’s not too late to order for spring and summer.

* Show your indoor plants some love. Dust leaves and mist to refresh.

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