Planting a garden with food storage in mind is a good idea! I mean, it’s nice to eat out of your garden all summer and fall. But it’s even better to eat food grown in your garden through the winter and into spring! In this post, I’ll share with you how to plant a pantry garden that can feed you call year-round!
You have to approach planning a pantry garden backward. If you just plant your garden all willy nilly and then figure out how to use the ingredients afterward then you won’t end up with enough to get you through.
How To Plant A Pantry Garden
The first step is to look at the kinds of meals and snacks you and your family eat. Then take those meals and break them down into ingredient lists. I like to do this by listing each individual food item and then adding a tally beside each food so that I know how often an ingredient gets used. This will give you an idea of how popular a particular item is.
When doing your ingredient list make sure you break down each individual ingredient. You can’t list pasta sauce as an ingredient because pasta sauce has its own list of ingredients. If you plan to make your own pasta sauce to store over the winter then you’ll need to list the ingredients of the pasta sauce individually.
Once you have your ingredients list for the meals and snacks you eat, then figure out how many times per month you would eat those meals and multiply by 12.
Things to consider when doing your lists are:
- holiday meals
- new family members arriving
- children growing
If you have an existing garden space and cannot expand then you will want to look at your list from above and decide which items are a priority for you to plant. When considering this also consider what items are readily available nearby and plant things that are harder for you to get locally.
Having limited garden space means that you have to choose crops wisely to maximize your growing season. You don’t want to tie up your garden space all season growing a longer season crop like butternut squash because you’ll only end up with a few things. Planting a shorter growing crop and then planting a longer growing crop right after it will help to maximize your garden space. For instance, you could plant some quick-growing spring salad greens and then plant cabbage afterward.
If you have a somewhat unlimited amount of garden space and you’re wanting to provide everything you can for yourself from your list, then you can begin on the next step.
Number Of Plants
Once you’ve looked at your list and your garden space, then you’ll want to decide how many plants you need to grow in order to supply your needs. This can be somewhat variable so I always like to plan more than I think I’ll need. Any extra can be donated or given to neighbours. It’s also a good idea to plan for some amount of losses. Not all growing seasons are equal and you’ll want to add a little extra in case this one is unkind.
For example, if you plan to make your own pasta sauce you’ll want to plant enough tomato plants to provide enough tomatoes to make sauce with. When choosing what variety of tomatoes to plant keep in mind what you’ll be using them for. Some varieties are better suited for sauce and some for snacking.
I should touch on this a bit. We all have different amounts of time that we can put into growing and maintaining our gardens. If you don’t have a lot of time to maintain your garden then growing only longer growing foods might work well for you since they don’t require as much time to maintain! Having a whole pantry full of winter squash, potatoes, and cabbages will go a long way to get you through the winter – no canning skills required!
Pantry Garden Planning
Planning out where everything will be planted in your garden space is the next step. You’ll want to look at your list of priority plants and take into account your garden space. Look at your seed packets and see how far spaced out each plant needs to be as well. Then you can plot on paper where everything will go.
Consider what sorts of foods keep well for long periods of time. You can’t plant enough lettuce for a whole year because it won’t keep fresh through storage. Eating seasonally is a good idea! Planning to plant lots of lettuce to eat in the summer and lots of winter squash, potatoes, and cabbage to eat in the winter is a good plan!
There you have it! Working backward you can figure out how to plant a pantry garden to supply your family with food from your own garden all year long!
If you’d like to check out some of my favourite gardening books check out this post!