I have long held dreams of living out of my garden and using the food I grow as my main source of food. Despite my big ambitions every year, I usually fall short due to my tiny gardening space, and the general lack of knowledge out there on how much you need to grow in order to produce enough food.
If dried beans are a major part of your family’s diet, than growing them is a sensible option for your gardening space. But how many do you need to plant?
The answer of course, depends on how much your family likes to eat beans, and how hungry they get. It’s no good saying, “Plant 16 dried bean plants for each member of the family” if you guys make chili cook-offs into a profession. Instead, lets take a look at how much an individual bean plant produces.
This is about how many dried beans you get from a bean plant. It comes to a scant 1/4 cup of beans per plant. If you want to grow enough for yourself for the year, figure out how many cups of beans you typically eat in a year. To give you an idea, most chili recipes using dried beans typically call for 2 cups of beans for enough to feed a family of 4. That’s 8 bean plants right there for one meal. Assuming you need 2 cups of beans for every meal, and eat beans at least once a month, your going to need 192 bean plants to get all your beans from your own plants.
That being said, bean plants can be planted fairly close together, 2-4 inches apart, with 18 inch width between the rows. That means if you have a 10 foot row for beans, you can fit 30-60 beans in a row. Beans can also be container gardened, and you can easily plant several bean plants in a container.
If you only have a little bit of space and know you won’t be able to get all your nutritional needs from your own plants, don’t be too disheartened. Even growing a small amount of your own food will make a dent in your food bill, as well as providing you with healthier food and making a dent in your carbon footprint.