The 30% rule: How much should I plant?

Borlotti bean seedlingsRachel asked me how I knew how much of anything to plant. We were talking about how all the published advice we had both seen on the topic was, work out what you eat each week and start from there ie 2 lettuce per week, plant 2 every week.

But neither of us plan our meals with that much detail. I plan mine around what I have available or how I feel at a particular time. I’m a big foodie, I love food and working around these things is just the way I like to do it. Can’t think of anything worse than coming up with weekly meal plans. Screw it, I’m just not that organised, nor want to be.

My rule of thumb for planting amounts was taught to me by my parents and applies to any farming – plan for 30% stock loss.

30% has served me well. Punnet of 6 seedlings, I’m likely to lose a plant or two and/or have them some under-perform – be it by pestilence, disease, weather or forgetting about them (yeah, it does happen). If I plant just one bean seedling, chances are I won’t see anything off it. So, I plant 3 instead.

For seed sowing I add another 30%. I plant 30% more seed then I expect to grow. Some won’t germinate, some will be pricked out and some I will lose by natural attrition.

This isn’t a scientific formula but it has done me well over the years. How do you plan how much to grow in your garden? Do you plan everything in detail? Do you do complex maths equations based on dietary requirements? Let us know in the comments.


  1. My only plan is based on last year – if there was lack of something – I will grow it more, and other way around. Thats it!