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The Food Garden- Maximum Yield

Updated on July 5, 2019
Bob Ewing profile image

Bob is a backyard gardener and permaculture designer. he has been growing his own for over 20 years.

Growing for Yield

People garden for many reasons; some because they enjoy being busy and being outside. Some garden to grow prize winning roses; some to grow tomatoes; other seeks herbs and some garden to enhance the value of their property.

There are many reasons to spend your time gardening. However, if the main reason that you grow or want to grow plants is to feed yourself and your family, then this hub is written to help you do that.

When you garden for pleasure or to have a few tomatoes and some basil, for example, yield is important but not vital.

When you grow for food production whether it be for personal or market use yield is crucial.

If you are growing your own food or are thinking about growing your own food then the amount of food that you are able to grow is important.

Permaculture design will assist you to create a home garden that will maximize yoru yield.

Permaculture is a design system that is used to create sustainable human habitats.

Permaculture designers use a zone system to determine what goes where. The zones serve as guidelines which help plan where things will be placed in a landscape. The zone system allows for efficient use of time and energy and this helps increase the return on yoru gardening investment.

What belongs in what zone is determined by the frequency with which you need to visit that zone; how many times per week do you need to pay attention to what occupies a zone?

You place the items that you use the most such as herbs and salad green as near to the house as you can and the area that you have set aside for the native wildlife and to observe nature in action as far away as you can.

First harvest.
First harvest. | Source

The Zones- 0 to 5

The zones have been modified to fit an urban backyard; for the most part the standard backyard will have only Zone 0, 1 and maybe 2. Zones 3-5 are for larger commercial operations but are included here for those who operate or are thinking about the larger scale.

ZONE 0: This is your home, your food concerns here may be a kitchen herb garden so that your favourites are nearby. You, if you have the space, say a basement want to set up a hydroponic system and grow cherry tomatoes and salad greens indoors all year round.

ZONE 1: This is where you grow the foods that you use on a daily basis and plants that demand the most of your time, herbs, salad greens and your vegetable garden. Your compost pile will also be in Zone 1 along with rain barrels and any other water catchment systems you may have. Zone 1 is also a good place for the henhouse if you live in an area where this is allowed. Do check first.

ZONE 2: is your orchard or food forest. If you have a small yard then 2 or 3 dwarf fruit trees will suffice.

ZONE 3: this is the commercial farm zone where you would grow green manure, low maintenance trees, large systems, big sheds, woodlot, and windbreak and place your aquaculture project.

ZONE 4: This is where you get your fire wood and harvest wild plants and mushrooms, for example.

ZONE 5: This is the wild place that you do not mange but rather use it as a classroom a place to observe, interact and learn.

As I have said for the average urban or suburban backyard Zones 0-1 will be the only areas that are relevant to you but if your follow the basic and mostly common sense rule of planting that which you use the most nearest to your backdoor then you will be using the space wisely.


courtesy flickr/leighblackall
courtesy flickr/leighblackall

Questions to Ask Youself

When you first site out to grow your own food, be sure to do a site analysis first. You will need to determine the following:

1- How much space can I use for growing food?

2- What other activities will be taking place nearby?

3- How much sunlight does this space get each day?

4- What is occupying this space now?

5- What trees, flowers, other plants are growing there now?

6- What does my family like to eat?

7- How much time do I have to garden?

The answers to these questions will get you started. Be sure to write them down before you begin to draw your garden plan. A plan is a guide that is meant to get you going and keep you going, not written in stone, or an art project.


Submit a Comment
  • Bob Ewing profile imageAUTHOR

    Bob Ewing 

    9 years ago from New Brunswick

    Thanks for dropping by.

  • profile image

    Family Gardener 

    9 years ago

    Good Article,

    But I would have liked more info. It seems the writer probably has the info. I felt the article could have kept going. Nonetheless it is a good start...

  • Bob Ewing profile imageAUTHOR

    Bob Ewing 

    11 years ago from New Brunswick

    The answer to that is a hub by itself, stay tuned.

  • profile image


    11 years ago

    How can yield be measured in an urban vegetable gardend focussed on growing food for eating?

    Actual yield in vegetables from a 10,000 sf garden (allowing for paths, compost spot, enclosure, and othere garden needs in an urban NE setting? Assume a diverse constituency


  • Bob Ewing profile imageAUTHOR

    Bob Ewing 

    11 years ago from New Brunswick

    Thanks ZB, gardens are indeed worth the time and effort.

  • Zsuzsy Bee profile image

    Zsuzsy Bee 

    11 years ago from Ontario/Canada

    Great hub as always! I'm almost ready with my new garden. It's quite a chore digging but it will be worth it.

    regards Zsuzsy

  • Bob Ewing profile imageAUTHOR

    Bob Ewing 

    11 years ago from New Brunswick

    Marisue, thanks and happy gardening, and thanks everyone for their comments.

  • Andy Xie profile image

    Andy Xie 

    11 years ago from Toronto, Ontario, Canada

    Thanks Bob! Knowing the zones really helped me out. I always get confused buying the plants or seeds and this cleared it up for me. Excellent hub.

  • Trsmd profile image


    11 years ago from India

    very good informative Hub

  • marisuewrites profile image


    11 years ago from USA

    This is it!! Bob, This is what I wanted....thanks so much for this HUB. I'm making gardening plans...

    Thi is very experienced advice and well thought out!!! Thanks again, Marisue

  • donnaleemason profile image


    11 years ago from North Dakota, USA

    I put my tomatoes in a pot this year thanks to your previous hub. I put potting mix in there with miracle grow so I am hoping that they will do okay. Excellent advice, wish I could give it more than one thumbs up.

  • Bob Ewing profile imageAUTHOR

    Bob Ewing 

    11 years ago from New Brunswick

    thnaks for the comment and the thumbs up.

  • profile image


    11 years ago

    Space is certainly a problem in cities.I would like to have a kitchen garden but for want of space I have some ornamental plants on the terrace...and a shelf garden with a few herbs.Thanks again for the great info Bob.Thumbs UP!


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