Calculate How Many Bean Plants Per Person Realistically

Whether you want to grow a year’s worth of beans, or just for seasonal eating, or precisely 8 months worth, you can calculate how many beans to plant for any yield you want.

10-20 bean plants are the recommended averages per person to plant but are far from what my family realistically needs.

I know this because I’ve calculated it!

I calculated it because I want to know what it would take to be self-sufficient in beans, whether we actually achieve that this year, or not.

To calculate how many bean plants are needed, I considered the average yield per plant, the average frequency beans are eaten, and the average serving size of beans per meal per person.

On average, you’ll need 50-75 plants per person for a 12-month supply of beans to eat 3-7 days a week, and when a single serving equates to a quarter pound of green beans (114g). If you tend to eat beans 3 days a week, opt for 50 plants per person, and if 7 days, opt for 75 plants per person.

You can use this same math on any vegetable. To skip all the time-consuming work, use this Garden Harvest Calculator every year before you draw a garden map.

Doing these calculations will allow you to draw a realistic garden map, based on what you actually want to harvest from your garden.

How many beans for a family of 4?

This same math can be used to calculate bean plants for a family of 4. If you aren’t growing for your needs alone, and want to consider the family, add in one more calculation step.

First, you’ll need to know how many beans are a serving per person.

For example; I eat about 114g of beans per serving, Chris eats about 125g of beans per serving, and a young girl and boy might eat 50g of beans per serving.

114 + 125 + 50 + 50 = 339g

339g / 4 = 85g per person

In this case, you’ll change the average serving size in the calculator from 0.25-pound to 0.19-pound.

You’ll need 228 bean plants to feed a family of four that eats beans 12 months a year, and 6 days a week. Based on the average consumption of different family members, you’ll need 57 plants per person on average.

If this seems like a lot—remember I am doing it for a whole year’s worth! You don’t have to calculate for 12 months. You could do as many or as little as you want.

The fun part is even seeing what it would take to grow a year of food, realistically. Then deciding what you want to actually manage becomes very clear.

After you do this math for yourself, leave a comment on how many bean plants your family needs!

How many bush bean seeds should you plant?

Keep in mind, we have been referring to pole bean plants. If you were planning on growing bush beans, you’ll need to double the numbers. Each bush bean seed grows one short plant and the fruit all come at once.

If you need 57 pole bean plants per person, you’ll need to sow 114 bush bean seeds per person, and vice versa. Bush and pole beans take up the same horizontal space in the garden. If you have limited garden space, you’ll want to grow high-yielding pole beans to make the most of what you have.

Some people might sow zero bush bean seeds because they take up the same space, and yield half the amount as pole beans.

Your climate may also be a factor to consider. Pole beans take longer to yield a higher number of beans.

If you have a very short growing season, like zones 2 or 3, then bush beans may yield the most beans.

Since all beans need to be directly sown, you’re on a timeline as to how long they are able to grow. Pole beans are most suitable for climates with a minimum of 110 days.

Bush beans will produce all their beans within 50-90 days. Pole beans will begin producing from 55-65 days, but will gradually put out beans over the remainder of the season until frost kills the plants. So the longer frost-free days you have, the more you’ll yield per pole bean plant.

How many beans do you get from one plant?

Before we calculated based on serving size, we wanted to know many beans a single plant would produce. Without knowing that, none of this works!

To find out the answer, we grew several types of heirloom beans, both bush and pole beans.

Bean VarietyTypeMaturity DaysAverage Yield
Black TurtleBush950.60 lbs
Red SwanBush550.45 lb
Purple TeepeeBush600.55 lb
Black Coat RunnerPole750.8 lbs
Cherokee Trail of TearsPole651.2 lb
Purple PoddedPole701 lb
The average yield of beans for bush and pole varieties

Bush beans above a 0.5 lb average, and pole beans above a 1 lb average, are high-yielding varieties.

Maturity days for bush beans mean they would have produced the majority or all of their beans. Maturity days for pole beans mean the first round of beans have been produced, and more will keep coming until the frost.

Bush beans produce half the amount of fruit as pole beans.

Since the average pole bean produces 1 pound of beans, you’ll need 57 pole bean plants per person for a year’s worth of green beans. That’s a quarter pound of green beans per serving for 228 meals throughout the year.

Bush beans that take longer to mature seem to produce more beans in the end.

Pole beans that take longer to mature seem to produce fewer beans in the end. Longer maturity dates in pole beans mean they begin producing later, so the time to produce ongoing beans is shorter.

How do you get the maximum yield of beans?

Each bean type offers a different approach to achieving a maximum yield.

Most bush beans tend to produce all their beans in a short frame, all at once, or in two flushes. Pole beans begin producing later but continue to provide new beans until the frost kills the plant.

Plant bush beans in succession every other week to get a continuous fresh harvest. Some bush varieties can provide you with two flushes of beans.

Pole beans should be planted all at once since they are continuous producers. Choose multiple varieties with various maturity dates for a sooner harvest.

Harvest all beans often while young to refocus energy on growing new beans. Planting a mix of pole and bush beans with early and later maturity days will maximize your fresh harvesting window.

You can also select high-yielding bean varieties, plant them in a sunny position, ensure they are watered as needed, prevent weeds, and plant with companions.

Calculating the rest of your garden

The rest of your garden is more or less tricky to calculate.


While Rachelle's hands are clean for the keyboard, she enjoys writing and designing creative content and resources. You will most likely find her outside planting a cabbage, foraging berries for breakfast, and collecting herbs for year-round tea or making food.

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