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How Big of a Greenhouse Do You Need to Feed a Family?

Have you considered what it would take to grow your own food? If you’ve been thinking about making the switch to growing your own produce and live in an area with changing or cooler temperatures, then a greenhouse might be something to consider. But how big of a greenhouse would you need to adequately feed your family?

We recommend a greenhouse that is at least 10×10 feet (3.05 x 3.05 meters) for a family of four. Each member will require a minimum of 20 sq ft in the greenhouse to start. From there, you can use levels of shelving to multiply this number, bringing it to between 80 and 100 sq ft.

In this article, we will discuss the right seize greenhouse you need for your family, depending on the number of family members you have. We’ll also discuss how to figure out the size that is right for your needs. We’ll also look at what fruits and vegetables will get you the greatest nutritional return on your efforts, as well as how many pounds of produce you can expect from your greenhouse grow. Lastly, we will study the cost that one should expect to incur from growing produce in a greenhouse.

Photo of the inside of a green house with various green colored plant varieties to the left and right of a walking path.

How Big of a Greenhouse Do You Need to Feed a Family?

There are a few key points of consideration when determining the greenhouse size that will be necessary to feed your family. Perhaps the single most important determinant to consider is your family’s size or how many members your family consists of.

Always keep in mind that greenhouses come in many different shapes and styles. Some are free-standing, while others run alongside your home. The width of the greenhouse is very important to keep in mind as this will determine how long the benches and shelves you can run inside your greenhouse.

This section will look at what size your greenhouse needs to be to adequately feed a family of two, four, six, and eight.

How Big of a Greenhouse Do You Need to Feed a Family of Two?

Assuming that the growers have some level of competence and proficiency in gardening, a family of two members can satisfy their annual fruit and vegetable needs with a relatively small amount of greenhouse space.

While you may be able to get away with a smaller greenhouse for two people if you can utilize it in such a way to completely maximize your space, it is always advisable to go a little bigger than you feel you may need.

For two people, we recommend starting with a greenhouse of around 6×10 feet (1.83 x 3.05 meters).

This will allow for various planting options and give the grower enough room to set up some intricate shelving and experiment with various layout options.

How Big of a Greenhouse Do You Need to Feed a Family of Four?

The good thing about using a greenhouse is that the size requirements will not necessarily increase linearly with every extra family member you are trying to feed. In other words, just because you are trying to feed four family members instead of two does not mean you will require double the amount of space. The larger the space available in your greenhouse, the more ways to maximize the square footage.

Contrary to a typical garden, which is mostly limited to a flat layout and distribution, a greenhouse can use levels.

For a family of four who is serious about switching over to a greenhouse lifestyle, we recommend a greenhouse of at least 10×10 feet (3.05 x 3.05 meters).

This will allow for a few more rows than the 6×10 feet (1.83 x 3.05 meters), which, when used efficiently, will make all the difference.

How Big of a Greenhouse Do You Need to Feed a Family of Six?

Now that we are getting into the sizing needs required for a family of six, the greenhouse operation begins to get a little bit more largescale.

For a family of six who wants to become self-sufficient, or as close to it as possible, for their fruit and vegetable needs, the width of the greenhouse you are looking at will fall somewhere between 10-20 feet (3.05 – 6.1 meters).

The most common greenhouse size to fall in this range is 8×16 feet (2.44 x 4.88 meters), and for a family of six, this is what we recommend.

How Big of a Greenhouse Do You Need to Feed a Family of Eight?

If you are looking to feed a family consisting of eight members with a greenhouse, you are now looking at an operation of a scale that is comparable to a commercial setup.

In this case, we would recommend a greenhouse measuring 8×20 feet (2.44 x 6.1 meters) to meet the needs of a family of eight. A 20-foot (6.1-meters) greenhouse is more or less the largest recreational greenhouse on the market.

Photo of a farmers market with strung chili peppers hanging in the foreground
Photo by Phinizrl

How Many Pounds of Produce Can Be Grown per Square Foot of a Greenhouse?

On average, assuming the growth is efficient and the results satisfactory, one can expect to yield roughly a pound of produce per square foot.

This will, of course, be affected by the type of plant and how liberally or illiberally you have spaced out your crops.

Close planting is necessary to yield a pound of produce per square foot in your greenhouse.

The above number of a pound (0.45 kg) per square foot assumes a flat, singular surface. However, as alluded to earlier, the benefit of a greenhouse is the ability to implement shelving, hence utilizing upward space.

The number of pounds yielded can be multiplied by the number of levels in a given square foot. For example, if you are using three levels of shelving, you now have the potential to yield three pounds (1.36 kgs) of produce from a single square foot.

Photo of an open book lying on a white background with trigonometry calculation emerging from the book.
Photo by Weerapat Wattanapichayakul

How to Calculate What Size Greenhouse You Need for Your Family

Every family is different, so there is no “one size fits all” when it comes to determining the right size greenhouse for your family needs. However, here are some factors to consider, as well as a simple way to determine the smallest size you would need for your family.

Factors that affect what size greenhouse you need will be the annual weather patterns in your area, the types of plants grown, the nutritional demand of the individual members of your family, and how much yard space you have available to allocate to your greenhouse.

If we assume that your family consists of all healthy adults and that yard space limitation is not an issue for you, then we recommend between 80-100 square feet per person. This will be accomplished with levels of shelving.

Typically, as the length and width of a greenhouse increase, so too does the height.

To provide an example, for a family of eight, we suggested a greenhouse of 8×20 feet (2.43 x 6.1 meters). This gives us 160 feet squared (14.86 meters squared) altogether. Divided by eight, this allots 20 squared feet to each family member. If we implement four levels of shelving, we have now brought that number to the equivalent of 80 squared feet (0.5 meters squared) in terms of yield.

This is a simple and concise way to calculate how big a greenhouse you need to feed your family.

Which Vegetables and Fruits Should You Plant in Your Greenhouse to Efficiently Feed Your Family?

Calories per square foot become a very important factor when determining how to best utilize your greenhouse space. Just to give an example, a single potato will go a lot further in feeding your family than a stalk of corn.

Of course, personal taste preference will play a large role as well.

The following is a general list, in no particular order, of the best vegetables to grow in your greenhouse to feed your family most efficiently:

  • Onions
  • Carrots
  • Potatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Garlic
  • Lettuce
  • Peppers

Fruits become a little more difficult in a greenhouse because so many grow from trees.

If you are committed to allocating space for growing trees in your greenhouse, this consideration should also be factored in when sizing your greenhouse. If you do want to grow fruits, the greatest tip we can provide is to make use of vines. Vines take up very limited space as they can easily be hung up to the ceiling, run along the walls, and draped on frames or wherever convenient.

Some of the most popular vine fruits are:

  • Grapes
  • Watermelon
  • Kiwi
  • Passion fruit

If you are looking to purchase some quality vine frame netting for your greenhouse at a fair and low price, check out the Nylon Garden Mesh from Calidaka.

How Much Does It Cost to Feed Your Family from a Greenhouse?

When determining the cost of feeding your family from a greenhouse, we must first look at the initial cost of the greenhouse itself.

Greenhouses range in price depending on the size and quality, but in general, you can expect to pay between $1,000-4,000 to purchase the greenhouse itself.

The more add-ons you install, such as heating, irrigation, and ventilation, the more it will cost you to set up and operate your greenhouse.

The construction materials that your greenhouse is fabricated from will greatly influence the total cost. For example, a base-cladding exterior will generally range between $1.60-3 per square foot, whereas a double-pane will cost somewhere between $2.50-3.50 per square foot.

The shape and style of your greenhouse will also greatly affect the cost.

Closing Thoughts

If you have decided to take the big step of growing your own produce for your family, some factors to consider when determining the size of greenhouse needed are:

  • Number of family members
  • Climate/weather in your area
  • The types of vegetables you plant
  • How skilled you are as a gardener
  • How well you utilize the space

Generally speaking, for a family of two, you will require a 6×10 feet greenhouse; for four, you’ll want 10×10 feet, for six members 8×16 feet, and for a family of eight, 8×20 feet should suffice.

When it comes to determining the right size, it’s always better to have too much space than not enough.

Here are Some of my Favorite Gardening Products and Tools

Thank you for reading this article. I hope you found it helpful for growing some new plants in your home or garden. Here are some products I like that I hope you’ll also find helpful. These are affiliate links, and I am compensated for referring traffic. But in all honesty, these are the exact product that I use or recommend to everyone.

Soil: For high-quality soil, I really like Fox Farm Ocean Forest. I do all my growing in containers and this soil has worked great for me. I like how they use nutrient-rich contents like earthworm castings, bat guano, and composted crab and fish.

Fertilizer: Currently I am using a seaweed-based organic fertilizer call Neptunes Harvest. This is a great milder fertilizer option if you want to use something organic. If you want a more powerful fertilizer, I recommend Fox Farm Liquid Nutrient Trio, lots of people have had great growing success with this product.

Pruning Shears: Pruning shears are one of the most useful gardening tools to have because it’s important to prune your plants to keep them healthy. The pruning shears I recommend are the Gonicc 8’’ pruning shears. I like them because they are built sturdy and work both on bigger and smaller plants, so you don’t need to have multiple pruning shears. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to also participates in affiliate programs with other sites. is compensated for referring traffic and business to these companies.