Which Vegetables Are Most Efficient?

Some plants are more efficient in the vegetable garden than others.

What should you plant? If efficiency’s your aim, this chart will help. Learn which vegetable plants give you the greatest yield per square foot.

This list from the National Garden Bureau (NGB) rates vegetables based on their total yield per square foot, average value per pound, and length of time in the garden. Crops are rated from 1 to 10, with 10 being the most efficient.

Tomatoes, grown on supports 9
Onions, green bunching 8.2
Leaf lettuce 7.4
Turnips for greens and roots 7.4
Summer squash 7.2
Onions, bulbs for storage 6.9
Peas, edible podded 6.9
Beans, pole 6.8
Beets, for greens and roots 6.6
Beans, bush 6.5
Carrots 6.5
Cucumbers, grown on supports 6.5
Peppers, sweet 6.4
Broccoli 6.3
Swiss chard 6.3
Kohlrabi 6.3
Mustard greens 6.2
Spinach 6.2
Beans, lima (pole type) 6.1
Radishes 6.1
Cabbage 6.0
Leeks 5.9
Collards 5.8
Okra 5.7
Kale 5.6
Cauliflower 5.3
Eggplant 5.3
Peas, English 5.2
Brussels sprouts 4.3
Celery 4.3
Melons 3.8
Winter squash 3.8
Pumpkins 1.9

According to Nona Koivula, former Executive Director of NGB, vegetables have become generally more productive since this rating was established, thanks to breeding improvements (especially in peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, and winter squash). However, it remains a good guide for comparing one crop to another.