Spring is just around the corner for many of us. Soon the snow will be melting away to expose the rested soil that is underneath teeming with life. The soil will thaw out, seeds will burst from their sleep and break through the ground. We all get excited about this time of year after we have been restricted to our cozy living room binging on YouTube gardening videos.
The winter is a great time to plan your garden so that you have everything lined out and ready to go for spring. In our last entry we started talk about some of things to consider while planning your garden. The first thing is deciding on how you plan to grow your vegetable garden. There are a variety of methods to use; traditional in-ground plot, raised beds and many other options. Once you have decided the method you will use then you can focus your attention on the location for your garden. There are a few things to keep in mind when trying to decide where to put your garden, the first being how much sun that location gets per day.
When trying to decide on a location for your garden based on sun exposure you should observe your yard throughout a day in spring and again in the winter in order to map out the path and exposure to the sun. Even though there are many vegetables and plants that grow well in the shade.
However, most fruiting vegetable plants require at least 6 hours of sun a day to thrive. Vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, squash and many more absolutely love the sun. You also have to remember plant placement when planting out your vegetables in order to not create shade in your garden unless you meant to. For example, your spot may get 6-8 hours of sun per day which is great but if you plant things in the wrong places within your garden you can harm your harvest. Vining vegetables such as cucumbers, squash or even indeterminate tomatoes that grow 5-6′ ft. tall can create shade in your garden which can be used in your favor or against you. If you are a new gardener the next step is to collect your materials in order to build your garden. There are a lot of different materials that can be used to build your garden and we will cover that in an upcoming article.
Now it is time to pick out the plants you want to grow to fit your garden space but also get the maximum harvest. When planning your garden and selecting the plants that you want to grow you should keep these things in mind:
- Will you eat it?
- Is it cost effective to grow it?
- Is it something that is available locally for cheap?
When I choose what I will grow for the upcoming season I first consider is it something that I will eat, but more so is it something that our family will eat. As a family we must eat enough of something to justify devoting the garden space to growing it. I love Brussels sprouts but I am the only one in the family that eats them so for our family it does not make sense to devote a ton of space to them. I am not saying that you cannot plant something that you like but rather when planning your garden think about how much of something you want. We choose to grow more broccoli because we all love it. The next thing to consider is: is it cost effective to grow it? What I mean by that is it going to produce enough to justify growing it. I want the most bang for my buck. When I spend time planning my garden I want to choose plants that will give me a sort of “continual harvest” or something that will easily re-seed for the next season. Crops like cauliflower and cabbages are “one and done” meaning they produce 1 head or crown before they are pulled out of the garden. Things like broccoli, spinach, salad greens, tomatoes, squash, melons and many others you can harvest many “fruits” throughout the growing season. The third and final thing to consider when choosing plants for the garden is it cheap and easily found in your area. Crops like potatoes, sweet potatoes and onions are fairly cheap to purchase at the market in their common varieties so I would encourage you to grow more exotic varieties of these crops. I usually devote more space in my garden to things like melons, tomatoes, peppers and different types of berries that tend to be more expensive at the market.
Once you have an idea of the types and varieties to grow you then need to plan out the layout of your plants in the garden. When laying out your garden you should consider the growing habits of the plants you plan on growing. Things like cucumbers, melons, beans and peas can be grown up trellises to maximize your space. Knowing the plants you plan on growing, the amount of food you wish to produce will aid you in deciding how many plants to grow of each thing. Once, you have considered all of these things it is time to start getting things done for your next growing season.
Good luck on planning your garden and be sure to check back for our next article on starting seeds indoors!