Monday, April 11, 2016

Garden Planning - Where do I Start?

I know I have mentioned *many* times about how we did not have a garden last year.  Because of that, I feel like I need to come up with a plan for 2016.  I had wanted to start seeds indoors, but that hasn’t happened.  That leaves me with starting some seeds in the ground, and buying some seedlings from the green house and from the farmers’ market.

How do you decide what to grow?

This can be a challenging question.  I would love to grow a lot of winter squash and pumpkins, because they store so well, but they also take up an enormous amount of space in the garden.  I remember a few years ago planting sugar pie pumpkins, and they spread everywhere – and I only had 2 plants!


I think the first part of figuring out what to grow is what will your family eat?

It is easy to think that you can grow so many wonderful vegetables, but if no one is eating them, it is a waste of time and money, and more importantly space.

I don’t have the smallest garden space, but I also do not have the largest space.  I need to choose what I plant carefully to maximize the space I have, while still growing what we like to eat.

I use a modified square foot gardening method in my garden space.  Currently I have 9 4x4 garden beds.  I love the square foot gardening method because it seems like you get so much more food.  Plus, it isn’t as daunting to weed (at least until August when I completely give up the weeding).

I also have numerous pots to grow vegetables in.  My favorite pot to grow plants in is definitely the earthbox.  It is a self-watering container, keeps out weeds, keeps the soil warm because it has a covering, and I have always had amazing success with them.  I have three right now, but would like to add another this year.

The earthbox allows me to grow vegetables that don’t do as well in our short growing season.  Mainly jalapeno peppers, sweet peppers, and some tomato varieties.

Once I have laid out all the places where I can grow plants, I start to make my list of what I want to grow.

I always involve the kids in our garden.  I have found that if they participate in the garden planning, and then the planting and maintenance of the garden, they end up eating everything we grow, and that is a good thing in my book.

I usually sit down with them and ask what they would like to grow, and they give me a list.  Then I will add to the list from my own knowledge of what we will eat.  Once I have that *very long* list, it is time to start writing out where I can put everything.

This is the hard part.  I always end up with a list of plants to grow which would be perfect for a large farm, and since I do not have a large farm…or a farm at all…I need to pare down the list. 

I use graph paper and sketch out my 9 garden beds – one of the big reasons I love square foot gardening, because it is easy to lay out what goes where – and then fill in the spots with the plants.  I also list out which pots I have, how big they are, and what plants will be going in each of them.

Once I have all of this information, I can easily write out my list for how many seedlings we need, what seeds I need to buy, and then how much more space out of our yard I can convince my husband to dig up for me so that we can expand our garden just a bit more.

It is a pretty simple system to work with, and I like that.  I typically still end up with more seedlings than I have room for – which is why I do end up expanding the garden just a bit every year, but it is worth it to me for all of the fresh vegetables and fruit.

Now, if you don’t have a large garden space, but still want to try your hand at growing something, you could try herbs.  If you have a sunny patio or deck space, try the earthbox, you can plant more than one variety of plant in the box, and provide quite a bit of fruit for very minimal labor. 


How do you plan for your summer garden?  Do you try something new every year?  If you don’t garden, what is your favorite vegetable?

33 comments:

  1. I'm definitely getting excited for garden season! I tend to pick the veggies that we've had the most successful are and that gives us the most bang for our buck! Squash, zucchini, tomatoes,, cucumbers and peppers are our favorites. Last year we threw at eggplant in the mix and had great luck!

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  2. My yard is literally all shade, so we don't have a garden. Thankfully there is a farm stand 5 minutes down the road so I can get fresh produce at :)

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    1. The dreaded shade! Yes, that is a tough one to conquer! I am all for the farm stands, and you are lucky you have one so close!

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  3. We've done gardens for years but last year we gave up. Didnt do one. Its like another full time job to keep it up and keep those deers away from it. One year we are ALL set and were about to harvest, and that day the deer ate everything. So... now we go to Farmers Markets!
    Karen | GlamKaren.com

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    1. Deer are the only pest that I have yet to deal with. Last year we didn't have a garden, but the previous year we had one that the woodchucks decimated...we ended up having to dispose of 8 woodchucks that year. I'm a little afraid of what this year will bring!

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  4. It's so cool that you're into gardening. Too bad I live in an apartment, but these are really good tips. Great post! xx felinebykatsairs.com

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  5. I wish we could have a garden! I don't wish for the amount of work it would take, though! I always figured planning what to grow would be just, well, whatever would grow the easiest (I'm, uh, lazy xD ). But I do believe zucchini would always be on the list. They are fairly simple, from what I understand, and then you get a ton of giant squash magically that you can do all sorts of things with! I mean, uh, it makes cake. And bread. I suppose you could eat it like a regular vegetable, but c'mon, cake xD
    I am enjoying seeing these little peeks into how your garden is coming along, though, and am going to live the wonderful life of living in a place with a yard vicariously through you this summer :P

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  6. I have a small flower bed in the front of the house for flowers and such but the back will be a place for fruits and veggies. We have a while to wait before we can get started. Theres always a threat of frost before the long weekend in May.

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    1. We always plant Memorial Day weekend, or the weekend after. Except peas, peas can be planted early and do fine with a little frost...or even snow :-)

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  7. It's always gardening season here in Hawaii, which is so nice. When we first started I was really overwhelmed, but once we got into the swing of things with our pallet garden, it was wonderful! Fresh herbs and spices are the best!

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    1. That must be amazing! And the varieties you must grow - which would never work in my climate I'm sure! We are in Maine :-)

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  8. We have had a large vegetable garden for as long as we had children. They have always been involved the best they can be. I know this is why they LOVE their veggies now at 9 and 12! The 9 year old is a bit pickier but I can usually, eventually, get him to try almost any food.

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  9. I used to love helping my foster mum garden when I was a teen/kid. There is something so therapeutic about planting.

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  10. Gardening is great i love getting out and doing some....the only thing is gardening doesnt like me. I get them to the point where they pop out of the ground then boom, dead lol Great information and thanks for sharing. Maybe next spring I'll get it right 😊

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  11. I love live having a garden ita so fun and the kids love to gather what we grow my husband does the hard work but it's awesome !

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  12. My goodness, it really is that time of year again. Now that the snow has melted, I need to get out there. Thanks for the tips.

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  13. I have to start from scratch this year! The house we just moved in to doesn't even have a plot of any kind! Wish me luck!

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  14. I love to try new veggies in my garden but a few things are a must, tomatoes, basil, cilantro. I love my little garden.

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  15. This post is so enduring for Spring, while it could possibly start snowing again in Chicago at any moment. We do a city garden which can be a little tricky but usually works out very well.

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  16. Gardening posts are always a sign that Spring is here! I'm not a gardener but I sure do enjoy looking at all the hard work that is put into one!

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  17. When it comes to planting anything I simply gave up because everything I plant just seems to die. I would however like to give it a try this year and see if maybe my luck has changed.

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  18. I would love to have a garden one day. I always loved being in my moms and eating fresh green beans. Yum. Very helpful post!

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  19. I need to check out the EarthBox. I don't have a green thumb at all but would love to grow some tomatoes.

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  20. We like to grow peppers and herbs since we know we will use them... At the very least, to make homemade salsa. :)

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  21. My husband is a fan of peppers, carrots and herbs. WE've had a few accidentally things like pineapple and watermelon from spitting out the seeds, or just sprouting from the compost pile. I don't have a green thumb, but I enjoy organic and garden fresh!

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  22. We great veggies for a couple of years, till the squirrels found them and ate everything. Seriously EVERYTHING, even the stems. All I had of my squash plants were little stem nubbins sticking out the ground!

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  23. Gardening is something I keep telling myself I need to get into!!!! Maybe this year will be the year I make the garden happen!

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  24. The earth box sounds like a winner and something I can really make use of! Isn't it funny how kids will eat what they've helped grow.... I think that is my favorite part of gardening these days!

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  25. I dream to have a garden someday when we finally choose the country to live in! I'd have so many flowers and trees in blossom!

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  26. Great way to grow your own foods. We are planning the same in our yard. I love how it turned out. I think its so much fun to see your hard work grow.

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  27. These are great tips for starting your garden! I have my little seedlings growing in my greenhouse right now!

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  28. These are great tips! I need to try and be better this year. I have the worst green thumb!!

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  29. We had a garden years ago. I'm really not very good with plants and gardening.

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