Get down and dirty in the garden
Have you wanted to garden, but didn’t know where to start? Whether you would like to plant in pots, raised beds, a garden bed or a combination of these, you will need to take some time to plan your garden. Garden planning is not difficult, but it can be intimidating to some. It will take a little research, time, and patience.
Photo by Melissa LaPesh
To begin planning your garden you will need to decide what you would like to grow. If this is your first garden, it is best to start small. This can be a few pots of your favorite vegetables or a couple raised garden beds. The important thing is not to overwhelm yourself, otherwise you may not have enough time to care for the garden and you will end up viewing it as a chore rather than something enjoyable.
Benefits of Gardening
Tending to your garden can bring you pleasure in a number of ways.
• The aromas can be relaxing
• You will get exercise without knowing it
• Spending time in the sun aids in lifting your spirits and boosts your vitamin D levels
• Watching your garden grow successfully can make you proud
Beside these reasons and many more, the main one is you are growing your own food—food that will feed you and your family. Even if you start small, these are items you do not have to buy at the grocery store. Vegetables grown in your garden have so much more flavor than their grocery store counterparts. They get to ripen on the vine, which is beneficial not only to their flavor but also their nutrients. Some vegetables have to travel 1,500 miles before they are on your grocery shelf, thus, they are harvested prior to full ripening!
Garden Planning Fundamentals
When it comes to garden planning, researching these 4 fundamentals is a good place to start.
• How much sun each vegetable or herb needs
• How much water each needs
• Ph balance soil requirements
• Which plants are good companions for each other
Once you have this information, you can begin planning the layout. It can be as simple as drawing it on paper, or you can go the more sophisticated route and use an online garden planning tool (try the Mother Earth Living Garden Designer). Either way your goal is to place each type of vegetable or herb where they will grow best based on the information you have gathered.
It may take a few tries before you are happy with it. You may have to change the number of vegetables or even cross it off your list in order for your vegetables to flourish. If you find that you have to eliminate one or two from your list, see if it can be grown in a pot.
For instance, my first year I grew 4-5 different herbs. If this is the route you decide to take, you will need to make sure you are planting herbs that require a similar amount of sun and water together. Otherwise, plant them separately. That was the extent of my planning the first year.
The second year, I added a raised bed. I had and idea of what I wanted to grow, so I bought a couple books to help me out. The books I purchased were Fast, Fresh Garden Edibles by Jane Courtier and All New Square Foot Gardening, Second Edition, The Revolutionary Way to Grow by Mel Bartholomew. In addition to that I did some online research. I went through the books a number of times, because each time I had more knowledge which in turn brought up more questions.
All of this made me want more, but I reigned myself in because I knew that if my garden was successful I’d have a lot more to deal with than just planning. There would be pruning, weeding, and harvesting. All of which I enjoy! I get to spend time outside with my thoughts and delight in the vegetation that surrounds me.
Melissa is an organic gardener, cook, landowner and mother of three. She strives to improve her family’s health by learning about making the right food choices and educating others along the way through her blog, Enlightened Melissa.