Five Resources to Plan a Great Garden

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 Tomato Evolution 2
Garden planning time is getting ever closer! As you prepare to grow food and herbs to improve your health and save some money (not to mention enjoy the most delicious garden goods!) this spring, take advantage of the many resources that can help you grow bigger, better fruits and vegetables.

1. Figure Out What to Plant When 

In the March/April 2012 issue (on newsstands now), we ran this great article to help you determine which veggies to plant when depending on where you live. You simply look up your last spring frost date on the National Climatic Data Center's Freeze/Frost Map and, using your date as a guide, fill in this handy chart, which tells you when it's best to plant your veggies all season. You can print out the chart and hang it in your garden or potting area to refer back to all season.

Frost Dates

2. Order Seeds 

Heirloom seeds are those that have been passed down through generations of farmers, having been selected for their delicious taste and hardy nature. Heirloom seeds are also being wiped out as industrial farming has whittled down our nation's seed diversity over the past few decades. To grow the most delicious produce and help preserve our nation's biodiversity, consider planting heirlooms. Here are some of our favorite heirloom seed companies. To learn more about how to plant seeds, read this excerpt from the book Sugar Snaps and Strawberries: Simple Solutions for Creating Your Own Small-Space Edible Garden by Andrea Bellamy.

3. Get Help Planning the Veggie Garden 

If you're in the market for an app that will actually allow you to plan your garden virtually, then email you reminders about when to plant and other garden tasks, check out the incredibly useful Garden Planning App from our sister publication Mother Earth News. The app, available for computersiPads or other mobile devices, automatically spaces plants, calculates how many you can fit in a specified area, allows you to plant in any shape or size bed and includes an extensive database of more than 140 plants along with instructions on how to grow them.  

 MEN Garden Planner 2 

4. Get Help Planning a Beautiful Outdoor Room 

If you're hoping to design a beautiful outdoor living space, check out the new Garden Design with Jamie Durie app from landscape design expert and author Jamie Durie, who was featured in the July/August 2011 issue of Natural Home & Garden. The app includes photos of Durie's favorite spaces from across the globe, tips on how to design outdoor rooms, links to Durie's own garden and a searchable plant list that allows you to find the plants best suited to your location.

Jamie Durie App

5. Make Sure Your Soil is Ready 

Healthy soil is among the most crucial components of a healthy garden. Read this soil preparation article to determine what type of soil you have and whether it needs any amendments before you plant this spring. This is the perfect time to amend your soil, as your amendments will have time to have an effect before you're ready to plant.