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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Planning your garden.

Spring is upon us,well almost,which means it is time to start planning for planting the garden.
There are many ways to get started,till,no till, containers,square foot,raised beds and many,many more. Once you have decided how you want to dig up your garden area it will be time to figure out all of the rest.

I really recommend spending some time out in your yard paying attention to a few factors. Sunlight,location and space . If you were farming there would be more to than just those 3 so count yourself lucky that you just want a vegetable garden not fields of crops.

The location...We have our garden all over the yard front and back with this in mind you can choose where you want your garden to be.I have really enjoyed having my garden right out my doors for quick easy picking and a lovely view. Maybe because of space you too will need to think about having garden beds where ever you can find space. Who says that a garden HAS to be all in one spot when you have good sun in a couple of places? Some people who live in rentals use the existing flower beds as their garden,we have and you would be surprised how much can grow in a little bed. Some is better than none.
Next dose the space you are considering get enough sunlight? A full 8 hours of full sun is perfect but my back garden gets 5-6 hours worth and is just fine. When we first planned our back garden I realized if I moved the garden over by 3 feet I would get more light,our back fence shades the one side of the garden.(This shady area that was going to waste is where we ended up building our chicken coop. More about that soon.) Dose the area have a shaded side? You can plan to plant veggies that don't need as much full sun in that area. Lettuces don't like the heat so planting them on the shady side can enable you to grow or have lettuce longer into the summer heat. Also knowing which way the sun crosses your yard is helpful. An old trick to figure this out is to put some tall sticks(2-3 feet long.) a few feet apart if the space is large in a row that follows the path of the sun,you can then use the sticks much like a sundial but you are watching to see where the shadows are. This will help you to plan where to plant what. For example you don't want to plant some thing that is going to be tall like tomatoes in front of something shorter that likes the sun just as much as the tomatoes do. And don't forget to take into consideration the trees around you. Are they currently bare of leaves? Will they leaf out and make more shade than you want? If the tree belongs to you is it in need of some pruning which would give you the sun you are needing?

How much space you need overall is up to you and how much you want to plant and how much time you have. The bigger the garden the more time you will need. We started out with what I consider a medium sized garden when we first moved here but over the years have added to it. Adding more later I think is a good approach if you have never gardened before.It allows you to explore wither or not you like to garden,have the time or wither or not you chose a good location.

When planning the amount of space you will need take into consideration what you will be growing and how. Many vining plants like cucumbers or squashes can be grown vertically on a trellis which is great way to maximize your growing room. Green beans can be grown either as a bush or as a vine depending on the variety you choose again saving space for other things. Read up on what you want to grow and the space each thing will need. Radishes are compact but pumpkins need room to roam and are better off away from the main garden,trellised or along the edges of the garden where it can freely spread.
Alright then, you stood out in your yard got a good idea of sun and location now you are ready to dig. But are you ready to dig? Did you spend a few different times out in your yard? The weather and sun are unpredictable,one cloud can change the view of what you thought was "The Spot". Was it a cloud or a tree causing that shade?Have not seen the sun in days? Go back out the next sunny day and look again. Digging a garden is big work; who wants to regret where they dug?
How you dig and prepare your soil for planting is another posting coming soon.I will also add into that posting how to choose your seeds.

Life here is settling into a better routine. Chance is no longer working 3 evenings a week,freeing up more time for projects and family.My body has mostly adjusted to the heavy work I am doing at Urban Farm Store,give me one more week and maybe my muscles will have forgiven me. I think I am bringing home Chicks this Friday.I am still chewing that over,wait VS don't wait,we shall see.


  1. Perfect timing. We're figuring out how to grow a modest vegetable garden and where to put it.

  2. Margaret,Let me know if I can help you with any questions that come up.In the coming weeks I am going to be posting a step by step on how to get your garden going so stay tuned.
    BTW: Once you grow your own you'll never go back AND you WILL have veggie loving kids. : )

  3. great timing for this post. I jsut spent sunday in my garden doing some planning.

    last april I converted half my front yard into 4 raised beds. I planted tons of things, but didn't consider sunlight and the plants blocking others... although I had a very successful year and including my winter crops saved myself almost $1,100 in produce, this year I want to be even more efficient!!

  4. Todd,Good for you! This year I am planning to better track how much we save with the garden.
    I know I save alot.Esp. since a packet of Cucumber seeds (for example) costs around 2.50.I can buy 2-3 cucs in season for that at the store OR I can grow as many as we can eat for several months.
    I also know we save up to $15 a week by me baking our bread.
    Good luck and let me know if you have any questions I might be able to answer.