Creating a Garden Plan
- Where: site selection
Factors: what kind of soil. Heavy clay not so great, the water is retained, but there is poor drainage; sandy soil has limited water retaining capacity. A mix is best. Options: bring in compost, animal manures, build raised beds.
- Observe site: pattern of the sun—vegetables love full sun, but some crops prefer cooler temperatures. Are there shady spots for cooler crops? If not create your own shade with poll beans, corn or other plants. What is the slope? Plant perpendicular so water is held; what about foot traffic? establish beds and foot paths, you do not want people walking on your beds. Do you want your garden to be visible? What is your water source? Is there a hose nearby? Observe the drainage, is there water pooling? Become an OBSERVER.
- What to grow: First of all, what do you like to eat? Make a list of what you want to grow and then this list will be narrowed down by what you can actually grow depending on your region. Ask other people (especially at farmers markets) what grows well in your area, how long the growing season is, and when the first and last expected frost dates are. Each vegetable has a range to maturity and needs different amount of space. Space is a large indicator of what you can grow because it determines how many and what kinds of plants you are capable of including.
- Get yourself some resources: Johnny’s seeds, Rodales Encylopedia of Organic Gardening, The Organic Gardeners Home Reference, How To Grow More Vegetables, Knott Handbook for Vegetable Growers; the list goes on but just having a reference on hand can save a lot of trouble, and Johnny’s seeds provide catalogs with information, and always read the seed packages!
- When to get things started: some crops can be planted in the fall (spinach and peas for example), buy organic seeds or plants the conventional plants have been fed high doses of chemical fertilizer. When you plant one of these drugged up plant babies it will go through extreme shock (like a drug addict quitting cold turkey without consent). If you have a large space then spreadsheets, dates to maturity, how much, how many, rows/beds, and expected yield are important to keep track of, but in a small home garden a less structured log of your garden will suffice. Learn about companion planting—some plants like to grow together (tomato and basil), rotate crops every year.
Of course I will provide more information in future posts, but this is just a starting point. Starting a garden is a learning process: you must observe, respect, and work with nature, and you will be rewarded.
LEARN SOMETHING NEW EVERYDAY