Plan your garden

Planning helps you reach your gardening goal

Most people’s vegetable gardening goal is to grow enough food to fill their freezers and pantries to get them through the next winter. Careful planning is one of the best ways to reach any goal. Garden planning is no different and requires more than just looking through seed catalogs and picking out what you want to grow. Planning a successful garden requires taking many things into consideration.

The first thing is your garden site. Is it located where it can get six to eight hours of sunlight per day? Is there adequate water nearby? Is it convenient? People are creatures of habit and if something is not convenient we often will abandon it quickly. If you rented a garden space, is its location on or near one of your regular routes to work or school? If it is in your yard, is it near your house?

Then you need to estimate garden space. Is your garden large enough to accommodate your needs but not so large as to be overwhelming when it comes time to manage weeding? If you are a beginner gardener you may wish to start small and increase your garden size over time as you grow accustomed to the maintenance required. After you have considered these important features for a successful vegetable garden, consider the tools you will require. Tools are something that can be acquired over time, but there are some basic tools that are a must have for gardening, these include: trowel and claw, shovel, hoe, rake, hose, wheelbarrow and pair of garden gloves.

Decide how you are going to garden. Are you going to use a garden bed with rows? Is space limited so you are thinking about square foot gardening, or container gardens? Maybe something more vertical? Once you have decided on the kind of garden you want you can begin to draw up your garden on some paper or on your computer. This will help you to calculate how much seed you may need to grow to meet your needs. Iowa State University Extension produced a publication displaying expected yields from a 10 foot row. Use your diagram as a guide, saving the diagram from year to year so you can plan in your crop rotations. Get your soil tested if necessary as you prepare your garden beds for seeding or setting plants. Plant when recommended on the seed package or after danger of last frost. Keep it weeded and watch for bugs. It is easier to pluck off and destroy a leaf with eggs on it than to manage all the hatchlings later.

Mulch your garden to help conserve moisture, reduce weeds and create a barrier between the soil and your produce. When you reach the point where fruits begin to form in your garden, you are well on your way to reaching your gardening goal. For more information about vegetable gardening visit the Gardening in Michigan website.

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