Planning a garden will not only make planting less stressful but will also ensure the health and longevity of your plants. How much you plan for your garden is entirely up to you.
Depending on your goals for your garden, you will want to take into consideration companion planting, sun mapping, and urban gardening.
Why Plan A Garden?
I know from experience that planting a garden can turn into a somewhat stressful event. Especially if you have little children around, or are planting an enormous vegetable garden.
We plant a lot of vegetables every year, and I love it, but it can feel like a huge undertaking.
Planning ahead of time what and how you will plant helps immensely to make your planting less stressful.
When Should You Plan Your Garden?
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When you need to plant your garden depends a lot on a couple of things. Take into consideration your frost dates as well as how long your growing season is. You need this info in order to know when to start-up seedlings, and when to plant.
Knowing your growing zone is crucial to knowing when to start planting. That is also the first step to knowing when to plan because you essentially plan backward.
February is a great time to start planning your garden. The seed companies are sending out their seed catalogs, and planting fever starts to hit.
A lot of people in the more southern areas start-up seeds this time of year as well.
I like to use the Garden Planner Template this time of year to draw out my garden plan. This works for a perennial garden as well, and if you need plant ideas, here are more than 25 perennial plants that do well in zone 2.
We still have a while before I can start planting, but this gives me enough time to decide what else I need when it comes to gardening supplies.
We live in a zone 2b growing season. This gives us a very short growing season, but we also have very long days. That helps us to be able to grow crops that we otherwise could not.
Find out your last frost date. If you desire to start seedlings, start them up 8-10 weeks before your last frost date. I am envious of you that are able to start your garden in March already.
While I enjoy the winter break we have from pulling weeds etc., I would love to be able to grow a bigger variety of food and herbs.
If you are a seasoned gardener, you know the importance of planning your garden ahead of time. Last year, my garden was a mess. With a proper plan, it can be much better this year.
Warm-season and Cool Season Crops
There are some crops that do better in a cool season. Among these are cauliflower, broccoli, as well as beets, carrots, and lettuce.
Warm-season plants include tomatoes, peppers, and beans. Cool-season plants can withstand lower temperatures in the fall, and they can also be panted earlier when the soil is still cool.
Warm-season plants cannot tolerate any frost and need the soil to be warm before they will be able to germinate.
Things To Consider When Planning Your Garden
Your garden needs healthy soil to be able to grow healthy plants. Your soil should be rich with organic matter, loose, level, and well-drained. You don’t want to choose a location where your soil stays wet and doesn’t drain.
Also, while choosing a place where weeds don’t grow might seem ideal, remember that weeds actually prefer a good location too. If weeds don’t grow, your plants won’t grow either.
How much sunlight will your plant get?
Most plants need at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day, some even more. Make sure you plan your garden in an area that gets adequate sunlight. A location that gets full sun is ideal.
Make your garden near a water source if possible. If you live in an area without sufficient rainfall, you will need to water your garden weekly.
Water is needed during long dry spells, as well as during seeding time.
Don’t overthink it though. Few people have the perfect garden location, so choose the best one you can and roll with it. Your garden design will grow and change as you gain more experience.
When planning your garden size, take into consideration how much extra time you have. You might not have the time or desire to take care of a large garden.
It’s better to start with a small garden, than too big. You can always make it larger as you go along.
Also, if you are limited by a small yard, you can plant more than you think. Using space-saving options such as the Vertical Garden Planters will help you grow a lot more vegetables than you’d think.
What to Grow
Grow things you love.
There is no use in planting foods that you won’t eat anyway. Look ahead to foods that you can preserve, and store over the winter.
Try some new things as well.
I am always in favor of trying several new things each year. You never know what you will grow to love. This year I want to grow beets. Beets are incredibly nutritious, and the coloring can also be used as a food dye, instead of unhealthy food colorings.
How much space do you have?
Certain types of plants such as squash, zucchini, and pumpkins use a lot more room to grow. Take that into consideration when choosing your seeds.
Cucumbers also take a lot of room, but using a trellis can help maximize your space efficiently.
How Much To Plant
If you have the space and the time, plant as much as you can. Don’t overcrowd your seeds, however. Follow the directions on your seed packets.
Maximize plant spacings, and companion growing. In each community, there are always people that would happily take fresh produce off your hands if you have it to share.
Our community is pretty amazing with this. If my tomato crop is a failure, someone else has spare and I am still able to make pizza sauce and tomato soup.
Efficient Use Of Space
Even if you have a small yard, you can still plant a garden.
Maximizing the space that you have through can still produce a bountiful garden for you. Planting companion plants is a great way to make the most of your hard work.
This makes sure that the plants help each other instead of hindering each other’s growth.
Arrange your garden area in a way to make the most of your space and light.
Group tall plants together on the north side of your garden, so they won’t shade other plants that don’t grow as tall. Plant shade-loving plants in shady areas, where the sun can not shine as much.
Tomato plants and pepper plants love it hot, so they would not do well in partial shade.
The best time to start planning your garden is before early spring. Knowing your planting dates is the first step in planning. Work backward from that date, and find the date that you need to start up your plants.
Garden Planner Template
Jumpstart your garden with this garden planning template. I created this after a disastrous planting experience one year.
I was so unorganized and unproductive, I knew I could make this easier for myself. A good plan will help you take into account the size of the garden you are planting and what the next step is.
Have you planned your garden already for this year? Let me know in the comments below.