The biggest thing I learned from my first season of gardening was simply this: planning can make all of the difference.
I had decent success with my overly-ambitious first year of planting vegetables, but I came away wishing I had thought it through a bit better.
- When should I plant each specific plant?
- Where should I plant each plant? Shade? Sun? Greenhouse?
- What am I going to want to use the most of?
- What kind of maintenance does each plant need?
- When should I move seedlings from the greenhouse to the garden?
I approached all of these questions a bit too lazily last year, and am sure I could have maximized my garden had I taken the appropriate care in planning. I’m gearing up to start things in the greenhouse this week (!!) so I thought I’d share my thoughts and tools for planning this year. How to plan a garden, here we go!
- Do your research. What zone are you in? When are your first and last frost dates? What kind of plants grow well in your climate? What kind of sunlight do you get on your property? Finding out the answers to these questions will make moving forward much easier.
- The National Garden Association can help you determine your zone, and give you all sorts of useful information for understanding what it means!
- I like to browse at Burpee Gardening to see what kinds of seeds I can get. I just got my order of seeds in last week!
- Again, Burpee Gardening is a great resource to determine what kind of climate, sun requirements, timing, etc. each plant will need.
- I do this on paper, but there are online tools (like this Better Homes & Gardens garden mapping app!) to help you get the job done, too.
- My FAVORITE tool! Sprout Robot will tell you exactly when you should be planting each plant inside/outside, depending on your zip code. I love it!
Other helpful resources:
- The American Horticultural Society has an abundance of information about all things gardening!
- Companion Planting: Did you know certain plants help each other grow?
- Pinterest! I’m still working on beefing up my garden board, but there are SO many wonderful garden boards and pins to peruse!
- Your local extension. Most universities have an extension system you can call, or visit, to get information about gardening in your area. Check your local university to see if they offer any helpful gardening services!