When you study history, farming was the difference between someone’s ability to thrive and simply survive.
So it should come as no surprise that growing your own crops is something that deserves to have time, planning, and consideration spent on it.
But what if you are just planning a small garden?
Well, that’s okay because you still need to plan it out. What is the old saying? Look before you leap. Yes, that is exactly what I am going to show you how to do.
Here are a few helpful steps and tips for planning this year’s garden:
How to Plan the Perfect Garden
1. Garden Type
If you are new to gardening, the first thing you are going to need to do is to decide what type of garden you will have. There are options:
First, you could do a simple container garden. This is where you plant different fruits, vegetables, or herbs in a pot.
Then you place them on a balcony or porch, so they will grow and produce. The highlight of this type of gardening is that it doesn’t take up much space.
So you can produce your own food even if you live in an apartment or on a piece of compact land. I actually use a variety of gardening techniques including container gardening. I’ll plant some specialty plants in containers and grow them on my back porch each year. It is great for really anyone.
Second, you can choose to have a raised garden bed. This works well for people on smaller pieces of property, or if you would rather take care of multiple small beds instead of a larger garden.
Again, we use this method each year too. We have smaller garden beds to grow things that take longer to produce such a garlic or onions. This allows them to be separated but also makes them easier to care for too.
So if you don’t wish to have a large garden or if you just need to separate some crops out, then a raised garden bed could be good for you.
Finally, you can do a typical inground garden. They don’t have to be large, but they can be if you so desire.
Also, this type of gardening doesn’t require a lot of groundwork, meaning, you don’t have to find containers or build edges like you do in the other types of gardening. You just till up the soil and go forward with your plan.
2. Placement is Key
The next thing you’ll need to do is decide where you want your garden to go. It is important that you place it in a location where it will get full sun.
But if you don’t have full sun, try to place it where it will at least get morning sun. This will ensure that your plants get the right amount of sunlight to produce properly.
However, you’ll also want to make sure that your garden is in a place that is protected from predators.
For example, if you’d like to protect your garden from deer, then you might want to consider putting it in a fenced backyard.
Or if you don’t want to draw squirrels as easily, then consider putting it in an area that is away from trees.
So these are just a few things you’ll want to take into consideration when deciding where to place your garden.
3. Is it Easy Access?
You’ll want to think about how to make your garden easy to access. I say this because if it is too far away from your house it may take on the ‘out of sight, out of mind’ approach. Meaning, it is easier to forget about it.
But if you are planning a larger garden, then you’ll also need to think about how to make your garden easily accessible for a tiller or tractor.
For instance, if you are planning on using a tractor, then you may not be able to fence in your garden because the tractor won’t be able to maneuver. This might really change things as you plan your garden because if you can’t use a tractor, then you may decide to do a smaller garden (or multiple small gardens) instead of a larger garden just for easier maintenance.
So definitely think about how you will access the garden for everything from maintaining, planting, and harvesting.
4. Size of Garden
You will want to decide how large of a garden you’d like to have. This has always been a place where my husband and I have bumped heads because he is all about a huge garden.
Where I am all about a smaller, easier to maintain garden. My reasoning is, if it is smaller, then I’ll have more time to baby it and encourage it to produce higher yields of produce.
Where his line of thinking is to plant more and then reap more.
So he usually wins out, and we end up with more produce than we know what to do with.
However, this year will be the first year we are on the same page as far as a larger garden goes. My family has offered to pitch in and help us around the garden in exchange for some of the harvest.
So we are going all in, but I know it is going to be a lot of work. Which this is what you’ll need to take into account when picking a garden size. You need one large enough to fulfill what you need from it, but you also need to be realistic about how much time you have to maintain the garden too.
5. Till vs. No-till
This is a big debate and a personal decision in gardening as far as I’m concerned. Some people believe in the old-fashioned till your garden scenario.
While others use a method where you just pile items on top of your garden that will compost and allow it to make a rich dirt for your vegetation. Here is how you can start a no-till garden, and here is my opinion about the two.
Realize, if you try one method and want to switch it up, that is okay. That is the beauty of planning and growing your own garden. You can experiment until you find what works best for you.
6. What to Grow
Now that you know the size of your garden and where it is going to go, you’ll need to start making a list of what you hope to grow in your garden.
However, this list will vary greatly among gardeners depending upon the need and purpose behind the garden.
So I’m a gardener by necessity. This means that I try to mainly grow large quantities of food that I know my family will eat and that we will need throughout the year.
But I do a little experimental gardening on my back porch for vegetables that I’m not all that familiar with that I’d just like to try.
However, if you are someone who just gardens as a hobby, then your grow list might be filled with all kinds of exotic plants that you want to test out and see if you can grow them in your area or not.
So whatever your reason behind creating this garden, just be sure to take some time and know what you want to actually grow from it.
7. Maintenance Plan
Next, you need to develop a maintenance plan. This means that you have to know how you are going to weed and fertilize this garden to give it every opportunity to do well.
So if you have a larger garden, I’ll tell you from first-hand experience, you don’t want to do it all by hand if you can help it.
Which means you’ll need to consider investing in a tiller or using a tractor help keep most of the weeds out of the walking path of the garden.
Then you’ll need to use a hoe to remove weeds from between plants.
But if you are growing a smaller garden, then you may just need a hoe to knock every weed out of it. You’ll just need to know what is required to maintain your garden in advance so you’ll be ready to roll when your plants get growing.
8. Crop Placement
Once your maintenance plan is in place, you’ll need to decide on your crop placement. This needs to be decided after maintenance plans have been made because that can make all the difference in where something gets planted.
For us, we grow a larger garden that has to be maintained by a tractor. We tried doing it by hand and just about worked ourselves to death.
So when you use a tractor, you have to plant a tall crop and then a short crop. Then you repeat the pattern. The reason is so when the tractor rolls through it will go over the short crop and not damage anything growing.
Therefore, you’ll want to keep all of this in mind, when you are drawing out your garden plan and placing crops.
9. Crop Rotation
Not everyone practices crop rotation so this is something you’ll need to decide on during the planning period.
So people rotate crops to help keep disease down. If you plant the same plants in the same places year after year, eventually the pests and diseases know right where to go in order to attack.
However, some people don’t feel like crop rotation makes that big of a difference so they don’t worry about it.
Again, this is a personal decision, but one that you’ll need to make when deciding on where to place which crop.
10. Transitioning Between Seasons
Finally, you’ll need to consider if you are going to grow multiple gardens in a year. We grow a spring, summer, and fall garden.
However, we have to consider this when planning our garden. I have to plant things in the spring that won’t impact the growth of the items I need to fit in for my summer garden.
Then I have to continue the same train of thought when planting my fall garden. A lot of times certain crops from your previous garden will be ready to be pulled up at the same time that a new crop is ready to go in.
So you’ll need to think all of this through before planting your first garden of the year.
Well, these are my tips for planning your garden for the year. Hopefully, they’ll help you as you plan out this large task.
But I’d like to hear from you. What steps do you take in planning your garden for the year? Do you even plan your garden, or do you just do it as you go along?
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