Plotting a Successful Garden

Warm spring temperatures invite us to take advantage of the outdoors. If you are looking for a new way to spend time outside, you may want to consider planting your own vegetable garden. Not only will it produce some delicious food, but gardening can be very relaxing. If you’ve never grown your own produce before, it has been recommended to start off small and build up to a larger garden in the future. Creating a small plot gives you a great introduction to gardening, what tools you like, and how much time is required to maintain your plants.

Garden Bed– The first decision you will need to make is what type of bed you’d like for your garden. In addition to just using pots, you have two choices – planting directly into the ground or in a raised bed. Both options have pros and cons so it really just comes down to preference. With many views on each type, it’s best to do some research and decide which works for you. If you choose to go with a raised bed, you can either buy one at your local hardware store, or build your own.  For information on building your own click here.

Basic Gardening Tools-When starting a garden, you’ll need to acquire the basic tools necessary to regularly maintain it. The size of the tool you purchase will be heavily determined by the type of garden you choose to create. For instance, if you choose to go with a raised bed garden, you may want to opt for smaller hand tools. This list should help you get an idea of what many gardeners keep in their shed:

  • Gloves – A thick pair of gloves to protect your hands from thorns and chemicals. Leather or synthetic offer a bit more durability and protection over cotton.
  • Hand Trowel – A small tool used for digging holes in a garden bed or mixing soil with other additives such as fertilizer or compost. Look for a hand trowel with a solid/comfortable grip and strong blade.
  • Hori Hori Knife – A versatile tool that can be used for digging, weeding, planting, cutting bags open and much more.
  • Pruning Shears/Knife – Ideal for harvesting as well as cutting plants back.
  • Hoe – Good for breaking up soil and weeds
  • Shovel – For digging larger holes to plant trees and shrubs, and is also good for mixing larger quantities of soil.
  • Rake – Ideal for removing leaves and bits of debris from your garden.
  • Hose – Be sure to purchase a nozzle for the end so you can water your garden with more of a spray rather than a large stream of water.
  • Wheelbarrow for carrying your soil or heavy items.
  • Bucket to keep small tools, gloves etc… in a central location, it can also be used to gather up your leaves and clippings.
Location – Where you place your garden can have a big impact on its success.
  • Reminder – It is a good idea to put your garden somewhere you will see it or pass it daily so you will be reminded to tend to it for at least 10 minutes a day.
  • Sun – Most vegetables tend to grow best with between 6-8 hours of sunlight each day. While this is pretty typical, there are other options if your home does not have quite so much sunlight. You can plant vegetables that require less sun, such as root vegetables, or stick to planting seeds in containers that can be moved to sunnier locations as needed.
  • Space – You will need to put some serious thought into what you hope to accomplish with your garden and then select an area that can accommodate the amount of space you will need to achieve your gardening goals. This will definitely come into play if you are planning to grow any vegetables or fruits that sprawl, such as grapes or others that just require more space between plants.
  • Water – To save yourself a little bit of work, try to situate your garden close to your water supply.
Choosing vegetables- With your garden all ready to go, you just need to get some veggies planted. Things to consider:
  • Your Climate
  • What season you are planting in
  • How much maintenance is required
  • How much space do you have
  • Timing – Should you plant seeds or transplants? Consider when you are planting, if you get a late start you may want to just go with transplants.
A few ideas to get you started in your veggie choice for late spring include:

Cucumbers-
These tasty vegetables are a great option for your home garden and are best to be planted when the temperature is a reliable 70 degrees or above. While there is a vine variety, bushes are better suited to containers or small gardens. Cucumbers are great because they grow fast and don’t require a ton of maintenance aside from consistent moisture, about one inch per week. For more information on cucumbers please click here.

Snap Beans-
Another great addition to your home garden are snap beans. Not only are these a dependable producer but they are very easy to manage. These delicious veggies come in a variety of sizes and colors. These can be grown either by pole, which requires a tall trellis, or bush, which requires less set up. It is important to keep beans weeded and mulched to conserve moisture. To learn more, click here.

Tomatoes-
These are a great, low-maintenance option to consider planting in your new garden. Tomatoes need a heavily sunlit section of your garden to ensure they get between 6 and 8 hours of sun each day. Before planting, it is wise to decide on a plan for supporting them, trellis, cage or stakes, as they tend to grow pretty tall. Click here for more info.
Here are a few links to help you get started with seed selection and a timelines:
 
 
 
The options are really endless when trying to work out your garden. It is a good idea to jot down your ideas, research your options and plan your space before starting. By planning ahead, your chances for success become much greater. Happy gardening!
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