Oh boy! The seed catalogs have arrived. And they have so many choices! How do you choose what to plant and how much to plant. Well, there are several things to consider when planning a garden. With all the seeds I currently have I could easily plant the whole neighborhood. But no way I could take care of it all. So how do you decide what to plant in your vegetable garden? Let me count the ways….
If you have a lot of space, you can plant a wider variety of vegetables. But if you are limited in space then you need to be a little more picky when deciding what to plant. Remember, you don’t have to have a large plot of ground. A small 4×4 raised bed, a flower garden, or a few potted plants on the porch will work too. And all can supply you with fresh produce through out the season.
After the available space this is the most important consideration for what to plant. Start by paying attention to what fruits and vegetables your family eats now. If you’re not sure if they will eat it, buy some at the store and feed it to them. If no one wants to eat it, don’t waste your time and space on what will only sit in the garden and rot. Believe me, mustard greens grow wonderfully in my area. I can grow enough to feed the whole neighborhood in a small space. But in my household no one likes them. I couldn’t even get my ducks to eat them. So I wont grow them again.
I don’t know about you but my time is very limited. I have a full time job, I blog, I take care of my house and I have animals to take care of. So
If you are like me, you don’t want the garden too big. Because, even if you get it planted, it then needs to be watered, weeded, fertilized and harvested. Your garden needs to be checked regularly for diseases and pests. The larger your garden, the more time it will take. I look in the seed catalog and I want to buy ALL the seeds. But I have to remember that I will need to take care of what I plant. So start small and increase in size as you find you have the time. What does this have to do with what to plant? You need to prioritize what plants you want to grow the most.
There are basically two types of plants. Plants that you plant this year and harvest this year. These are annuals like tomatoes, eggplant and lettuce. And plants that you plant once and harvest for years to come. There are perennials like blueberries, horseradish and asparagus. You need to know which type your plants are and do not mix them in a garden bed. You will want to pull out the spent annuals, then till and solarize the soil. You will not want to disturb the roots of the perennials. There are exceptions but for the most part, the best rule of thumb is not to mix the two.
Now that you have decided what your family wants to eat and how much time and space you have, here are four more things to consider to help you weed down the list of what to grow.
You will save the most money by growing the items that you spend the most money on. Whether it is an expensive item like fresh herbs or something your family just eats a lot of, grow what will save you the most money.
Maybe your family likes things that are hard to find in your grocery store, like Jacama or ground cherries,or maybe Asian greens.Those are great things to grow so you know right where to find them. In your garden.
Fresh herbs and greens get bruised so easily. And there is nothing to compare with a tomato ripe from the vine.
Unless you have a greenhouse, someone in Minnesota will probably not be able to grow oranges and someone in Florida will not be able to grow Macintosh apples. Most people can grow a neighborhood supply of zucchini from one plant. Unless you live in a very humid and fungus ridden place like South Florida (like me). Some plants just do better in one area over another. Find out what grows well in your area. Then grow that! Of course only if your family will eat it.
Every garden should have some flowers. Flowers do so many things, from attracting polinators like bees, keeping pests away and just making your garden more beautiful. Don’t forget to plant some flowers.
Ok, Now take all these things and cut your list in half. That’s probably going to be about the right amount. 🙂
How will you know what things you like, and what will grow well, if you don’t try new things. You don’t have to grow a lot of it, but it is good to give something new a try. You will find some things that you don’t want to grow again. But you might just find your new favorite!
Happy Gardening! And Have a Ducky Week!
Want more ideas about gardening? Check these out!