How to Plan a Garden!

 

Hello all! It has been a weird couple of weeks hasn’t it? Currently, I am writing this from my home where I will be working and practicing social distancing for the next few weeks. Fortunately, there are many things to do in the gardening world, to take up some time. One of those things is to plan out a garden! I’m here to tell you how.  

 

When starting your garden plan, there are three key questions to ask yourself:

  • WHAT are you going to plant?
  • WHEN are you going to plant it?
  • WHERE are you going to plant it?

First thing is first, WHAT are you going to plant? This is the time to choose what veggies, fruits, and herbs you would like to grow.  What do you typically eat a lot of or don’t ever eat because it’s too expensive at the store? Really think about what you or your family will eat the most of and plan accordingly. You should also consider HOW MUCH of each veggie, fruit, or herb you want to plant.  Here’s a nice chart of how much to plant per person or for a family of 4.  If you want to can or dehydrate part of your harvest, consider doubling or tripling these suggested amounts. It’s good to always plant 10-20% more than you think you will need because of inevitable plant loss to pests and disease.

Second, WHEN are you going to plant it? There are three main planting times: early spring (March-April), late spring (April-June), and late summer (August-September). Certain plants like cool weather e.g. leafy greens, peas, and root vegetables while others like hot weather e.g. tomatoes, peppers, squash and beans. It’s important that you know when to plant because that will determine when you harvest. Harvest times are very important because it will determine when you are able to pick your veggies and how often. Consider that some plants need to be resown in order for you to have enough to harvest. This is called Succession Sowing. Feel free to check out this Plant Cheat Sheet to see crop’s days to harvest, how many plants per person to grow, and how many successions are needed throughout the season. 

Third, WHERE will you plant it? This is the fun part where you draw out your garden map for the year!  First, identify the measurements of your garden. (ex. 25’ x 25’) Next, you’ll want to mark down the spacing requirements for each crop you plan to grow. On each seed packet, there will be a section that states depth, spacing, and row width. Pay special attention to these. Then calculate how much row feet each crop will need in your garden (# of plants X spacing requirements). For example, tomatoes need 18 inches each and you want to grow 10 of them, so your tomatoes need 15 feet of space in your garden. 

Last is the fun part! Draw out your garden area and planting beds to scale on a sheet of graph paper. Mark the cardinal directions (North, South, East, West) and then map out the crops you want to grow. Remember to keep the spacing requirements to scale! Below is an example of a mapped out garden. Use the image above for reference.

Now you are equipped with a garden plan and you can be confident that the plants and seeds you’ll be spending your money on will have a spot to grow in your garden!