The days are warming up, and signs of Spring are starting to show. So dust off your gardening gloves and get the seed starting pots ready. It’s time to start planning your garden!
1. Know Your Hardiness Zone
Your hardiness zone will tell you what can grown in your area. This is key information when doing any type of gardening. Not everything can be grown in all places, so it is best to Find your grow zone first.
2. Identify Your Garden Space
Look around your yard for the best suitable space for a garden. It is important to consider areas that have ample sunlight and properly draining soil. After you have found the prime location in your yard, it is a good idea to go ahead and measure the space out (you can sketch out a rough outline of your garden space and add measurements).
While searching for the perfect location, keep a few things in mind: How much space is available in your yard? Will you plant in raised beds, traditional garden beds, or pots? Some plants need different environments and conditions; therefore, you may need multiple gardens spaces around your yard.
3. Make a list of Vegetables to Grow
Now that you know the space, you can make a list of plants to grow. It’s best to start this list by selecting your favorite veggies and fruits. Then, you can add a few flowering plants such as marigolds, nasturtiums, and zinnias to help fight off pest in your garden. Keep in mind that some vegetables like tomatoes, corn, winter squash, and melons take up a lot of space. Melons, winter squashes, and pumpkins are all vine plants and tend to need lots of space. Plants that need less space are beets, carrots, greens, and lettuces. Also, there are plants that grow vertically on trellises like peas and beans, saving you space in the garden.
Another way to save on space is by planting a cool weather crop and a hot weather crop in the same bed; you get 2 seasons of crops from the same garden this way. Some plants grow best in the cool weather of Spring and Fall while others grow during the heat of summer. For example, you could plant some greens in April, harvest them in May and still be able to plant a summer crop such as cucumbers. Even if you don’t plan to plant cool and hot weather crops, you will want to consider planting dates on the plants you wish to grow.
4. Design Layout of Garden
Deciding how to layout the garden space you have selected depends heavily on the number of plants you wish to have and your style. Some plant in clusters while others plant in rows. Rows are generally a safe bet due to the ease of getting around the plants to water, prune, and harvest. An important factor to consider when deciding which plants to plant next to one another is companion planting. Companion planting is planting different plants close to one another to help control pest, encourage pollination, and create a habitat for garden friendly creatures. By companion planting, you can maximize your garden space and increase your harvest! See which plants are recommended as good partners here. Once you know which plants will be successful planted next to each other, you can determine the number of plants needed based on their expected mature size and the amount of space for your garden.
5. Check Your Soil
It is always best to check your garden’s soil prior to planting your garden. To determine your soil type, you can often have your soil tested for free by local universities. Once you know your soil type, you can amend as needed to match the requirements of your chosen plants.
If you can’t get your soil tested, at least add some compost/ organic matter to give nutrients to your soil. Also, if your soil is very dense or has a high clay content (which is a good possibility here in NWA), then add some potting soil and mix that into your soil.
Now that you have a plan, go ahead and check the suggested planting dates for seeds or the recommended transplant dates for plants in your area. Before long, the days will be warm enough to plant your garden.
Come see us to find everything you need to build the perfect garden: soil, amendments, seeds, veggie and fruit starts and expert advice!