I’m sitting at my kitchen island surrounded by seeds and paper. I have a plan for my soil, a guide of companion plants and my seeds selected. Now, it’s time to start planning the actual gardens. It’s a big job and one I want to make sure I take my time with to ensure that we get the most out of our growing space and short Ontario growing season. Originally I planned to blog about my actual garden plans, but since they won’t be ready for a while yet, I thought instead I would help you plan yours. I do promise to share those plans with you once they are finalized.
Inspiring others to get back to the land is one of the main purposes for my small space here on the worldwide Interwebs. Last year a few of my friends caught the bug from me. It’s easy to see why. For months, all I could talk about were seeds and gardens and chickens and… goats (I am not giving up).
You could say I am passionate about growing and raising my own food and apparently that passion is contagious. It is so inspiring to hear others talk about their newfound zest for becoming food self-sufficient. I can’t help but smile to see the ripple effect of the small, seemingly insignificant pebble I have cast into the water. I hope you are all inspired at least a little bit to start planning your garden after finishing this post.
While garden planning is a lot of work, it’s also fun. There are so many options no matter how large or small the space. My awesome husband bought me Groundbreaking Food Gardens by Nikki Jabour for Christmas and I have flipped through it from front to back several times since. The book is chalk-full of inspiring garden plans from a coifed culinary courtyard to a biodynamic farm. If you are looking for inspiration I highly advise checking out this book. You could also follow my garden ideas board on Pinterest (I am a Pinaholic, my husband calls this time period “Life After Pinterest”) for inspiration as well as a broad range of information on organic gardening to make your experience this spring a successful one.
Things to consider when planning your garden
Space: One of the most important determinations is how much room you have to grow on. If you only have a small space to work with you might want to reconsider growing something that takes up a lo t of space like pumpkins or squash. One way to save space is to think vertical. This can mean a number of different things. One way I plan to save space in one of 8×4 raised beds is to put a trellis over half to grow my red malabar (one of the many awesome varieties I scored at last weekend’s Seedy Saturday). For those unaware of malabar (as I had been up until Saturday), it’s a heat-loving alternative to spinach that packs just as much of a nutritional punch. Malabar is a vine and it will grow up the trellis creating room to grow shade-tolerant varieties like lettuce, spinach and arugula below. Another way to go vertical is to install various planter boxes along a fence to grow veggies, herbs and other edibles in. One great idea I have come across on Pinterest is using an upright pallet (For instructions on creating your own pallet garden check out this step-by-step guide from Bright Nest). Last year we planted strawberry plants in an old eavestrough as a space saver (I wish I had a photo to share of this though we were too late in getting the strawberries and planted and ended up with 0 berries).
Location: Not all plants are made alike. Deciding on the location of your garden will make some of the decisions for you. Ideally, you want to pick the sunniest spot to ensure that your veggies have six to 12 hours of sunlight a day. Most fruit and root vegetables require full sun to really thrive. Tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and beans all love a hot, sunny location. While most veggies love to soak in the rays, there are varieties which perform in the shade so if you are limited on where you can grow veggies look for varieties that do well in the shade. Arugula, for instance, requires only three hours of sunlight while Swiss Chard enjoys at least twice that. Mother Earth News has a great list of the best shade tolerant vegetables.
Succession Planting: I am not going to pretend to be an expert on this topic (nor do I really claim to be an expert on any of the other topics in this post but those I have little more personal knowledge on). The idea behind succession planting is to make the most of a short growing. There are two basic ideas behind succession planting, the first is to spread out the planting dates and the second is to replace short-growing crops with ones that need more time. For instance, I am going to be growing cherry belle radishes which only take 25 days to reach maturity (yay! Did I mention I can’t wait until spring?). This particular variety of radish prefers cooler weather so I plan to plant several rows of radish a few weeks apart in early spring and replace them with a heat-loving crop once they have run their cycle. I also plan to do a repeat planting of radishes in the fall when the heat lovers have are ready to harvest. I plan to space plantings of most direct-sow crops like beans, peas, greens, radish, carrot and scallions.
I hope you enjoyed my four-part garden planning series. Stay tuned for a future post on seed starting to help you get those veggie plants ready for your garden.
In case you missed it, here are the previous posts in this series
This post was featured on Green Thumb Thursday hosted by Feathers in the Woods