You looked at amazing pictures of gardens overflowing with ripe veggies. You buy the seeds, till some ground or buy dirt and containers, put in precious time, only to be disappointed. Your garden didn’t look like the one you envisioned! Your garden didn’t have the abundance of those you aspired to copy. It’s so sad. Putting all that hope and work into a garden only to see it fail. What went wrong?
Success begins before you turn that first shovel full of dirt. The secret is in research and planning.
I know. Research may not be your favorite thing to do but it doesn’t have to take the fun out of gardening. In fact, it will turn your woes into the enjoyment you look forward to as you watch your plants flourish.
The flip side of not doing research is doing too much! Conflicting advice can leave you more confused than when you started.
If you need a better plan, this article is for you.
These are the first important questions to ask yourself for a garden plan that will work for you.
- What do I want to grow?
- How much space do I have?
- How much light is available?
- How much time can I dedicate to gardening?
- Is this the right season to grow?
- When do I plant?
I created a handy FREE worksheet that will help you plan your garden like a pro. Your answers will help you decide the steps to a successful garden plan. When you subscribe, you gain access to the garden worksheet and lots of other workbooks and guides created for subscribers! Subscribe HERE.
What do I want to grow?
Well, it would be something you would actually eat! Include your favorite veggies first, then add a couple that you would consider “new” or an “experiment”.
How much space do I have?
Most vegetables can be grown in a container and you’ll need containers that are big enough for the plant. For example, corn will take a much larger container than green beans. Some veggies are more efficient with their space than others. With some research, you can determine the best use of your space. You may opt-out of veggies that need a lot of space and choose a veggie that can grow a lot of produce in a smaller space. Green beans is one example that uses relatively small space for the amount of produce they yield.
Traditional gardens (planted directly into the soil) need careful planning for space as well. How far apart should the plants be? How far apart should the rows be? Is your soil rich enough to handle a little crowding or is it safer to plant strictly according to the guide? If you are sure your soil is very healthy, then you can crowd the plants a little, about 1/3 closer than the suggested space between plants. Otherwise, don’t be tempted to plant closer! They may start out strong but become unhealthy later.
How much light is available?
Many veggies require direct daylight for at least 6 hours a day, others do best with up to 10 or 12 hours a day. For example, lettuce can grow with partial shade if the location is bright, whereas. cucumbers, in the same location, will not survive.
How much time can you dedicate to your garden?
Avid gardeners, like me, would advocate time in the garden daily, even if it’s just a walk into the garden space-for you and your sense of well-being. But your plants need you too! Try to be as realistic as possible. Research and a little experience will tell you that you will need to water some veggies every other day, increasing to daily if the weather is hot and the crop is in the producing stage. Pots typically need watering more often than “traditional” gardens.
Is this the right season to grow my veggie?
This is the most common mistake beginner gardeners make. You may be surprised, but many of our favorite veggies grow in seasons that may not work for you right now. Some veggies don’t stand a chance in your location-ever! For example, I remember wanting to grow asparagus. I live in central Florida. Asparagus will not grow in Florida. Why? It needs a good freeze for dormancy. We seldom get a “hard” freeze where I live. It also cannot survive the constant high temperatures we have in the summer. A favorite veggie, broccoli, grows when the weather is cool. Where I live, it’s considered a winter crop. If I wait until Spring to grow it, it simply cannot survive the summer heat when it would be time to produce a head. Unfortunately, you will see “Fall” seedlings for sale in the Spring and vice-versa.
When do I plant?
Now that you know that different veggies do best in different seasons, it’s important to know when to actually plant during the correct season. Things to consider are:
- How long will it take for the plant to go from seed to harvest? Are you planning a trip or is the crop expected to ripen at the wrong time of year?
- When is the last frost predicted? Summer veggies cannot endure frost.
- Is the weather too hot? (Florida gardeners have to wait for cool weather for some crops)
Information from a reliable resource for your location is the best place to find answers to these questions.
The most reliable place to get gardening information is from your County or State Extension Office. Find a University in your state that has a Food and Agricultural College. Simply go to google and type in your state university name and add the words vegetable garden in the search bar.
To learn more about how to select seeds read, The Best Seeds That Will Make Your Florida Garden Successful, click here.
Another freebie I created for subscribers is my personal list of successful varieties that grow well in my growing zone 9a which includes central Florida. If you are in zones close to my zone, these varieties will do well if you follow the planting times specific to your zone. Simply subscribe to get the key to the library which includes the list and where to purchase them, links included! Don’t worry, I narrowed the seed companies to the few best ones.
You can also start asking people if they know of a gardener that has some experience. Most gardeners are more than happy to share what has worked for them. In fact, well-seasoned gardeners often understand the soil and techniques better than their learned scholars at the universities!
Another great resource is a local garden club or community garden. Working alongside other gardeners will give you a wealth of information.
Making a plan is good.
This scripture from Proverbs reminds us that planning is good, even for gardens! Proverbs 21:5 NLT Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty.
If you follow these steps first, one day, you will be posting beautiful pictures of a lush garden. Now you are ready to start your plans! Subscribe for a FREE worksheet that will be a great beginning of a beautiful garden.
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Lots of Love,