First off I have to say, I am not an expert gardener. At the age of 14 I developed a love for growing things when I started working part time during the summer for a local nursery. I truly loved it! Since I have been married I have had some sort of garden (even if just a container garden). Where I live now I am required to use raised beds for gardening (we live on almost solid bedrock). So I have just had one large raised bed on the east side of our home we have used for the last 3 years. This year we plan on starting with atleast three hopefully four 4×4 raised beds in the back of our home. There is nothing more exciting than being able to go outside and watch your food grow, except maybe picking it 🙂
This is the time of year when the gardening catalogs start coming in and we all start looking intently on what we desire to grow, even my little ones! I circle everything I would like to try and look and re-look through the pages of each magazine many times over. The reality is though, that with limited space and time, I can’t grow everything I desire to, nor would it really be worth the space in the small area I have to work with. I need to get the most out of what I can plant! Many of you may be avid gardeners, and some may have never tried gardening at all! It really isn’t difficult to garden and doesn’t have to take a tremendious amount of time. There are many factors involved in deciding where to place your garden and what to grow.
Before getting to technical with where to pick your location, what zome you are in, etc… Think about what you enjoy eating. Make a list of the vegetables, herbs and maybe fruits you and your family enjoy the most! Also make a list of flowers that you enjoy (If you are doing a raised bed garden or container garden, flowers can really add alot of character). Then I would catagorize the plants by season; which ones are spring, summer, and then fall plantings. To get the most of your space, succession gardening is the best way to go. You can use the same space to grow spring crops that will be harvested as your summer crops are ready to be planted and then on to fall.
Next I would then narrow down what will grow best to your location. If you are unsure of the Zone you are in, you can find out by going here and selecting your state. Some crops need a much longer time to mature and wouldn’t be the best choice for Northern climates with a shorter growing season. (Such as some Melons, Squash and Potatoes that need close to 100+ days to mature). This information can be found easily usually in the seed catalogs or online, where ever you are looking to purchse your seeds (or in the inforamtion below).
Once you know your Zone you can then find a planting schedule based on the Zone you live in. A planting schedule will help you figure out when eat plant needs to be started indoors or planted outside. and this one also gives the depth that they need to be planted. It is a great tool so you can plan for succession gardening, as you can see what needs to be planted in the spring and then later in the summer!
Here is one I found that I thought was easy to read. They give the information for the quantity of planting for rows, but if you are thinking of doing the square foot gardening method then I will share a really useful tool for that next week, so don’t fret about that.
It is very exciting at the beginning of the season when it is nice and cool to overplan. We all tend to plan a little too large for when the heat of summer kicks in! My suggestion with anyone jsut starting out is to not go to large, don’t try to grow everything! Instead over then next couple of days or week, try to take a look at what your family really enjoys eating. My children could get 1-2 whole cucumbers a day (or more some days) during the summer without skipping a day. We use a lot of canned tomatoes in the winter months for soups and stews so I would really like to put up as many tomatoes as I can. We can easily eat 1 pint of berries in one sitting (my son would eat as many as I would let him). You see what I mean. Try to think about what you really enjoy and make a list of those veggies and fruits as that is what you will want to choose from to grow.
Next week I will share an awesome planning tool for those that are wanting to use raised beds and the Square Foot gardening method. If you haven’t read it yet, I would highly reccommend reading Mel Bartholomew’s book “All New Square Foot Gardening”. It breaks things down step by step for setting up raised beds and the concept of Square Foot gardening to utilize your growing space and maximizing your yield!
To thank-you for taking a few of your precious minutes today to stop by my blog & to celebrate our new growing season, I want to offer a giveaway! Included will be five packets of organic seeds that are from my personal stash of seeds from Seeds of Change (these were received last year directly from their Sowing Millions Project) as well as a 1-Year Subscription to Organic Gardening Magazine!
To enter simply leave a comment below about your gardening plans for 2012! I will use Randorm.org to draw a winner after my next gardening post on Friday, January 20th.
You can receive one additional entry for each of the following (please leave seperate comments for each):
Follow The Frugal Greenish Mama by Email
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Blog about the giveaway and leave the link in the comments below
You can also receive one entry daily by Tweeting about the giveaway using “Enter the #Gardening #Giveaway @FrugalGreenMama” Please leave your link in the comments below.