I think Spring has finally decided to make an appearance! Which it means I can comfortable start thinking about my garden. I have prematurely planned all winter in anticipation but I can now make a final draft of my plans! I wanted to share a bit about my process and lessons to help anyone who is interested at giving gardening a go this year. You have plenty of time to set a plan and have a successful garden this year!
I have had my two raised beds for three years now and each year I have learned something that made the next even better. My raised beds are 8'x4' and they are 2' deep and filled with top soil. Raised beds are not necessary for gardening but they provide a nice boundary to reduce weeds in with my produce.
I use a method called square foot gardening. (Thank you Kelly!) You can find all kinds of information about it on Pinterest or in a Google search. In essence square foot gardening is sectioning off your plot into to square foot sections and planting as many plant as recommended in that space. Each type of plant has a different recommendation, you can plant 16 carrots in a square foot but only 1 tomato plant.
I then make a 8x4 grid on a piece of paper and plan out where I would like things to go. How many tomato plants I'd like and where I want to plant them in my beds. At this stage I need to take into consideration how tall things get, when they will be ready to be harvested and what grows well together (companion planting). I keep my tomatoes on the perimeter so they are easy to access but someone might want to put them on the interior so they don't overshadow shorter plants. It's all about preference.
I then count how many squares I have of each plant and how many plants I will need. Example: if I have 5 squares of carrots that's 5x16 (per square foot)= 80 carrot seeds. This helps me when it comes time to shop to know how much of each plant I need to buy.
Now I wait... I typically have my plan and shopping list done in February. This anticipation kills me. I won't plant typically until Mothers Day but ever now and then I'll risk putting a few things in the ground sooner.
Now let me share some random things I have learned along the way.
- Planting garlic in May is a no no. That needs to go into the ground way earlier. Don't waste your money.
- Bush Beans are the crop of the Lord. I have never had one single issue with Bush beans and they are the most low maintenance and forgiving crop around.
- Assess your bug situation. Some plants need pollinators to produce fruit. I have a hard time growing zucchini and cucumbers because we don't have enough bees.
- Be prepared and excited for failure. Your garden will probably never be perfect! Failure is where we learn. I love experimenting and trying new crops each year. They joy is in the risk and the reward.
I'd love to hear what tips you have learned in you time as gardener. Or what fear you have in starting a garden. Share in the comments below!