06 Mar Garden Planning – Step 1: Assess Your Growing Space
MC Garden Planning Series
Welcome to our garden prep series!
If you are a new or first-time gardener, spring can be a little overwhelming, with lots of decisions to make in order to get ready for planting. But no worries – we’re here to help.
Every week we will be giving you some advice on how to create your spring garden strategy. By the time this series is over, both you and your garden will be good to grow!
Planning your garden is crucial to ensuring you maximize your space, effort and time, along with giving you those springtime feels while we wait for the weather to turn. First off, we’ll start with assessing your growing space.
Assessing Growing Space – Better Known as Location, Location, Location
Perhaps you already have an area designated for gardening but it’s still good to reflect on these things so you can make sure your space has the requirements for the plants you want to grow. If you are new to gardening, it will be good to consider carefully before you dedicate an area for growing.
Here are some simple questions to ask yourself:
- What is the size of your space?
- Can you plant in the ground, do you have raised beds, or will you be using containers?
- How much sunlight does your garden area get?
- Which direction is the sun going?
- Does your garden have easy access to a water source?
- Is there a garden hose hookup nearby?
- Have you considered rainwater harvesting
- digging swales on contour to catch rainfall – https://www.permaculturenews.org/2015/07/24/how-to-build-a-swale-on-contour-successfully/
- Rain barrels catching from gutters
- Montgomery County suggests rain barrels from http://www.camels-hump.com/
The size of your garden will determine what will grow best in your space.
If you are limited on space or container gardening, plants that grow tall are best; think tomatoes, peppers, and beans.
If you have a large plot of land, plants that grow wild and viney like melons, cucumbers, and squash will thrive. If you have a few raised beds, you can do a mix of plants. You can also maximize space and biodiversity through companion plantings (more on this in step 3)
The location of your garden also affects how much sunlight your plants will get. Will the location get all day sun, or perhaps just a few hours in the morning or afternoon? If you’re still working from home, take advantage and track how much sun your ideal garden area is getting. It will change slightly as we move into longer days, but it will give you a good baseline.
Tracking sun exposure is important because plants have different growing requirements. Many of our favorite fruits and veggies, like tomatoes, squash, and peppers, thrive with tons of sun. Leafy greens however, like spinach and lettuce, do better with periods of shade. There are a few apps that will help you determine the direction of the sun. One of our favs is called Sun Seeker for iPhone and Android.
Lastly, access to water is crucial. While Mother Nature gives does her part, your garden will likely need your help throughout the season. If you have easy access to water through a hose or spigot near your garden, this should be no problem.
It’s suggested to water your garden once a day at dawn during the spring and fall. During the heat of the summer, you can water for a longer duration at dawn, or water once in the morning and in the late afternoon after the midday heat. If there isn’t a close water source to your planting area, it will be best to consider planting things that do better with drier soil like legumes and cruciferous plants. You will still have to lug water out to them, just not on the daily.
Stay tuned for next week when we walk you through plant selection. And remember, like our plant friends, we all do things a little differently, absorb at different rates and need different nourishment and encouragement to thrive. So don’t stress about getting it right – just grow where you’re planted. 😉