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Planning your garden

When I start thinking about my garden plans (usually in the cold of winter) I figure out where everything is going to go, and how I am going to do it by asking a serious of questions. (And making an excel spread sheet because I'm that person).

First thing I ask myself is "What do I want to plant this year?".

I make a list of all the things I'm interested in. I pick things for all different kinds of reasons, from "I just want to see if I can do it" to "I want to make jam or wine from it" or, "its pretty"

For example, my list this year includes some of the following:

  • Tomatoes

  • Potatoes

  • Peppers

  • Watermelon

  • Sunflowers

  • Black beans

Now that I have my list, I think about each plant, and ask myself, "What am I going to do with it?"

  • Tomatoes - make ketchup, salsa, & sauce

  • Potatoes - table food

  • Peppers - salsa, and freeze for stir-fry

  • Watermelon - table food .... maybe make some popsicles

  • Sunflowers - see if I can make sunflower Oil

  • Black beans - can them

What I want them for is going to be indicative of how many I need to grow. I've never made sunflower oil before, but I'm willing to bet that I need a whole lot of sunflower seeds to get any useful amount of oil, whereas I only need so many watermelons to be used for table food. So, this brings me to the next question,

"How many am I going to need?"

  • Tomatoes - make ketchup, salsa, & sauce - 10-15 plants

  • Potatoes - table food -4-5 plants

  • Peppers - salsa, and freeze for stir-fry - 6-8 plants

  • Watermelon - table food .... maybe make some popsicles - 2 -3 vines

  • Sunflowers - see if I can make sunflower Oil - 25-50 flowers

  • Black beans - can them - I've never planted them before.... let's try 20

So now I know how many plants I want. That is not however, how many seeds I will plant. I always plan for failure of some sort. If the plant starts indoors and gets transferred outside, whatever number I determined I need, I will plant double that many. The worst thing that can happen is I have extra plants in my garden, or to give to my neighbors. Not all seeds with sprout, so I will need 3 times as many seeds, as the number of plants I am growing.

I will need for my seed order:

  • 15 Tomato plants = 30 seedlings = 90 seeds

  • 5 potato plants - I will put 3 spuds in each bag = 5 bags 15 spuds total

  • 8 peppers = 16 seedlings = 48 seeds

  • 3 watermelon = 3 mounds with 3 seeds each = 9 seeds

  • 50 Sunflowers = 150 seeds (direct sow)

  • 20 Black Beans = 60 seeds (direct sow)

Now that I know how much of everything I need, I place my order for seeds. Once the seeds come, I read all the packages, or go online to find out about each individual plant's requirements. I add this information to my list.

The information that I am looking for is when do I plant them, where do I plant them, and how often should I water them.

  • Tomatoes - Full sun & lots of water - plant early indoors and transfer in late spring

  • Potatoes - shade tolerant - plant in early spring direct sow

  • Peppers - full sun & lots of water - plant early indoors and transfer in late spring

  • Watermelon - Full Sun & Lots of water - plant in late spring direct sow

  • Sunflowers - Full sun - careful to not over water - plant in late spring direct sow

  • Black beans - Full sun & Lots of water- plant in late spring direct sow

Now this gives me a schedule

  • February: Plant Tomatoes and peppers indoors

  • March: Water seedlings, and plan out outdoor garden

  • April: Plant Potatoes outdoors. Start bringing peppers and tomatoes outside during the day to harden off.

  • May: Plant Sunflowers, Watermelon, and black beans. Transfer Peppers and tomatoes.

Understanding the plant requirements, allow me to figure out where they would thrive best. Below is a crude layout of my garden.

I note where there is full sun all day long, and areas that get some shade.

Then add where the irrigation system is, and where the most water is distributed.

I add my plants to it accordingly. Full sun with water for the tomatoes, peppers, watermelon and black beans. Shade tolerance for potatoes. Sun flowers full sun, out of the reach of the irrigation.

I mark where I plant everything on a spread sheet and rotate the plants the following year. I rotate in 2 different groups - partial shade plants, and full sun plants. Everything shifts over 1 spot in its respective category, so no plant will be in the same plot for several years.

How do you plan out your garden?? Comment below!

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