Planning a Garden

Few things in life are quite as satisfying as planting something, and watching it sprout and grow. Plus with dirt on my hands, and the sun on my back I’ve found that gardening is the closest thing to free therapy around, not to mention the benefit of fresh vegetables, herbs, or flowers. A fresh tomato sandwich in the summertime is the perfect reward I say.

Currently I’m taking a Master Gardening class at Clemson University, so I’ve got gardening on the brain right now. I’m hoping that I can tame my compulsive tomato plant buying habit this year, and grow a manageable, more simple, practical garden for our family’s needs. A big focus will be on the herb garden. I want to expand it a bit as it’s the bulk of what I use from our garden year round. Plus they’re so easy to grow, with very little attention needed.

Aren’t chives just lovely? And thyme too?

Planning a Garden

In addition to planning the vegetable and herb garden, I’ll be prepping new spaces for a grouping of peonies, as well as a spot for a fig tree later in the fall.

Planning a Garden

Last summer I was blessed with a basket full of figs from my friend Rosemary’s productive tree, so I’ve been narrowing down the perfect home for one in our yard. I can’t wait! We’ll have a fig fest before long, I just know it.

Planning a Garden

While I know thinking ahead to those warm gardening months seems far and away, dust off those garden shoes, because now is the time to begin planning and preparing for a garden.

Here are just a few things to consider when planning a garden:

  • Soil: Knowing your soil may be the single most important aspect of gardening. I would highly recommend spending a few dollars and getting a soil test done through your local agricultural extension office. A little time and money now can save lots of time and money later on. Unfortunately, the soil sample test you can find in home improvement stores aren’t necessarily all that thorough. Check with your local/state extension office, with the link provided below. Where I submit my soil tests, I can even list a few of the plants I’d like to grow in that area, with recommendations then given for specifics that will be needed for particular plants, which is pretty handy dandy.
  • Zone:  In the United States each region is broken into growing zones, which gives you a good general rule of thumb to know what will grow properly in each area. Check you zone with the link provided below. Keep in mind that even within zones, conditions can differ.
  • Sun: You’ll need to consider how much sun your garden area gets, especially if you’re planning for vegetables. While vegetables are a bit hard to grow without a good amount of sun, there are so many options for wonderful shade loving plants.
  • Water: Assess the water conditions of your garden area. It may seem wet now, but mid-summer does it dry out? Be able to plan ahead on how you’ll water your garden if needed. Hardy, drought tolerant varieties are good to consider if watering will be an issue. Also, if you can use rain run-off from a roof or a driveway it’s a win-win.

One final tip, keep it simple. Less is best. A garden should be a happy place, a form of free therapy, not a headache.

Knowing these few things, soil, zone, sun, water, (and keeping it simple) you’ll be able to have a better idea of what plants will do best for your garden. Just like most areas in life, trial and error play a big part in gardening, but if you do your homework before hand, those errors will be fewer and far between.

Planning a Garden

Some handy links that will be helpful for beginning to plan your garden:

USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map

USDA Cooperative Extension Offices Nationwide (this is who will help you with information on getting a soil sample test done)

American Horticultural Society Master Gardener Information

American Horticultural Society General Gardening Links/Resources


How about you, do you have any gardening preparation tips to share? What about a gardening book or resource? Are you thinking about a new variety to grow this year? Do share.