Planning a Garden
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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?
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.
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.
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.
Some handy links that will be helpful for beginning to plan your garden:
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.
I can’t wait to have my own garden! Love this post!
I am looking forward to gardening some this year; a much smaller scale than in the past, but excited anyway. =) We will be starting from scratch only being a week into our new home. My sweet hubby is going to help me make a few raised beds. Your pics have truly helped foster my spring fever!
Great tips Amy… and I love the snap of your garden guard dog!
Me too. Though my dog is more likely to eat some of my veggies than protect them!
I love the doggie picture, too. We love our garden and the fruits of our labor. I will say by early Fall (when soccer season hits) our poor garden is neglected. 🙁 For now we have cold crops planted already, lettuce growing in our AeroGarden, and … tah-dah … 24 new strawberry plants to go in the ground tomorrow. I like how my husband and I work together. Actually, a lot of conversation of gardening, what to plant, how to change it up, the herbs, etc. – takes place between us! Always love your splendid photography, Amy! Can’t wait for more …
For many years after moving into our current home I was blessed with a ton of bounty from my veggie garden each year bur alas, our trees have grown to almost completely block out the sun. No more tomatoes for me. On the plus side, we have gorgeous trees! I seriously miss gardening.
Your pup is so cute. My Newfie would be in the middle of the garden, running around like her tail is on fire 🙂
The Master Gardener classes sound fabulous. Last year we started a sort of container garden which I’m hoping to transition to a sq foot garden this year — and then want to get our bigger garden behind our barn growing something other than weeds as well!
I actually host a <a href="http://www.noordinaryhomestead.com/category/sustainable-living/in-the-garden/garden-life-link-up/" weekly gardening link up every Friday on my blog. I’d love for you to drop by and join in.
Drat. I totally messed up that link 🙂 I must need more coffee! http://www.noordinaryhomestead.com/category/sustainable-living/in-the-garden/garden-life-link-up/
Such great links and tips, Amy! You know that you are now my personal go-to person for gardening advice, don’t ya? This year, I plan to scale WAY back on our garden and not have such big plans in the late winter and early spring that translate to total burnout by July. 🙂
I have plant on the brain!!! I cannot wait until its warm enough to start! First come veggies, then canning!!!!
When it comes to flower garden landscaping you want to make sure you create a beautiful place for you to enjoy not to mention a place that visitors will brag on!
This is such a helpful post. I’m not really a gardener, but I’m hoping to start an herb garden this summer. I use so many herbs in my cooking, and I love the flavor of homegrown!
Congrats on committing to be a MG, I have for some time now and greatly enjoy helping others while doing what I love. Check into square foot gardening by Mel Bartholemew. Less space, waste and most of all weeding. Happy gardening! Great photos
I am so excited for you! I can’t wait to see what all you learn. Last year I had to forgo my garden due to my work schedule so I am very excited to get my hands dirty this year. DS doesn’t know it yet but I’m redesigning the whole thing. It needs some structure and flow ;D
I just ordered my seeds a few weeks ago. I’m so excited to start the garden!
Last year, I dug up my front yard to grow veggies, but it doesn’t get enough light and warmth to grow much. So I’m going to be building some cold frames out of antique windows (and painting them to match the color of our porch so they don’t look like eyesores) and try to grow some lettuces and herbs there, with wildflowers between the boxes. Everything else will go in the back!
Great tips and photos. I absolutely can’t wait for gardening seasoning here!
Yeah Amy!! I was just wondering last week if you had been able to take this class…something you were wishing for last year at BSP. How wonderful! I am going to have to keep up with you and your tips, so maybe I can turn my somewhat dark colored gardening thumb a little green 🙂 Have FUN!!
Chives – I need chives! My dad and hubby built me a raised bed this weekend and I’m excited to try it out.
I wish we were neighbors… I’d love to learn side by side with you. I’m so clueless when it comes to gardening. I have a small potted herb garden each year and that’s it.
I wish we were too! We could learn together. I think like everything in life, gardening is trial and error, observing, and growing through experience.
Oh, wow! I ended up here quite by happenstance today but am tickled pink to find such a beautiful blog close to home. I’m a MG from just over the border in NC, but my family all comes from upstate SC. My grandaddy (a Clemson grad) had big beautiful fig bushes that I have heard legends of but never got to taste…one day, one day I shall have my own!
Yes! A fig tree! Do it! I am trying to scheme as to how I can plant an avocado tree in Texas. A girl can dream…
I live in northwestern PA. It was a considerably mild winter this year. I have started sweet peas and sugar snap peas. It is such a thrill to see them coming up. It is “free therapy” I highly recommend it. There is nothing more satisfying than watching yhour seeds sprout.