Welcome to our first blog series, fellow garden and homesteading enthusiasts!

Our series will consist of four (4) main posts- these will be posted each Monday from February 2, 2015 through February 23, 2015. We may also be adding some mini posts that correspond with the topics in the series as well! Stay tuned for those!

*Disclaimer: The basic information and tips we provide in this series is based on our own research and planning. By utilizing any information we present here, you agree that Crunchy on the Weekend is not responsible for the success of your own personal gardening endeavors. You should choose the methods that work best for your situation! We are beginner homesteaders and want to provide some basic beginner information to get you thinking about what you want for your own garden!*

Also, don’t forget to enter our giveaway to win an 8-10 packet seed collection and 2015 Whole Seed Catalog from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds- the giveaway ends Saturday, February 14, 2015!

In this first post, we will be addressing the PLANNING aspect of getting your garden ready for this year!

Now, you could easily skip the planning aspect of your springtime gardening, however, you will most likely run into a plethora of problems by doing so. Some problems that could arise include:

  • Forgetting necessary items or getting the wrong items (soil, seeds, containers, etc.)
  • Having to make several trips to acquire the items needed for your garden (see above reason!)
  • Not researching what types of seeds/food you want to purchase and grow which could result in failed crops due to:
    • climate/moisture issues
    • incorrect planting layout issues
      • planting seeds too far apart or too close together
      • planting seeds too deep in the soil
    • planting some seeds outside when they should be planted inside first, then, transplanted outside
  • Not researching the growth patterns of the seeds you are planting (what the sprouts look like for example), thinking they are weeds, and yanking them out- oops!

Long story short, if you want a successful garden this year, planning it out will be a huge help!

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Let’s start by looking at WHAT you want to grow!

Choosing what plants to grow can be overwhelming, especially if you are new to gardening. There are so many choices and so many varieties of plants! You may be tempted to buy one packet of everything because it all looks so good! You may be tempted to buy seeds for something that you’ve never even liked eating just because you can grow it yourself! These will be your biggest traps and will make your gardening experience less than ideal.

Our biggest piece of advice?

Buy what you will LIKE TO EAT. If you hate squash, don’t buy it to plant. It will go to waste and take up valuable garden real estate! If you hate green beans, don’t buy the seeds! If you love carrots and eat them on a regular basis, buy the seeds! If you love lettuce and eat salad every day, buy those seeds! See where we’re going with this?

You also do not want to plant so many things to the point that you can’t keep up with maintenance. If you have 25 types of plants, you might as well camp out in your garden because you won’t have time for anything else.

Choose wisely and know that you will have to devote time out of your normal schedule to tend to your garden- it won’t take care of itself :)

Another important thing to remember is what you have the ability to grow. You may love eating watermelon in the summer, but, do you have the space to grow those melons? You may love fresh corn, but, do you have the space to grow a larger crop like that? When you are planning your garden, make sure you consider your surroundings. You may have to alternate your crops each year and grow different things so you can enjoy the things you love most!


Next, let’s discuss HOW you want to plant everything, along with some information about each option.

There are many options depending on where you live and how much space you have for your garden. Don’t be discouraged or think you can’t have a garden if you live in a tiny space- everyone can homestead and garden! You might just have to get creative! :)

Some options you have for planting your garden goodies are RAISED BEDS, IN-GROUND, CONTAINERS, and URBAN ROOF TOP.

  • Raised Beds
    • This option will use garden beds that are above ground and use soil separate from ground soil
    • You can find TONS of plans and directions online and in books at your local library- you can make your beds as simple or as intricate as you’d like!
      • Pro- These types of beds are relatively simple to make with basic tools and skills
      • Pro- You can design them to be as big or as small as you would like
      • Pro- They help deter pets and pests from bothering your plants since the beds are elevated
      • Con- Requires more work ahead of time before you can begin planting anything
      • Con- If your garden bed is large, it may be difficult to move it if you decide a different location is better
      • Con- Raised beds can become costly depending on the materials and size you choose to use
      • Con- Due to being off the ground, the soil and whatever is planted in these will freeze sooner than anything planted directly in the ground, although this problem can be mitigated by only planting warm weather crops in them
    • In-Ground
      • This option will be used to plant your seeds directly into the ground soil
        • Pro- By planting your seeds directly in the ground, you will save time and money since you won’t be building any beds
        • Pro- You will be able to use as much space as you have available to create a custom garden layout
        • Con- By having your plants at ground level, they could be more susceptible to pests and pets bothering them
        • Con- If you decide the location of your plants isn’t working, you cannot just pick up and move them easily
      • Container
        • This option will use various sizes of containers to plant your seeds in
          • Eventually, you may transplant your seedlings into the ground depending on space and the type of plant (some plants may not survive/thrive long-term in a container)
          • Pro- You can start your seeds indoors and keep your ‘garden’ indoors if you do not have available space outdoors
          • Pro- You can get your seeds off to an earlier start by starting them in containers indoors, and then later, transplanting them into the ground or beds later
          • Con- If you live in a smaller space, keeping many containers may not be feasible
          • Con- If you are keeping your garden inside, you may not be able to successfully keep some plants if you have limited sunlight
        • Urban Roof Top* (*only if you live in a space where you have an accessible roof top that you can legally use for your own purposes)
          • This option will use roof top space to place your containers and/or raised beds
            • Pro- The location will deter most animal pests since they will be unable to reach your garden
            • Pro- Lots of sunlight!
            • Con- Lots of sunlight and limited shade- may not be good for certain plants
            • Con- No ground soil available so you will need to build raised beds or use containers for your garden goodies

 

Let’s look at the PLANNING aspect again- what do you need to buy and/or build?

Tip: Reuse as much as you can! Do you have scrap lumber lying around? That could be perfect to build those garden beds! Do you have a friend with tons of 5-gallon buckets? Maybe they’ll give them to you to plant some of your seeds in! Reusing materials and saving money is always a good thing!

Are you planning on ordering seeds from a seed company? If so, Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company is your best bet for the highest quality and best price of heirloom seeds. You can consult their ‘2015 Whole Seed Catalog’ which features every seed you could possibly imagine- it’s amazing! If you don’t want to have to pay for the Whole Seed Catalog, they also offer a free version that you can request from their website (rareseeds.com). Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to order your seeds and have them shipped to you.

Are you planning on buying your seeds from a local store? Make sure you have done your research ahead of time so you aren’t overwhelmed in the store. You don’t want your garden prep to be this terrible, time-consuming mess. You should have fun but still be organized!

Are you building anything for your garden? Raised beds? Garden boxes? A trellis? Make sure you research beforehand and know what materials you will need so you can make one or two big trips versus 10 little trips. It is also a good idea to take a copy of your plans with you in case you need to reference them. Also, make sure you know what your plants will need. For example, while some varieties of beans will grow in a bush, others will need some kind of trellis or fence for them to grow onto.

Are you planning on adding in some extra features such as an irrigation system? You can have simple systems consisting of merely a soaking hose or more elaborate systems such as drip irrigation or sprinklers on timers; however, you’ll need materials no matter what. Research what will work best for your setup so you aren’t going overboard or skimping on the necessary materials.

Bottom line- stay organized and mindful of your budget, space, and plans. The point of homesteading and gardening is to make it worth your while. You don’t want to spend your hard-earned dollars and have half of your crops go to waste because of poor planning. Research, plan, organize- it will save you time, money, and frustration!

For more ideas and information, check out the following sites and books!

Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company
http://www.rareseeds.com

Homesteading- A Backyard Guide 2nd Edition
Edited by Abigail R. Gehring
ISBN: 978-1-62914-366-8


Coming up next- mini post on…

COMPANION PLANTS: Harmful and Helpful Tools For Your Home Garden!
A quick look into companion plants that you can use alongside your crops to help with quality, growth, and pest control!


Spring Garden Series- Companion Plants

Spring Garden Series- Choosing Your Seeds

 

dorian@crunchyontheweekend