Only 17 more days until spring. It can not come soon enough. I am so freaking tired of snow, and cold, and mud. I am ready for weather that I don’t have to break ice 3 times a day, or refill rabbit bottles all day long.
So, I’ve been looking at seed catalogs and planning my garden. I’ve changed the design multiple times, the placement has changed and the well, everything has been moved. I can’t make up my mind. I have so much that I want to plant that I get overwhelmed. When do I plant, where do I plant, how do I plant and even why do I plant?
Pinterest has been my friend. I use it for everything. I am so lame, and lazy. I like looking at stuff other people have done and kind of making it my own. So I have all these ideas, and so much stuff to do, but first I have to decide why I am doing this.
The easiest answer of course is to feed my family. We eat a lot of veggies. Have you seen the price of food lately? Holy crap. We can easily spend $150 a week and that’s with out meat. I also want to help other people (this garden better do well!). How am I going to do that? Farmers markets, selling to local restaurants, hopefully the website when I can get it all together.
So how much food does that mean I need to plant? What do we eat? I don’t want to grow a bunch of food for other people that we wouldn’t eat ourselves. I found this chart, that is based on per person, but am trying to adjust it to our family. We don’t eat turnips, and already have our asparagus beds established. To be honest, 5 tomato plants just doesn’t seem like a lot to me. That chart is for a family of four and we have 5, but Danny and dad burn a lot of calories at work so they eat a little more…we have to account for that. In order to have any to can and sell, we have to bump that number up. We use tomatoes for salsa, to can stewed tomatoes, for soup, and so on. There is probably a different chart out there somewhere. Or a mathematical way of doing this, but I suck at math. I say those 5 plus another 5 plants (at least, it depends on how much you want to sell) staggered planting to have some for sell throughout the season (Some of this is guess work. Some of our family doesn’t eat tomatoes, or onions or squash, so we may have a lot of extra stuff. We can always can or sell it). This goes on for each vegetable we want to plant.
However, we don’t want to plant to much. Sometimes, it is frustrating trying to figure all this out. For a beginner, I would just start with one or two plants. You don’t want to get halfway through the season and just kind of let your garden go (we have done that!).
The how and the where are tied together. Vegetables like to have at least 6 hours of light, and you want to plant your rows east to west. This is obviously the way the sun travels the sky. It keeps tall plants from shading short ones so much that they don’t get any sunlight. You’ll need a space that offers the ability to plant your rows that way, and one big enough to plant all your veggies. You don’t have to plant your whole garden in one spot. If you have more plants than space, you can plant elsewhere.
Ideally, you want your garden close to a water source, preferably an outdoor spigot. This year I plan on running pvc pipes through my raised beds so that I can just attach a hose to water my plants. You don’t want to be hauling buckets of water back and forth (ask me how I know!), but it’s an option.
I cheat. I buy plants. I can’t wait to grow the seeds, and I don’t have a lot of room right now to put a bunch of seedlings. You can choose either way. I’m not going to tell you which way is better, because I don’t know. I know that seeds don’t work for me, but they might for you. Do you want them in the ground or raised beds or containers? You are the only person who knows the right way to do your garden. Last year we had ours in the ground, conveniently where the goats are now. I got tired of pulling so many damn weeds. I hate that job. So this year, I am doing raised beds, where hopefully the weeds will be less since I can afford the covering to keep weeds out.
Here in Kansas, we are mostly in zone 6b….on the farm we are right on the border of 6b and 7 according to the USDA plant hardiness map . That just means the plants that are marked for these zones are more likely to grow well here. Our last freeze is usually the middle of May, which is when we can start planting outdoors. There are charts and such that can tell you what to plant and when depending on where you live. You can contact the Extension office for your county for more information on planting and what to plant for where you live. These people are gold when you need help for anything! Use this resource!
I really hope that this helps you plan your garden! What is your favorite way to plan your garden? Are you ready for spring?