The size of your garden will determine, in part, many aspects of your garden plan. Large gardens may require the use of tilers and other machinery, that can add extra cost into the plan of starting a garden. Small gardens may be worked more easily in small raised beds with footpaths surrounding them. Consideration needs to be given for the material needed to build these raised beds. Do you want it to be a vegetable/produce yielding garden? Or a flower garden? Don’t underestimate the work involved in organic gardening!
Here are a few tips on getting your garden plan going this weekend:
Location is Important
- The garden should have a southern exposure (south side of your home) or be in an open area if at all possible.
- Receive a minimum of six hours of direct sunlight at the chosen location.
- A well-drained site or raised bed garden is ideal. Poor drainage may be improved by regrading, digging ditches, installing a tile drain field, or adding organic matter.
- For convenience, a location near the house is desirable.
- Draw out on paper the location of each row of crop or plant.
- Nearby trees and shrubs may have extensive root systems that may interfere with water and nutrient uptake of plants at your site. Make sure you consider them in the plan– or remove the shrubbery!
- Is a perimeter fencing required to keep wild (deer/raccoons)/domestic animals (dogs) out of your garden? What material will you need to create your fencing?
- Fertility requirements vary with the crop. So, heavy feeders and light feeders may be grouped separately to help manage fertilization.
- Long-season crops such as eggplant, tomato, pepper, and okra should be planted so they don’t interfere with replanting short-season crops such as beans and cole crops.
- Tall-growing crops such as pole beans, tomatoes, and corn should be planted so they don’t shade shorter crops. They will also need support structure as they grow, so be sure to add it in the plan.
- Vegetables can be classed into two broad categories: warm- and cool-season crops. Warm-season crops can be further subdivided into tender and very tender vegetables, and cool-season crops can be subdivided into hardy and half-hardy crops. Very tender crops cannot stand any frost and will not do well under cool nighttime temperatures (below 55Â°F). Tender crops also don’t like frost but can stand cooler night temperatures. Hardy cool-season vegetables can withstand frost and can be grown during the winter in all but the coldest northern parts of Georgia. Half-hardy cool-season vegetables can withstand cool temperatures and light frosts, but hard freezes and heavy frost can be detrimental.
An important part of a good garden plan is record keeping. General information about soil amendments used and weather information (particularly rainfall and first and last frost dates) can be useful, especially when tracked from year to year. Specific information about a particular vegetable can also be helpful for future planning.
Information such as variety selection, planting date, days to harvest, disease, and insect problems should be noted. This data can help you determine which vegetables and varieties are best for your location.
Watering, fertilizing, and any cultural practices should also be recorded. This helps in determining what should be done in the garden from day to day.
Finally, keep track of what is grown where in your garden. This information will help with successive plantings and crop rotation as noted elsewhere in this article.