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Planning the Garden


Choosing a location for your garden is the most important step in the garden planning process.

  • Most fruiting vegetables need at least 6 to 8 hours of sunlight for best growth.
  • Leafy vegetables like spinach and lettuce will grow with less sunlight.
  • Choose a location as far away as possible from trees and shrubs.
  • The roots of nearby trees and shrubs will compete and rob your vegetables of needed nutrients and water.
  • Good soil with good drainage is needed. Have your soil tested before you start gardening to determine if your soil is lacking any needed nutrients.
  • Be sure your water source is close by.


Keep a Garden Journal

Keep a journal of your activities in the garden. Keep a list of the varieties of vegetables grown. Record seeding and planting dates, insect and disease problems, weather and harvest dates and yields. This information will be valuable as you plan future gardens. 


What To Grow

Gardeners tend to go overboard with seed ordering after viewing all the colorful garden catalogs with their beautiful pictures of veggies. Need help understanding the catalog lingo? Read this blog.

While we love to grow lots of plants, ordering too much seed may find you sneaking zucchini in neighbors' open windows.

Grow what your family likes to eat. If you are just getting started, stay away from hard to grow veggies like cauliflower. Get a couple successes under your belt. Not only does successful gardening improve your moral, it helps you get to know your garden soil, site, and how much work you can dedicate to growing vegetables.

Heirloom vegetables are traditional crops passed down across generations. Many gardeners tout heirlooms as better tasting but more difficult to grow. A first-time gardener may consider growing hybrid vegetables.

Hybrid vegetables are usually stronger and healthier than other vegetables. They often have higher yields. Many have a built-in disease resistance, and they are more likely to recover from bad weather. Hybrids may cost a little bit more than other types of vegetables, but the cost is worth it.

If you save seeds, remember that hybrids do not reproduce true to type, meaning the new plant will be inferior to the mother plant. In the past, hybrids were considered to have poor flavor compared to heirlooms, but today many breeders have begun selecting hybrids based on taste along with disease resistance and vigor.

Consider vegetables that have earned the All-America Selections award. All-America Selections is an organization that has been evaluating new vegetable varieties in trial and display gardens across the United States and Canada since 1933. Each year after the evaluations have been analyzed a number of the most outstanding vegetables are designated as All-America Selections, indicating that they performed well under all types of conditions.