One of the best ways to ensure your family is eating healthy food is to grow it yourself. This is the perfect time of year to plan out your garden, and make sure everything is ready to go in the spring. Brew some coffee or tea, find a cozy spot in your home, and have a notebook and pen ready to make your plan. As you decide what to grow, here are a few things to consider.
- What do you eat the most? For our family, it’s salad greens and tomatoes. Squash is unfortunately very low on the list, so I won’t be using very much precious space for them. Green beans are well-liked, but I don’t cook them as often as I should—they will be a perfect experiment.
- Remember what zone you live in. Plants have different requirements, so make sure you are working with your region’s climate rather than against it. Also, be sure to look up your last frost date for the year. Seed packets or plants use this date as a guideline.
- Consider size and place. If you have only a covered patio to start your garden, look up container gardening and find plants that prefer shade. On the other hand, if you have lots of space, remember to start small. You can always add more plants next year, but it’s much easier to expand in the future than to tackle an overgrown garden in the middle of July.
- Decide whether you will start from seed or buy plants. Of course, seeds are less expensive in the long run but you have to plan far ahead. I live in a southern zone, and will start some of my seeds this week in cardboard egg containers.
After you think about all this, it’s time to plot out where your plants will go. For me, old fashioned pen and paper help me plan the most clearly. Gardeners Supply Company has an excellent guide for planning your garden, with all the essentials. Look around there website—they have all the information you will need.
While I think canning, drying herbs, and a completely self-sustained homestead is excellent, it is not possible for our family right now. Perhaps one day, when our children are old enough to help with the garden chores, we can expand our endeavor. For now, I do the best I can with what we have. We may have a salad with a single garden tomato and store-bought greens mixed in, but that’s still more homegrown produce than nothing. Don’t let standards of perfection make you give up on getting started!
A garden allows you to work with your hands, spend time in the sunshine, and provide high-quality food for your family. It is productive, delightful work. Sow your seeds, and reap the rewards!