Whether you have moved to a new home, are just starting to garden or you just want to expand your garden space, here are four things to think about when planning your new space.
Where is the sun?
This one may seem obvious, but it’ s one thing that is so obvious it can be overlooked. The sun is a food source for your plants and although they may survive under certain sun conditions they will not thrive. Take some time to watch where the sun and shadows fall throughout the day before deciding exactly where you would like your garden. For a vegetable garden and many flower varieties you will want to choose a space that gets full sun. That means 6-8 hours of sunlight a day.
Although the sun is essential,shade is not always a bad thing. If parts of your garden will be shaded in the certain parts of the day that could be a perfect place for some plants that prefer a little break from the sun in the heat of the day.
What’s going on in the soil?
A common mistake new gardeners make is believing that dirt and soil are the same thing. I know I thought like this first summer we gardened and learned quickly that there is a huge difference. A garden full of dirt instead of soil will leave you with frail plants with weak root systems and all your hard work will leave you with that proverbial $300 tomato.
It’s important to take time to look at what kind of soil you have and what would be needed to amend that soil. In some cases it’s best to put in raised beds, or choose a no dig method because the soil is just too far gone to be simply amended during the set up.
Regardless of the method you choose remember that the soil is where your plants will find their nutrients and living soil will provide more than just plain dirt.
What type of garden do you want?
When trying to decide what type of garden you would like think about how it will be used. Are you wanting a small kitchen garden that allows you to pick fresh daily for your meals? Or are you thinking more of a large market garden that allows you to put up enough food to sustain you through the winter?
If you hope to be in and out of the garden throughout the day picking a tomato here and squash there you will want your garden close to the house so you can easily pop out and grab what looks ready to be eaten. If you hope to go out daily and do large harvest a garden farther from the house is fine. Remember we only tend to visit gardens that we think about and the closer the garden is to your house the more you will think about it.
Proximity to the house
There is a reason why our social media is full or morning walks through the garden with coffee, it’s because these walks are completely necessary in order to have a thriving garden . Even though plants don’t really need you to grow, you do need to be there to nip problems in the bud (pun 100% intended).
You need to walk through your garden several times a day, observing the plants so when something starts to go wrong you can fix it before it spreads and causes problems. Because of the amount of time you will be spending in the garden, you will want to choose a spot you can easily access and don’t dread heading to 2-3 times a day.
My garden for example is lined up along our side fence and begins at the gate we use every day to leave the yard. This allows me to do a quick inspection every time I leave the house or come home. It also leads to the back deck where I can easily do a more intentional visit and do a longer walk through in the mornings and evenings and still hear the goings on of breakfast or after dinner chores.
Even though this time in the garden is maybe a short 20-30 minutes total over the course of the day, they would not happen if my garden where in a community garden space or even at the other end of our small yard where I rarely need to visit. We are creatures of habit and comfort and the farther away something is, the less likely we are to visit it so choose a spot you want to visit because you will be there often.
The winter months provide a perfect opportunity to dream about the next summer’s garden. Using these 4 steps you can plan a garden that will not only thrive but become a space where you can find peace and joy in your work.
Other Gardening posts you may enjoy:
What to do in your garden in February
Why are garden walks so important?