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Planning Your Garden #1: What’s for dinner?


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One of my goals for this year is filling my freezer and pantry with good foods that have been grown and nurtured in our own backyard.  It sounds easy but a project like this requires a large amount of research, planning, prepping, and maintenance.  Over the years I’ve learned a number of great tips from books, friends, and my own experiences so it seems only fitting that I would share those things here with you.
 
Every Wednesday during the month of March I’ll be writing about a different aspect of planning a garden fit to fill your freezer.
 
We’re starting things off by asking WHAT are we going to grow?
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Picking out your produce without a clear plan is like grocery shopping on an empty stomach, everything looks good.  So before you let the pretty pictures in the catalogs, or the wall of seeds at the store, leave you with more seeds than square footage ask yourself these questions.
  • What does my family REALLY eat?
  • What can be PAINLESSLY added to our diet?
If your family doesn’t eat lettuce why would you grow it?  Don’t waste precious garden space on anything your family will not eat or you don’t already use in your cooking.  That said, if there are vegetables you like but don’t eat on a regular basis, by all means give it a go!  It is possible to be adventurous while still being realistic. The goal of this garden is to feed your family.  If you keep that in mind you can’t go wrong.

Now that you know what you want to grow the real work starts when you ask yourself:
  • Can I grow it? (zone, growth, needs)
Determining your ‘zone’ is only one part of figuring out whether or not you can successfully grow the garden of your dreams.  Backyard Gardeners has a lot of really great information about how zones are important and why you shouldn’t assume just because you’re ‘in’ the zone you’ll be able to grow it.  Ex.  Based on my ‘zone’ I should be able to grow Aspens, yet when I look around, NO ONE is growing Aspens in my part of Missouri.

050Does a plant need full sunlight? Most of my yard spends a small portion of the day in the shade. This means I have to be strategic about where I plant my tomatoes, peppers, and sunflowers.

Is it prone to mold? We have very wet springs and early summers but last year was the first time I experienced actual mold growing in the soil of my garden…it was weird and killed my beans.

Exactly how much space is a squash plant really going to take up? I don’t know about you but I’m always surprised at how large zucchini plants REALLY get!

Becoming knowledgeable on a plant’s growth and needs, from germination to harvest, is important because it will help you plan a garden with yields large enough to feed your family. It is also key to succession planting.

I recommend investing in a book to help you learn more about each plant in your garden plans.  There are many options out there so it’s really your preference.  Of all the books I have my favorite for information about each plant is The Family Kitchen Garden.  I love that it has a month to month section as well as an A to Z guide. 
036Plants are like children, they need you, a lot, but that doesn’t mean they want you to smother them!  Knowledge is the key!  Once you learn what makes your plants grow you can help it reach its full potential…and then, you can eat it. 

Next Wednesday we’ll discuss

Buying Seeds and Plotting Your Garden Layout!

 

 

 

Check out these awesome places I like to share and party, listed on my Linky Party Page!

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Erin Sipes
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