For many years I’ve known when I owned a home I would have a garden. I became a homeowner a year (and one week, but who’s counting?!?) ago, just in time to rake a crazy amount of leaves. As soon as the snow was off the ground this spring, I began to plan my garden and once frost was over, I dug in, but early fall is the perfect time to start planning your garden for next year. Start today by seeing how and when the sun is in your yard to decide what types of plants might work best, and thinking about what you would want to grow to eat this time next year. See the “Gardening Tips” bullet points below for more tips and the USDA website for more info.
Previously I have tried container gardening with no success, as in figuring out the exact moment the basil plant won’t survive and taking off all the leaves to break even on the plant. I know the soil is better in the upper Midwest than it would be in the sandy ground of Florida, but I didn’t know what to expect. What I ended up with is an embarrassment of riches. It’s getting to the point that I keep watching the weather and I know I’m going to run out of time (typical plant hardiness zone 4B issues, I tell ya!) before it starts to frost and I’ll still have green tomatoes and other plants producing.
Very soon I’ll be picking a lot of green tomatoes and grabbing the potted herbs and bringing them all indoors to salvage what I can. Check back Monday as I give tips on what to do with a large bounty at the end (or anytime) during the season when the produce is coming faster than can be consumed and to preserve for the colder months.
- Once you figure out what you want to grow, find out how much space to leave and how big the plant will get.
- See what amount of sunlight each plant needs and if your garden will provide it
- Once you know these two things, see if what you want to grow is still realistic with the size and location of your garden.
- Build what you need. Fencing that animals can’t get through is good. Next year I’m going to add a trellis on one side for the yellow pear tomatoes that are up to 10 feet tall.
- Build your garden in a way that you can still reach the ground to weed and pick produce. I’m going to add a paved path in the middle of my garden next year to walk through the middle.
- Add dirt, if needed, and till the garden to make it easier to plant and for the roots to grow.
- Buy any supplies you might need (tools; fencing; watering items; fertilizer; twine, cages or poles for growing; etc.).
- Plant in pots what can—or should—be kept on its own, especially plants that spread and creep, are made to be hanging plants, or would be better to be oved to more/less sunlight.
- I was told by a longtime gardener it’s not really worth starting from seedlings because the space/time/items needed aren’t often worth the return.
- Rotate crops year to year to maintain the soil.
- Trim back/prune branches as they begin to grow so they don’t get out of control and to get healthy, bountiful produce.
- Water and drain as recommended for the plant
- If a plant is on its last leg, give it some love with water and plant food. One tomato plant came back that way.
As mentioned above, my next post will be about what to do with all the harvest.
If you have gardened, what tips would you pass along to first-timers?
If you want to have your first garden, what else would you like to know about?