Small Homestead

Life on a small homestead

Small Homestead header image 2

10 Steps To Planning A Vegetable Garden

February 9th, 2009 · No Comments

We are going to have a fairly large garden this year as we hope to feed 4 separate families.  While Randy has had a large garden in the past, I have not and the seed ordering is part of my job.   The following list is the steps I will be following to help make sure that we plant enough of what we need and can plan to reuse some of the garden for a fall crop.

  1. Obviously the first step is to decide what we want to grow in our garden.  Some things are a given such as tomatoes but others are not quite as obvious.  Do we want to plant peas?  What about Kale?  I am making a list based on everyone’s eating habits.  I don’t want to grow a garden of collards and kale and find that only one person will eat them.
  2. The next step is to decide how large a garden we will need.  Because we are feeding 9 people, the garden will have to be a good size one and we are lucky enough to have a fairly good size plot.  I also like to use edible landscaping so there will be herbs and some vegetables among the flowers.
  3. Once we have decided how large a spot we have to work with, I can start to determine how many rows or plants we need and what we can reuse.  Some early spring plants such as lettuce and spinach, can be replanted for summer plants such as green peppers and tomatoes.  There is an automated spreadsheet here that can help to determine how much seed you need to purchase to feed a family.
  4. When are we going to plant which vegetables?  This will depend on what the estimated last frost date for your area is and you can look that up at most of the seed companies.  There is also a spreadsheet to help calculate when to plant and when you should be harvesting at the link above.  Remember that once the vegetables have finished and you have harvested them, you can replant that area in vegetables for the fall.
  5. What tools do you need?  This is highly dependent on the size and type of garden you are going to have.  If you are going to be using a square foot garden, you will need the bare minimum of tools  such as a spade.  A small home garden might require a tiller and a really large garden might be better off with a garden tractor and a tiller.  I personally have a used garden tractor on my wish list.
  6. How are you going to enrich the soil?  Will you use commercial fertilizer or do you have a compost source?  We will be using a variety of compost sources.  The animals on the farm provide quite a bit of compost and I add household compost to it for variety.  If you want to compost and you aren’t on the farm, you can make a composter or buy one from a garden store.
  7. Controlling pests and weeds.  Again, this is a personal choice and there are many different options.  Organic gardeners have found that companion plantings can help repel pests.  Marigolds are one flower that will not only help beautify your garden but will also repel common garden pests.  Garlic is another.
  8. Irrigation.  While we don’t water the garden on a regular basis, there are times when the garden soil has to be kept moist.  Seeds and seedlings need to be kept moist for the first few weeks.  Make sure that your garden hose will reach the garden if you plan on using it.  Another method of watering the garden is to keep a rain barrel or two.  Water can be dipped out of the barrel and used on the plants.
  9. Preservation.  Another factor when you are deciding on how much to plant is to decide whether you are going to can or freeze the extra produce.  If you want to have garden vegetables through the winter, you will need to increase the amount that you plant.
  10. Time.  How much time do you have to give to your garden?  If you work 10 hours a day, 6 days a week at a regular job, are you really going to have enough time to devote to a large garden?  Perhaps a square foot garden or even a container garden would be a better choice.  These two types of garden are less time intensive as it only takes a moment to water, weed, plant and harvest them.

I have found that gardening is a pleasure.  It is one of the most rewarding hobbies I have ever had and in these tough economic times, it can pay off by taking a huge chunk out of your grocery bill.

Do you have a garden?  Have you started planning it this year?

Be Sociable, Share!

Tags: Gardening

0 responses so far ↓

  • There are no comments yet...Kick things off by filling out the form below.

Leave a Comment