Vegetable Garden Planning

Posted by on Sep 10, 2015 in Grow Better Greens Podcast | Comments Off on Vegetable Garden Planning

Today we’re talking about vegetable garden planning and about how to wrap up one gardening season and seamlessly start in on the next. As you tidy up your tools and try to deal with the mountain of produce you’ve harvested, now’s the time to take note of what didn’t work, what worked really well, and to hone in on those crazy ideas that passed through your brain as you were weeding. We’ll ask some probing questions to get you thinking about how you’d like things to be different next time around.

You can listen in here, or download for later:




Vegetable Garden Planning

Why Fall is the Perfect Time to Plan Next Season’s Garden
What Drives Your Decisions?
The Grocery List Method of Planning
What did you Grow that was a Disappointment?
What’s Something that you Absolutely Can’t Forget to Grow Next Year?
Is there Anything that you’d Like to Move?
How Can You Make Life Easier?
Why Do You Grow Food?

Why Fall is the Perfect Time to Plan Next Season’s Garden

For starters, all of the details should be fresh in your mind, as your hands are literally still in the dirt! Being ‘in the thick of it’ is the perfect time to account for what’s truly important and what you can allow to fall to the wayside. Months from now, when you’re deep into winter distractions, it may be harder to recall your valuable perspective!

Another reason why the end of the regular gardening season is so valuable for both planning and action, is that some improvements (or entire changes in direction) are best accomplished throughout the off-season. Whether you’re looking to implement a major makeover, or just need to remember to move perennials or to plant some spring-blooming varieties, you’ll be happy for the reminder.

As your garden starts to fill in and spring becomes summer, you’ll have a little less flexibility to accompany your decisions.

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What Drives Your Decisions?

Understanding what you’re truly after in the garden can really help you to make meaningful decisions about its design, functionality and make-up. Are you growing food to preserve as much as possible for lots of hungry mouths, to create a relaxing and stress-reducing place of beauty, to surround yourself with culinary variety that you can’t find at your local store, or perhaps even to give yourself some privacy from neighborhood noise or eyesores?

Adding to your personalized perspective is a once-over of next year’s plans. Are you hosting a special event that you’d like to create an atmosphere for or harvest a menu from? Do you have a home business that would benefit from a landscaped spot for meeting clients? Perhaps creating a spot for a treatment table, a backdrop for taking portraits, or a comfortable sitting area is in order.

So now’s a great time to look around and decide which gaps need filling, whether they be physical spots that would benefit from a tall or wide planting, or maybe just ‘gaps’ on your shopping list, such as new veggie plantings that you’re eager to try.

The Grocery List Method of Planning

One really great way to get a handle on planning for next year is to start with creating a typical shopping list. Again, here’s where understanding your motivations will really come in handy. Likewise, the list that you draft can help you to understand your motivations!

Some of us are on a mission to save money at the market. If this is you, think about what produce items you end up spending the most on – can those be grown and preserved and crossed off your list permanently? Others, myself included, find themselves surrounded by such a lack of variety, that it feels good to have access right at home to foods that have disappeared from produce bins (think hot peppers, meaty tomatoes, and homegrown sweet corn – all of which can be frozen).

Another motivator is the mistrust that some of us feel when facing our food supply. How much care was really given to how this food was grown and the quality of the soil? You might already know that what you grow at home is nutritionally far superior to anything that you can buy.

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What did you Grow that was a Disappointment?

Now is certainly the right time to have that realistic heart-to-heart with yourself about where you’re wasting your time and effort. The end of the season is the perfect time to face up to what just didn’t work out.

For me, this list includes my beloved red peppers. Homegrown, sweet, crunchy and juicy, fully-ripened red peppers are pretty much tops for me. But they take forever in my zone 4 Vermont garden! For years I thought this was okay – of course I could wait for my favorites, even if I was only ever getting a small amount per plant. But now I’m not so sure…

Because I’m surrounded by several organic farms with dawn-to-dusk farmstands selling sweet and delicious red peppers, can’t I just buy them in and use the entire row that I’ve dedicated to peppers for growing something more productive and more in line with my values? Like, beans or potatoes!

What’s Something that you Absolutely Can’t Forget to Grow Next Year?

Here’s where you get to remind yourself of all the times that you ran out to the garden to harvest…wait, you never planted what you went out there for! Or you did, but not enough of it! Imagine you, all of the ingredients on hand for a beautiful Caprese salad and oops…no basil this year!

Cilantro, parsnips, marshmallow root

For example, this year I moved my entire garden around – as in, entire beds of soil moved from one spot to another. I had been enjoying self-seeding cilantro and dill for several years, but this year, they never popped. So, guess what’s on the top of my garden-planning list for next year – reestablishing both cilantro and dill! And maybe some more calendula.

Further, this year I took a break from growing white potatoes and frankly, I missed them. 2016 – potatoes!

Is there Anything that you’d Like to Move?

Did something grow taller or shorter than you thought? Was something special crowded out by another plant? Now’s your time to make notes all about how you’d like to rearrange the garden. Remember that perennials (established plants that reemerge each season) want to be dug up and moved before they fill out with leaves. Knowing what wants to be where way ahead of next season is vital!

How Can You Make Things Easier?

Lastly, just as a general gift to myself, I like to choose one area each year where I can create some ease in the garden. By figuring out what I found to be overly-difficult or demanding, I can usually craft a solution so that I don’t have to spend next season as bummed out around that task as I was this year.

A great example is automating your watering system. Investing in soaker hoses (or drip tape, or irrigation systems) and timers is like having a part-time employee to stand there and water while you do whatever else needs doing. Or, better yet, while you enjoy some free time all to yourself.

Why Do You Grow Food?

In this section we ask our listeners to share why they are growing food. This week we ask Laura from Lodi, CA why she loves growing food.

Laura won a collection of Liz’s heirloom leafy green seeds, available on Amazon.

Thanks for reading our blog : ) I appreciate your time and wish you much success in growing healthy food!

Jenny