Happy Healthy Homestead

Garden Planning

I have been so excited to garden plan this year! We are in the middle of putting up a 6′ fence that will go around our garden and chicken area and give me much more room for beds.

Even with my smaller garden area in years past, I never really put together a garden plan. I have always just gone to the nursery and pick out what looks best as far as plants and seeds go.

This year I spent a lot more time planning but I think it will pay off. Here are the main things I considered when planning. The below list does not include planning for building your beds, getting your soil, etc. It is just the planning part for picking out what you will be planting. 🙂

5 Things to Consider When Garden Planning:

  1. Zone + Microclimates
    • I live in the bay area and the garden zoning here is very confusing. It differs a ton based on your exact location.
    • For example, just 25 minutes away in Santa Cruz it’s 9B. However, I have been told by one of my experienced gardening neighbors that we are more like zone 17.
    • Also, my neighbors property that is on a hill and exposed is much different than my others neighbor down below the redwoods in the shade. Our property is down below but we still get full sun the majority of the day during our growing season (April – Sept).
    • With all this said, your area might not be as confusing as mine – but it’s important to know your zone and also any special microclimates you have in your neighborhood or even on your property.
  2. When to plant What + Tracking Weather
    • This might be more straight forward for some areas. For me, I take into consideration my zone and also what the weather is like this year compared to last year.
    • For example, some years its colder and rains for longer than other years. On a year where we are having a colder spring I will wait a month longer into my normal growing season.
    • I haven’t done this yet, but I have heard from one of the gardeners I follow that they track the exact temperature and weather every day throughout the year. The temperature on your property might differ quite a bit from the general weather forecast. By doing this you can compare year to year when it typically gets warmer/colder or if you have freezes in your area. My goal is to start doing this. I know I can’t commit to every day but perhaps I’ll start doing it once per week.
  3. What plants will grow where you live
    • For this I have found it helpful to talk to as many people as possible who have a garden. It is almost impossible to find out what will grow well in your specific neighborhood by books or even by talking to people at the nursery (unless they live near you).
    • Also, you will want to consider your climate and pick things accordingly. For example, I am not planning on growing okra ever. It just doesn’t get hot enough where I live.
  4. What kind of edibles you enjoy and will use
    • I made a list of all the veggies that we tend to eat on a regular basis
    • Then from there I took out the ones that I felt would be the most challenging and put those on my “to try in the future” list.
    • From there I took out the ones that were very cheap to buy at the store and took up a lot of space. For us this was some types of squash and cabbage.
  5. Companion planting
    • There are entire books written on this topic. You can also do a simple google search to get a good idea.
    • The organized type A part of me wants to put all of one type in each bed. For example I wanted 1 bed for root veggies, 1 bed for leafy greens, 1 bed for vines (beans/cucumbers), 1 bed for herbs, etc.
    • I fought my urge and decided against that plan. Instead I am mixing them up based on what will help each other to avoid pests and make the soil more nutrient-rich.
  6. Keep a record where things were planted + what worked
    • Some experts recommend not planting the same plants in the same locations every year to avoid possible disease.
    • In my plan I am including a sketch of which plants are going in which beds so I can keep track for next year.
    • I also set a google calendar reminder for this fall for me to take notes on what worked and what didn’t work so that I can get better or make different choices the following year.

Here is my very rough (not to scale) sketch of my garden plan for this growing season:

Hope you found this helpful. I’d love to hear from you. What things do you consider when planning your garden?