Every gardener dreams of a bountiful harvest, but not every garden grows according to plan. It takes a lot of resources, time and knowledge to successfully grow your own food and sometimes these resources are hard to come by. Sowing seeds may be an early step in this very long, yet rewarding process, but it is not the first. Every gardener should start with a plan.
Highly underestimated alongside the daily chores of the season, a garden's design is an essential ingredient to a healthy harvest. It's important to know which plants will grow well in your area, what their characteristics and requirements are, and what their benefits will be for your family. If you want your kids to eat more vegetables, a proper garden layout will promote healthier plants and children. Those who ignore this valuable step pay a price. Overly-crowded crops, stunted plants, and disappointing yields are the guaranteed results of this unfortunate oversight. Not to mention the lost opportunities for saving seed. There's no reason to garden like this. As we've come to learn – prepare first, then plant!
Creating some garden blueprints just takes a bit of attention to detail. With designing comes decisions, so any preferences must be settled on in the beginning. A gardener hoping to preserve and save seed for his family's future must be familiar with harvesting and seed saving methods. To accomplish this goal, it must coincide with what types of seed are sown and the space allowed in the garden. A proper layout will help you look at the big picture beforehand and keep all such factors in harmony.
Every garden design will undoubtedly have its share of variables, though. What if your garden space becomes exhausted? If trellises are penciled in on the layout, they will fix that problem before it even arises. We love training my plants to climb up – instead of out – saving both the garden and our backs from stress. Such vegetables including pole beans, small gourds, melons, and cucumbers will all flourish when grown this way. Trellises can be easily made from anything sturdy enough to offer support. Fence posts, cattle panels, bamboo, re-mesh wire, or even discarded volleyball nets will work for certain varieties.
Location can be another varying factor that might try a gardener's patience. One solution for our dilemma here with our rocky soil is container and raised bed gardening. Whatever your difficulty may be, raised beds and containers will certainly improve matters. They are a great addition to any garden grown in a "less-than-ideal" location. Using concrete blocks, untreated wood, decorative rock, or even old tires, anyone can build their own bed. It's easy enough for anyone to do! Look around your farm to find old flower pots, wagons, boxes, buckets, or even an old boot and have fun sowing your seeds! Just make sure that the container has drainage holes and plenty of depth for roots to spread.
Vegetables like radishes, beets, and carrots, thrive in these convenient beds, where the soil is loose and rich. When the dirt is too solid and compact, root crops are not allowed to grow and expand into the tasty veggies we all love. Thanks to our handmade raised beds and containers, even Southern Missourians like ourselves can enjoy such harvests. Construct these into your blueprints and they'll also improve the surroundings with unique style and color.
As for the question of where to plant what – a common headache for gardeners – it requires organization in and out of the garden. The art of companion planting is essential to remember for truly sustainable living. Our plants can be very demanding at times. It is our job as the gardener to know each one's needs and tend to them accordingly. For example, tomatoes – a front runner in almost every garden – will thrive beside carrots and basil. Plant these three together to improve growth and flavor as well as for protection from harmful insects. This is companion planting at its best. However, if you grow corn or broccoli near tomatoes, your garden could be introduced to disease and crop failure. Learn which plants like each other and which ones don't when designing your garden or else disappointment may be inevitable.
When putting ideas to paper, don't forget the garden's visitors – namely butterflies, bees, and other helpful insects – that are drawn to your flowers and veggies. Your garden needs them as much as it needs you. Send out an invitation by growing marigolds, nasturtiums, zinnias, and herbs. This is another form of companion planting.
There is no question that a well-designed garden speaks for itself. The rewards from living off your land are unmistakable. However, don't feel bad if you're overwhelmed at the daunting task that lies before you. That's where we come in. We too love carrying our harvests indoors with warm reception and we're dedicated to helping other gardeners do the same.
There are many steps to success – each significant in their own way. Through our free Designing Gardens program, we're dedicated to showing folks how to grow more efficiently. Just tell us a little bit about your garden, i.e. what you want to grow, specifications like your location and garden dimensions, and we will design your garden for you!
With your package, we will include planting instructions, seed saving guidelines, suggested companion plants, and a full customized garden layout - everything you need to jump start your season! Remember this, sowing with unanswered questions will not get a gardener anywhere, but sowing with a plan does.