Gardeners are dreamers by nature, I think. This capacity to dream big can often lead to some over-extension. As the garden season approaches let’s set realistic garden goals so that we can eat like royalty for months to come.
Find 1 or 2 Main Garden Goals
What’s the reason for keeping a garden? It can be any number or combination of things.
Want to can your own homegrown salsa? Focus on growing tomatoes, peppers, onions, and herbs.
Desire to just keep fill an herbal apothecary? Grow herbs like mint, lemon balm, calendula and more.
Frugal and fresh salads? Grow greens, radishes, and herbs to keep the salad bowl overflowing.
There’s no reason why a garden can’t be a number of things – but trying to focus on just a few things increases chances of success. It’s also incredibly empowering to know that meals or pantry stores came from your own hard work and land.
Keep the Size Manageable
Size is relative but keep the garden so it’s not overwhelming. Obviously, available land determines a lot of this. And this will also vary based on experience and skill-level.
A garden can be anything from a pot on a windowsill to several acres. Keep it manageable for your time, space, and skill level.
Mostly Stick to Tried & True
Those seed catalogs are full of such temptations. Oh goodness – every color, size, shape, flavor imaginable. Stick to the ones that are good for your growing zone by and large.
If you live in a cooler area this might mean sticking to varieties that ripen in less than 90 days. For warmer areas, you might need to stick to heat-loving plants or plant the cooler varieties in the fall.
Experiment & Play Wisely
Having a garden means we should play and enjoy. For sure, grow a few of those seed catalog temptations but keep it small. Let the seed and plant prove its worthiness in production in your garden before giving it too much space.
A weed-free garden is an amazing ideal. It’s also extremely hard to achieve when a garden gets large and time gets pinched. Aim instead for controlling weeds. Use deep mulch and the hoe to make it a bit easier. A well-placed hoe can do amazing things in keeping the weeds manageable.
Make Building the Soil a Priority
Focus on building healthy soil more than anything else. This will only serve you and the garden well in the future.
Use compost and other organic amendments as necessary. Get the soil tested and seek advice from folks to give the soil what it needs so that the garden is a success.
Use a Garden Journal
No matter the garden goals – a garden journal is the best way to track progress and more. Use a garden journal to record planting dates, harvest amounts, watering, temperature – truly everything.
These don’t need to be grand journal entries worthy of being saved by the Smithsonian someday. These are simply records to help you understand what worked, what didn’t, and how to make it all better in coming years.
It’s so much easier to have a written record to refer too rather than relying on memory. No one regrets having these records. Start now and keep it going.