Toolshed Tips: Garden Planning: What will you plant?

Garden Planning: How will you decide what to grow in your garden this season?

By Libby Weiland, Statewide Network Coordinator

On an individual level, gardeners get to planning their gardens based on…

  • what grew well last year (and consequently what didn’t);
  • what you love to eat (and actually use);
  • what you find beautiful;
  • new-to-you varieties found from thumbing through seed catalogues or comparing notes with fellow gardeners;
  • or simply…what you find at the store, in the donation pile, or at your community seed or plant swap.

When you’re organizing garden planning on a larger scale, like at a shared community or school garden, much of the above applies, and more. Simply put: people (especially new gardeners) are more likely to get and stay involved if they’re excited about what they’re growing and successfully harvesting from the garden. With this in mind, it’s worthwhile to ask yourselves some key questions when garden planning with a group:

  • How will you be using the garden?
    • Is this an educational garden? If so, what crops and other plantings will help you teach and provide a space for learning?
    • Will experienced or inexperienced gardeners be planting and tending to the crops? With less experienced gardeners, plan for crops that are easy to plant and grow.
    • Is this a production garden? If so, scale up for consumption.
    • Is the garden a place where people spend time? Focus less on production and more on the senses–plants that are pretty to look at, nice to smell, friendly to touch, and fun for snacking!
  • What are the most popular items to eat? What are those veggies, herbs and fruits that keep your gardeners coming back for more?
  • What is fun to grow? Never underestimate the impact of beauty (e.g. flowers, herbs).
  • What is fun to harvest? Sweet potatoes–like panning for gold, for all ages!
  • What grows well in your garden that will guarantee success? This is where keeping a garden journal comes in handy.
  • When will you want to use your produce from the garden? For example, some schools plan for produce that will be ready to harvest in September, when students are back. Other groups might be planning their harvest for a special event or series of events.
  • When will people be available to plant, tend and harvest the garden? Remember that some plants need more or less tending than others.
  • What’s something new that will keep gardeners energized and learning? Host a “garden dreaming” party with a pile of seed catalogues to inspire!

More tips and tools for planning your garden can be found at Growing in the Garden.

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