Making the decision to have a garden seemed easy, but deciding what to plant is a whole other ballgame. While many might think that it is simply a matter of going to the local nursery and picking up a few plants, there is actually a bit more that goes into the process. Below are some starting points to consider before jumping in the car and heading out to pick out those plants.
The phrase “location, location, location” is important in the real estate world. It is also important in the gardening world. Deciding where to plant is almost as important as what to plant. There are numerous places that will work: back yard, front yard, deck or patio. Picking the optimal spot on the property is key to a successful gardening experience. Why? Gardens need a variable amount of sunlight. Areas that are completely shady will need plants that can be grown in the shade only. Full sun areas will require plants that can handle constant heat. The best choice is one that is a combination of both sun and shade.
Once a location has been determined, take a look at how much space is available to plant flowers, vegetables and herbs. Measuring out the intended area designated for the garden space will be one of the deciding factors in picking out the right plants. If the space is small, such as a deck or patio, then perhaps it is best to do a container garden and only choose a few pretty flowers, or even a tomato plant that can be trellised. If the area has more room, then a larger garden is in order. If no space is available, then consider an herb garden on the kitchen windowsill.
Soil conditions are also important. There are three types of soil: clay, sand and loam. Dirt that has too much clay may be nutrient rich, but drains very slowly. Dirt that has too much sand drains well but does not retain any nutrients or moisture. Loam is the ideal soil as it has the ability to retain both nutrients and moisture while not being soggy. Also, if the ground has been tainted with any type of chemical, it may cause plants to not grow. Even over-tilling the soil can cause problems for the seasoned gardener.
Plants tend to like well-drained, moderately organic soil. The features of this type of soil include a rich, crumbly texture and a dark color. If the ground in which the garden is to be planted does not resemble this, then it needs to be amended. Talk to a garden professional to determine the best type of amendment to use. Describe the soil condition or bring a sample. Additionally, dirt that is too acidic or alkaline based will require a different type of amendment. Many nurseries or home and garden centers carry pH test kits.
Now that those points have been taken into consideration, the fun can begin. Let the imagination run wild. Take out the pad of paper and a pencil and get ready for the second part of this article on deciding what to plant in the garden.
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