Now that the location of the garden has been determined and the soil conditions have been assessed, the next thing is plant selection and layout. This is the fun part so take out a pad and pencil and get started. But here are some things to think about while sketching and writing down ideas.
First time gardeners should stick with the simple things. Skip the fancy stuff for the first year and follow what is tried and true. Keeping in mind location, sun and soil conditions, choose pre-established plants, flowers and/or vegetables that are easy to cultivate. Geraniums, marigolds, impatiens, cherry tomatoes, radishes and a few herbs such as basil and thyme are great choices for beginners.
Consider the hardiness zone. So, what is that? The USDA divides up the country into 11 different zones with each one approximately 10 degrees Fahrenheit warmer or colder than the adjacent zone. Take the time to compare one’s own garden climate to those of a plant that is known to grow well. Doing so will help determine the optimal time to plant.
Maximize the garden space. Take the total square footage available and sketch out the layout. Use a variety of planting techniques including container gardening, vertical gardening and edible landscaping. Using these methods will make the most of the area and provide visual and textural interest and diversification.
Container gardening works well for herbs by making them portable; moving them around the garden to take advantage of the sunlight during various times of the day. Also, when the weather turns cold, containers can be brought indoors to keep the plants going all year long.
Vertical gardening is a great method to grow more and save space. It also allows larger vegetables and melons to be grown in gardens that might not otherwise be considered worthy of these wonderful produce. Tomatoes, pole beans and peas thrive when they grow upwards using a trellis or cage. An arbor or fence is sturdy for cucumbers, cantaloupes and watermelons.
Edible landscaping is a fun way to sneak in consumable plants into areas of the landscape not normally considered to be traditional. Border sidewalks with lettuce and Swiss chard or replace that dying bush with an aromatic evergreen shrub such as rosemary or something fruit-bearing like a blackberry bush.
Planting a garden is a very personal endeavor. It’s also very cathartic and will provide immeasurable pleasure on many levels. Best of all, a garden provides an abundance of nutritious, affordable and healthy food choices year after year. Now finish drawing that layout and prepare for planting season!
If you like what you read, please click on the "subscribe" link to receive email notification when other articles by this examiner are published. Don't forget to follow her on Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook and her blog!
©2013 Susan Dusterhoft, All rights reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced without prior permissions from the author or Clarity Digital Group LLC d/b/a/ Examiner.com.