Sometimes the hardest part of starting a garden is figuring out where it should go and what should be in it. Here are some things to keep in mind when you’re planning your garden!
Drainage--As we all know, it can get pretty soggy here in Central Kentucky. Because much of our soil is rich in clay, it holds onto water longer and doesn’t readily drain, causing plant roots to become waterlogged and diseased. So, it’s important to make sure your garden soil is well-drained and that it’s not situated in a low point or depression in your yard. Mounding the soil using a garden hoe when shaping your beds and then mixing in a generous layer of compost is a good move to make to give roots more room to grow and ensure that the soil’s pores don’t become saturated. Or, you can opt to plant in a raised bed instead! This is a useful trick if you have any space restrictions and will promote healthier conditions for plant growth overall.
Sunlight--Most garden plants require a minimum of 6-8 hours of sunlight per day to grow properly, so make sure your garden site isn’t too shady! Positioning a garden directly beneath a big tree or beside a tall building probably isn’t wise, as blocking the light could interfere with plant growth and development.
Topography--Ideally, your garden site should be as flat and level as possible. This helps ensure that the soil is loose and well-drained and that nutrients will be distributed evenly throughout. Also, try to avoid planting at the top of a hill, as the wind can potentially damage plants and quickly dry them out.
Proximity--For your own sake, make sure that your garden is close to your tool shed and a water source. Gardening is a lot of fun but tending to plants can be tiring in the heat of the summer, so you don’t want to make it hard on yourself by building it in an inconvenient location!
Designing Your Garden:
Choose Your Plants--First and foremost, think about what you want to grow in your garden! While this might sound obvious, it’s worth taking the time to research different varieties of your favorite vegetables to see which would perform the best in your area. Perusing a seed catalog website like Johnny’s or Seed Savers Exchange might introduce you to things you didn’t know before! For instance, some varieties have natural resistance to certain diseases or are more equipped to deal with certain conditions like intense heat, which might come in handy depending on the forecast for the growing season.
Being Mindful of Space--If you’re dealing with a smaller area, it might be worth considering space-saving options like growing in a raised bed or interplanting--also known as intercropping--to make the most of your garden. For example, planting radishes in between rows of carrots or leafy greens around your broccoli or cabbage can help you save on room and get more bang for your buck! Succession planting is another space-saving technique that allows you to have a continuous supply of fresh vegetables by staggering planting dates 1-3 weeks apart for crops like leafy greens and root vegetables and starting a new crop immediately after you’ve harvested another.
Drawing It Out--It never hurts to draw out a map of what your garden is going to look like. Getting your concept down on paper first allows you to see the bigger picture and more easily tweak different aspects of your design. You might even try using a garden planner if you prefer digital maneuvering to hand drawing!
Hopefully this brief guide has given you a better idea of what your garden might look like or some inspiration to shake things up this year! Share your garden plans and visions in the comments below and, as always, reach out if you have any questions :-)