Until we moved to Texas, I had never been fond of gardening.
Whether it was lack of need, lack of experience or lack of success, I am not sure. Maybe it was a combination of everything.
But our lifestyle change from the corporate world to farm life came a new love for gardening. I found myself suddenly very excited to go out and create a bountiful garden. I have no idea what came over me! But all of a sudden, I was researching what would work best in our area and what I could plant for the future.
The first year here in west Texas, our garden did well, yielding enough produce to eat as well as some to freeze. I was so proud of our bounty. It was great to be able to share the experience of watching a garden grow and enjoy the bounty of what we produced with our children. It was definitely a more farm-to-table experience than anything we had had before.
Last year, with greater forethought and planning, it was a huge success. The Lord blessed our garden produce so that we were able to fill three chest freezers! The children definitely learned to appreciate vegetables and the bounty that nature can produce if you work with the land
Planning a garden takes a little more time than purchasing food right from the supermarket. But the rewards are well worth the effort. Everything is more fresh than it would be otherwise. You know exactly what’s going into the soil and the water the plants drank. There’s also such a deep communion with the earth and your food that I can’t explain. It has to be experienced!
Over the next few weeks, I will be posting a series on planning your garden and hopefully give you ideas which will lead to a successful one.
One of the first considerations should be the location of the garden.
The location should be easily accessible, have good soil and water access. The soil should be fertile for planting, or at least easy to make fertile for the plants that you want. Plants can grow even in a desert! But you may have to rethink which plants you would like so you can plan for the area. If what you want to grow absolutely cannot work in your environment, consider a different form of garden than the conventional plant-in-the-ground type.
Once the location is determined, you will have a better idea of how much space is available for planting. The size will determine what and how much of each vegetable will be planted. Thankfully, we had a large space available so we planted a large amount in a wide variety of vegetables.
If you do not have the luxury of a large space, think about what your family enjoys eating. What are your must-have plants? Do they work well together? COuld you even mix different types of gardens to achieve the perfect variety?
Investigate the different types of gardens.
The traditional gardening method is a grouping of like plants together in a specified area. Most of us choose this method for convenience and ease. The plants can also interact with each other in the soil, adding nutrients and helping the growth of each individual plant.
Container gardening makes use of containers or pots to grow plants in. This is especially good for city and apartment dwellers. There are also lots of online resources about container gardening, as it exploded in popularity over the last decade. Folks keep moving around and want to take their plants with them!
Raised bed gardening has gained popularity in the past as an answer to minimal space availability and as a way to have total control over the soil. Raised beds are built and filled with a mix of soil including compost and manure. They drain well and are especially good for the elderly and disabled as they can sit comfortably while gardening.
Hydroponic gardening is another technique used to grow a wide variety of plants. In hydroponic gardening, the nutrients are in the water fed to the plants rather than primarily in the soil. There are several different watering systems available for this type of gardening. It’s also fun to do this with children because they get to see how each of the different plants work together to create a healthy garden. You can even add fish to the ecosystem!
If you are new to gardening, don’t be afraid to start.
There are many resources available to help you get started. Look for local news segments and blogs centered around your area. There’s always more than you think.
In addition to books on the subject, do not overlook the people around you. Ask questions, get advise and get started! People in your neighborhood (particularly if your area is rural) have so much firsthand knowledge based on their experiences. It may also be much more up to date than anything you find online. Lots of those sources come from online and digital weather data. Which is very helpful! But they may not be recording the historical weather trends, which your neighbors may very likely know more about.
Overall, don’t give up! Starting a garden can initially be very frustrating. There’s a high bar of knowledge that can feel insurmountable. But it’s possible to get better. And you will! Just keep experimenting and learning what works for your land.
And I mean it: Do what works with your area if you’re still deciding what to do. Don’t fight nature. Just work around it and be ready to adapt your plan. That’s what gardening’s really about: Learning your place in the world and trying to create bounty with what you have.
Further reading about garden planning:
With spring around the corner, it is time to begin thinking about your vegetable garden. Are you ready? Are you planting a garden at all this year? Feel free to share in the comments (especially pictures!).
Photo Credit: © Depositphotos.com/darrenbaker