Top 5 Tips To Planning Your First Organic Garden

New to gardening?  Having trouble figuring out what should you plant?

First of all, congratulations in starting your first garden!  I can remember the first time I grew cherry tomatoes. They ended up being over 5’ tall and 5’ wide, talk about beginner’s luck!. From that point, I was hooked.

Deciding what to grow can be overwhelming. Nurseries have such a magnitude of options and the internet isn't always helpful.  Here are some simple guidelines when figuring out what to grow:

 1) Plant what you want to eat. What do you enjoy cooking? There is no point in growing something if it isn’t going to be consumed and is just filling space in your garden. It may look pretty while it starts to grow, but it isn’t going to look pretty as it decomposes because you have no desire to harvest it. You will be more apt to pay attention to the plant and look forward to maintaining your garden if you are invested in its outcome. 

2) Get your money’s worth. One way to get more value is to pick plants that produce a lot. Here are a few suggestions:

Cucumbers – Fast-growing and easy to maintain, cucumbers are a great addition to your garden.

Zucchini – This vegetable is known for (over) producing. You will quickly get your money’s worth and then some.

Cherry Tomatoes – Easy to grow and long maturity windows provide an abundance of tomatoes.

Heirloom Tomatoes – Expensive and sometimes challenging to find at your local grocery store.

Herbs – Save yourself a trip to the store and avoid having herbs go bad in your fridge by clipping off just a few leaves directly from your garden as you need it.

Winter Squashes (Spaghetti, Butternut, etc) – Winter Squashes typically provide large quantities of produce and may be stored for up to four months.

Asparagus – It may take a year to get the plant producing, but it is well worth the wait. Asparagus is a perineal, providing produce for upwards of ten-plus years. Make sure you plant it in a place that will be undisturbed to enjoy asparagus for years to come.

3) Will it survive? You will need to take your climate and the location of your garden into consideration.  Morning sun and afternoon shade? Your garden may be perfect for greens, but heat-loving plants like Okra may be unhappy. Is it easy to water your garden? Do you know how good the soil is? Soil and water are two major factors in why gardens fail & the reason we offer our beds & service. Each plant has it's own unique PH preferences.

4) Grow what is typically hard to find. Are you a Borage lover? Do you like to bake with Chocolate Mint?  Growing your own produce is an excellent way to make cooking more convenient.  As fun as it is to browse a farmer’s market, it will never be as reliable or delicious as maintaining your own garden.

5) Understand space planning/efficiency – Optimize your production. After you have listed out the plants that you may wish to grow and you have checked to make sure they will survive their growing conditions (amount of sun, watering, etc..) it is time to think about what will physically fit into your garden. Does it look like you have a lot of vining plants? A trellis would be a great way to maximize your space, allowing additional plants to grow horizontally. Thinking of growing tomatoes? This is a great opportunity to plant something nearby that prefers some shade, such as leafy greens.   Also, you will harvest more if you can easily access and/or see what is growing. Consider how tall the plant will grow, so that you are not missing out on the produce that is growing behind it and try to layer accordingly.

Gardening is all about experimenting to find what works best for you. Don't be afraid to ignore the rules and try to grow plants that excite you. Every season you will get better and better and it is extremely satisfying to make delicious food to share with friends and family that you have grown in your own yard. 

If you are looking for the health benefits and convenience of growing your own produce, but don't have the time or know-how, check out our fully-managed raised bed gardening services.

Eat well, Garden Often!


Amanda Dunker