When planning your garden, it is important to ask a few basic questions. Who will be doing the work? Will the garden be a group project with family members or friends who will work willingly through the season to a fall harvest, or will you be handling the hoe alone, in between camping and swimming? Remember, a small weed-free garden will produce more than a large weedy mess.
What do you and your family like to eat? Although the pictures in the garden catalog look delicious, there is no value in taking up gardening space with vegetables that no one eats. Make a list of your family's favorite vegetables, ranked in order of preference. This will make a useful guide in deciding how much to plant of each. Successive plantings of certain crops, such as beans, will give a longer harvest period and increase your yield. List recommended varieties and planting dates.
How do you plan to use the produce from your garden? If you plan to can, freeze, dry or store part of the produce, this will be a factor not only in planning the size of the garden but also in selecting the varieties grown. Some varieties have much better keeping quality than others. Care should be used in choosing the seeds, making sure the varieties you select are adapted to your area and intended use.
How much space is available? That is, how much area can be converted into usable garden space, not simply how much empty ground is available.
Plan the garden on paper first. Draw a map showing arrangement and spacing of crops. If you wish to keep the garden growing all season, you may need a spring, summer, and fall garden plan.
In your plan, place tall and trellised crops on the north side of the garden so they won't shade the shorter vegetables. Group plants by length of growing period. Plant spring crops together so that later crops can be planted in these areas when the early crops mature. Consider length of harvest as well as time to maturity. Place perennial crops to the side of the garden where they will not be disturbed by annual tillage.
A wealth of information is available at the County Extension Office to be used in making your garden plans. Stop by if you have questions about planting dates, spacings, etc. We are at 116 Main Street in Thomson.