Garden Planning

by Monica Resinger

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This is the time of year when the seed and plant catalogs come pouring in and we can browse through them and start dreaming up our gardens for the current year. A little planning will help you get what you want out of your garden and save you some time, money and frustration. A garden journal can be a very valuable tool when planning your garden. You can keep your garden journal in a spiral bound notebook or anything that appeals to you. The bookstores have journals made especially for your garden if you want to get fancy.

The first thing you want to do when planning a garden is to figure out what you want out of it. A great way to do this is to ask yourself some questions and take notes in your journal. Some questions to ask yourself are:

  • Do you want fresh vegetables on the dinner table through summer, or do you want more than that for canning or freezing?
  • Would you like some fresh herbs to compliment those vegetables, make herbal teas or to give as gifts?
  • Do you want your yard to be colorful with seasonal flowers and would you like extras for cutting and putting in vases to decorate your home?
  • Do you want your flowerbeds to have flowers, vegetables, herbs and fruit, or only flowers?
  • Is there some new plant you want to grow?
  • Where will you plant all that you want to grow?
  • What style of garden do you want (cottage, formal, informal, etc.)?
  • Do you want to save a little money by starting seeds, or do you want to save a little time by purchasing plants?
  • How many plants will you need for a certain area?
  • Do you have time to take care of all that you want out of the garden?

A way to get ideas for your dream garden is to find pictures in magazines or catalogs that appeal to you. You can paste these pictures into your journal or keep them in a folder nearby. When driving around town, look at others' yards and try to remember what you liked about them. Take notes on what appeals to you.

Once you know what you want by asking yourself the questions above and taking note on what appeals to you, you get to make the decisions of which plants to grow. This is where the catalogs can be a valuable tool. You can also use gardening books. The catalogs and gardening books will list plant names, whether or not it will grow in your zone, plant size, plant care and other information such as flower color.

Once you have planned which plants you are going to grow where, you'll need to purchase the seeds or wait until the nurseries start selling plants. You can also put a plant order in through a catalog and they will ship them to you at your planting date. This can be very convenient.

If you are going to start seeds, it's wise to figure out starting dates and write them onto your calendar or into your garden journal. To figure out when to start seeds, find out the number of weeks for germination time on the seed packet and count back that amount from your last frost date.

Your journal can be a valuable tool next year when making plans. Don't limit yourself to only writing in your journal now. You can also keep notes through the year on how well certain varieties of plants did for you, new plants to try, and anything else that will help you in your gardening efforts. Writing and reading your journal adds another fun dimension to gardening. Try it! I think you'll like it!

Monica Resinger is a loving wife and doting mother of two who enjoys gardening, painting, dancing and homemaking.

Take the Next Step:

  • If you haven't done so already, today's a great day to get out a journal and begin planning your garden. Ask yourself the above questions and make notes about what appealed to you in gardens that you saw in magazines, catalogs or maybe in your own neighborhood. After all, spring is just around the bend.
  • To read other great tips on garden planning, visit The Dollar Stretcher library.
  • Stop struggling to get ahead financially. Subscribe to our free weekly Surviving Tough Times newsletter aimed at helping you 'live better...for less'. Each issue features great ways to help you stretch your dollars and make the most of your resources. Subscribers get a copy of Are You Heading for Debt Trouble? A Simple Checklist And What You Can Do About It for FREE!

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