Gardening 101 Day 12: Part 2~ Easy 5 Step How-to Plan Your Spring Garden

“Help us to be ever faithful gardeners of the spirit, who know that without darkness nothing comes to birth, and without light nothing flowers. ” May Sarton

Welcome to Part 2 of my Easy 5 Step How-to Plan Your Spring Garden. If you missed episode 11 Part 1, be sure to check that out for some fundamental basics.

If you missed episodes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7, 8, 9, and 10 of my Gardening 101 series, just click the links!

In today’s post, I am going to show you how to map out your garden. I do this every year so I can look back year after year. With that data, I can be sure to ensure I am rotating my crops effectively so I can rebuild my soil and the nutrients needed. It also helps me determine if I need to grow more or less of a particular crop.

This year is going to be an all new project. As you all know, we just moved into our new home this past December and I am creating an entirely new garden space. I’ve purchased 7 galvanized metal raised beds, (I am SOOO excited), so this is going to be a big project. 

I will need to kill all the sod in the space, level the ground, install the ground cover, raised beds, and peestone. To say the least, it’s going to be some back breaking work… I’m so thankful for my boys and Dave who will be helping me install this. Each year the kids usually help me do yard work on Mothers Day weekend, so that is this year’s task! 

I am also looking into a small greenhouse… but more on that. If not this year, maybe next. Fingers crossed friends!

This is what I will be working with this year. As you can see, it is a very nice sized space, and I love it is fenced in. Actually, it’s almost as big as my raised bed garden area at my previous home. But, you can see all the work that will be going into it. The table and chairs will be my reprieve in the garden… I cannot wait!

Planning your spring vegetable garden can be a fun and rewarding experience when done right. It allows you to grow your own fresh produce, save money on groceries, and enjoy the benefits of gardening. However, it’s important to take the time to plan and prepare properly to ensure a successful harvest. In drawing out your garden plot, you will have a much better chance at success.

Here’s my easy step-by-step approach to designing your garden!

Location, location, location!

The first step in planning your spring vegetable garden is to choose the right location. A sunny spot with well-drained soil is ideal for most vegetables. If you have a small yard or limited space, you can still have a vegetable garden by using raised beds or container gardening.

What are you planning to grow?

Next, you’ll need to decide which vegetables to grow. Consider which vegetables you and your family like to eat and what will grow well in your climate. Some popular spring vegetables include lettuce, spinach, radishes, peas, and broccoli. It’s also a good idea to choose a variety of vegetables so you have a steady supply of fresh produce throughout the spring.

How much space do you have, & how much space do you need?

When planning your garden, it’s important to consider the spacing requirements of the vegetables you’ve chosen. Most vegetables need at least six hours of direct sunlight per day, so make sure to position your garden in an area that gets plenty of sun. Also consider the mature size of the plants and make sure they have enough space to grow and flourish.

If you are going to garden in a tillable plot, be sure to test your soil!

A soil test will give you an idea of the pH level, nutrient content, and other characteristics of your soil. This will help you determine which vegetables will grow best and what, if any, soil amendments you need to make. If your soil is heavy clay, you may need to add organic matter to improve its structure. If your soil is sandy, you may need to add compost or other organic matter to help retain moisture.

Get your soil prepared!

After you’ve decided on the location and vegetables, it’s time to start preparing the soil. If you have a small area to work with, you can use a garden fork or trowel to turn over the soil and remove any debris. If you have a larger area, you can use a rototiller. Clear the area of any weeds or debris, and add any necessary soil amendments.

It’s all in the timing!

Another important aspect of planning a spring vegetable garden is timing. It’s important to know when to plant your vegetables so they will have enough time to mature before the hot summer weather arrives. You can find this information in gardening books or on the internet. Some vegetables, such as peas and lettuce, can be planted as early as the soil can be worked in the spring, while others, such as tomatoes and peppers, should not be planted until the weather has warmed up.

Do you have a watering source??

When planning your garden spot, especially if this is your first time, be sure you have an accessible water source nearby. Even if you have to connect a couple hoses together that’s fine, but you do not want to have to worry about carrying water and using a watering can. Believe me, you will become quickly disheartened!

It’s important to remember to water and fertilize your vegetable garden regularly. Most vegetables need about an inch of water per week. You can use a watering can or a hose with a sprinkler attachment to water your garden. It’s also a good idea to use a slow-release fertilizer to ensure that your vegetables get the nutrients they need throughout the growing season.

Wrapping it up!

Planning your vegetable garden can be a fun and rewarding experience if you take all these factors into consideration. By choosing the right location, selecting appropriate crops for your needs and area, tending to your soil, timing your planting, and providing regular care, you can enjoy a bountiful harvest of fresh produce all season long. 

Remember, gardening is a trial and error process and it’s okay to make mistakes. Keep learning and experimenting, and you’ll find that gardening becomes more enjoyable and productive over time.

I certainly hope you are encouraged to grow your own food. Even if you start with only two or three of these things, that’s a great start! 

If you enjoyed this blog , please LIKE, Follow, Share & leave me a comment! I love your feedback!

If you aren’t following me on Facebook or Instagram, go on over & give a LIKE & Follow me for daily tips & tricks for your home & garden!

Until next time friends, eat fresh, shop local, & have a happy day,

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Gardening 101 Day 12: Easy 5 Step How-to Plan Your Spring Garden

“It’s raining but the tulips are still managing to poke their green shoots out of the mud, a promise that spring is coming, and so is the sun. I suppose I owe it to them to at least keep my head up until then.”
~Quote adapted from one by Writers Block

Only 25 days until my beloved spring returns. The new life I long for along with all her secret promises will soon come up out of the ground. And this year, they are secrets. As you all know Dave, the boys, & I moved into our home this past December, so many of the flower beds were well into their winter sleep.

Of course I can identify most of the bushes, shrubs, and plants but I’m sure there will be many ‘spring’ surprises popping up out of their winter slumber. The one thing I am so excited about is the magnolia tree in our backyard right off our deck. I have always dreamed of having one, but they are such a slow growing tree, so I never planted one. 

With spring comes new life… but presently life is dormant, still, and cold. 

Winter is filled with dreams and anticipations of planning new garden projects. I am incredibly excited for what I am planning here in our new yard! I am very excited to share the whole process with all of you here, and of course on my social media platforms and at my NEW YouTube channel!

I am actually going to spread this topic into 2 parts. Today I’ll go over my easy 5-step how-to plan your spring garden. In Part 2, I will show you how to diagram it out!

Spring is one of new beginnings… fresh hopes… dreams of what will be…

The dream I’m ever longing after is feeling the dirt once again along with the warmth of the sun.

I thought with all this dreaming we’d look at something all of us die-hard gardeners are doing… planning our gardens.

Here is my Easy 5 Step How-to Plan Your Spring Garden tips to get you started in the right direction.

Gather your seed catalogs!

Gather all your seed catalogs, sticky notes, a pen and high-lighter along with a notepad.  Once you’ve decided on the amount of space you have in your garden you’ll know what you need and the quantities.

 Be sure to check out my YouTube video on How-to Place Your First Seed Order!

What do you want to grow?

Decide on the varieties that you want to grow.  The best way to do this is to plot out some time when you can sit and peruse your catalogs. Read variety descriptions carefully to determine light, soil, moisture and spacing requirements.

Draw your garden design out !

I always draw out my gardens so I have a visual to see. You don’t have to get as detailed as mine… I just enjoy the whole planning aspect.  You can use graph paper or a piece of notebook paper. Be sure to think about your space and its limitations.

I’m going to go into great detail in Part 2 of this topic blog. So keep posted for more on this!

Determine available space.

When planning your garden you need to keep in mind space limitations and each plant’s growing habits. For example, a tomato plant should have three square feet for proper growth and maturation. 

Think about your aisle ways when planning this. If your isles are two feet wide, then plan your tomato row with three feet and then two on both sides.

You’ll need a total of 7 feet minimum for a row of tomatoes.  Look at the plant descriptions in the catalogs.

Soil testing is a good idea.

I advise, especially for first time gardeners, to test your soil. You can buy a simple soil test at most garden centers or take your sample into an agency that offers this service.

You will have better success if you know what your soil may be lacking. It could be something as simple as calcium/lime or copper.

Although there are many other aspects to getting your garden plan done, these are the basics to get you on your way! Keep posted for Part 2 coming in a just a few days!

I certainly hope you are encouraged to grow your own food. Even if you start with only two or three of these things, that’s a great start! 

If you enjoyed this blog , please LIKE, Follow, Share & leave me a comment! I love your feedback!

If you aren’t following me on Facebook or Instagram, go on over & give a LIKE & Follow me for daily tips & tricks for your home & garden!Until next time friends, eat fresh, shop local, & have a happy day,

Landscape Design Tips, The Importance of Soil & Yummy Apple & Cinnamon Pancakes!

I am a Cottage Gardener through and through~ I love the free form it allows me to have… the natural flow that occurs with time… the feel that everything has been there forever.  Cottage gardens just seem happy and inviting to me~ they seem to say, ‘go ahead & pick a bouquet.. take it in the house, smell it…  gaze upon it’s beauty and wonder…’  Daisies, lupines, delphiniums and roses are just a few of the Cottage Gardens blooms that abound. I wouldn’t even know where to begin to explain how to do other garden types.  I believe your heart becomes a part of your garden over time, it calls out to you each time you pass by and invites you in like an old friend.  Landscaping can be fun and exciting, filled with anticipation of what each year will bring, what news plants will be added, new walkways, arbors… Enjoy your gardens and be one with it, it will bring you years of peaceful abundance.

There are several aspects to consider when considering your Landscape Design. These elements will effect the outcome quite drastically and need to be planned well in advance. 
*First make your Plan~  Walk through your yard and break it into three basic areas~1. Public Spaces- your front yard and driveway; these should be neat and organized; 2. Private Spaces- patios, pools areas and children’s play areas; these spaces allow for your personal creativity; 3. Utility Spaces- garbage cans, propane tanks, central air units, firewood piles and such- be practical when planning these areas. For instance, you don’t want to walk across your entire yard in the winter when you want to get some firewood 🙂
*Decide what your Personal Taste is~ this is probably going to be the easiest step in my opinion, unless of course you are not a gardener at heart and simply want a yard that is esthetically appealing to the eye and don’t really care about personal expression.  If this is the case, I would recommend going to a book store that has gobs of magazines; look at the covers of all the gardening magazine and see what catches your eye; decide what you like and then purchase several in that category of gardening;  what is your budget? what is your time limit to maintenance?
*Take into consideration the Style of your home when choosing your garden style.  You wouldn’t want to put a formal English garden with an old Victorian home.
*Blueprint your yard~  you don’t have to be an architect to do this.  You can actually purchase kits at garden centers to aid you, or do as I do, just take a pad of paper and rough draw your entire property or just the area in which you want to do the landscaping.  Take into consideration where all shade, all sun and partial shade/sun areas are located.  This will make a big difference in the plants that you finally choose.  Jot down where trees, fences, ditches, buildings, sidewalks, driveways, etc. are located. 
* Make a Plan of Action~ take time to develop your blueprint and plan.  Most well done gardens are a work in progress that require time and patience, not to mention funds! Decide on all the elements that you want to incorporate into the landscape and then decide what is the most practical thing to start with.  You will more than likely be incorporating hard scape elements into the design with the plants and maybe some garden art. These would include walkways, pergola’s, patios, pools, arbors and trellises. Also bird baths, sun dials, statues and any other ‘art’ you want.
*Choosing the plants will be another big decision.  You will need to decide on trees, shrubs, perennials and annuals.  This will need to be decided upon once you choose your style.
*When deciding on the Layout, if you choose to incorporate paths, make them winding if at all possible; this adds interest and creates a feeling of anticipation as to what is coming up around the bend.  This obviously is not possible in all yards, so a way to create that feel is in your flower beds.  Instead of making a straight line edge for your beds, put curves in them to create interest.  It is amazing how this creates a natural flow that is appealing to the on lookers eye.
Different things to consider when planning:
~ do you want a veggie & herb garden?
~ do you want shrubs and trees that require little pruning
~ do you want flowering or evergreen shrubs & trees? or a mixture of both.
~ take into consideration all four seasons when choosing your plants.
~ be sure to look at growth patterns- maturity height & width, shade or sun, dry or wet, etc.

Designing and planning your garden is the fun part of gardening, but there is another very important element that is the Key to Success~ your Soil.  The following information was found and adapted from “Michigan Gardener” magazine, April 2012 issue on page 9.
“Soil is comprised of three materials: sand, clay, and loam.  The best soil has equal parts of all three.  Problems arise when there is too much of one material. Sandy soil is too loose and drains too quickly… Clay soil is too hard when dry, repelling water and making it difficult for roots to grow. When wet, it holds too much water, leading to root rot….  Spending a little time becoming familiar with the soil type in your backyard will greatly improve your gardening success.  If you need help, bring a sample into your local garden center and an expert will help you determine your soil type….  You’re not necessarily stuck with the soil you’re given.  Adding amendments will help create a rich, loamy composition that’s a great environment for plants to thrive.  For sandy soil, add organic matter, such a peat moss or compost, to give it more texture add water holding properties.  To break up clay soil, add gypsum, pine bark fines or ceramic pellets.  It is also important to know your soil’s pH as well as nutrient composition before applying fertilizers…. Tests are available for about $20….”
There is much information to be had on this topic that I wouldn’t have time to get into here.  I would advise you to get a soil sample done and get your soil prepped for maximum benefits.
Yummy Apple & Cinnamon Pancakes!
Here is yet anther way to use Taylor’s awesome pancake mixes! Be sure to pick one up at the market!

1 Package of Taylor’s Bake Shoppe Regular Pancake Mix.  Follow package instructions for 1 recipe.
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 apple, cored, peeled, quartered, grated and divided
sugar for sprinkling
butter for melting to fry in

1. Make batter according to package instructions adding the cinnamon.
2. On a heated skillet melt 1 Tbsp. butter; sprinkle 1/2 tsp. sugar on top of melted butter; add 1 Tbsp. grated apple on top of this.
3. Immediately pour 1/4 cup of batter over top of apple, sugar & butter; cook until bubbles appear on the surface, about 1 to 2 minutes; turn and continue to fry for an additional 2 to 3 minutes, until golden.
Serve warm with maple syrup , butter and whipped cream.

Happy Day,