In the Spring of 2015, we ventured into the world of home gardening. We had wanted to start a vegetable garden in the backyard and possibly branch into other plants or create a butterfly garden. I have many fond memories of growing vegetables with my mom and hope to share this experience with Squeaker and Sweet B as well. Unfortunately, we didn’t prepare enough so we were unable to grow much of anything. That and our backyard still needed some work done. While we ended up going with a container garden last year, this year we’ll probably do a mixture of raised bed gardening and container gardening. I want to share with you, some of the steps that we took and places that we looked when we started planning a garden at home.
How to Start Planning a Garden at Home
I’ve taken care of bonsai, cactus, and vegetables in this past so I have a light green thumb. We have notions of putting up spider plants in the house, at some point, but beyond that my thumb isn’t so green. The thought of growing flowers kind of intimidates me and I don’t have the patience to plant fruit trees.
But I do recall my bit of envy every time I ventured to the farmer’s market with the girls last summer. The fresh vegetables were amazing and we could really taste the difference.
So it’s not for a lack of motivation but rather not quite knowing where to start.
Know Your Growing Zones Before You Plan Your Garden
Gardening is not the same in every state. If you’ve ever planted food in your garden and had it fail, you may have made the mistake of planting foods that are outside your region. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has a map which can help show preppers which foods will grow the best in their region and when those foods should be planted.
Whether you buy seeds or plants, foods are labeled by their hardiness. Those labels are referring to the specific areas of a state where the plant will thrive. There are eleven regions divided by temperature into zones 1 through 11.
Southern states are divided by whether the area is coastal and tropical as well as whether they fall under the upper, lower or middle South zone. A state can be all of one particular region or a mixture of two or three. For example, Florida’s region is completely coastal and tropical while South Carolina is a blend of coastal and tropical as well as lower and middle South.
Some states are located in the Southwestern Deserts region. California is divided into zones by whether it’s northern or southern California and is divided b coastal regions and inland valley too.
The Pacific Northwest is a region and the Western Mountains and High Plains is another. The remaining regions are the Northern Central Midwest, the Middle Atlantic and the New England Region.
To locate your region, look on the USDA map for your state and it will tell you what zone you’re in. The map will also tell you when to plant your garden. When planting a survival garden, you want to plant to what will grow well in your region.
What Can You Plant in Your Garden?
Grain and corn can grow well in almost all the regions, as will beans and peas. You can grow staples such as oats and barley as well as tomatoes. Potatoes and carrots grow easily in most regions.
Cabbage, lettuce and squash make great foods for gardening as well. Broccoli and herbs should be in a survival garden and you don’t want to forget to grow fruits for making jams and jellies as well as for use in pies and other desserts. Fruits from the berry family (blueberries, raspberries and blackberries) are easily grown. Don’t forget to plant a section for herbs.
Almost everything that you grow in a garden, both fruits and vegetables, can be canned and safely stored as long as you make sure the food boils for at least 10 minutes. Foods that you can from your garden can keep for years, they’re healthier for you and will hold their fresh taste.
After doing some looking around, I thought that maybe buying a kit to start indoors would be my best bet. I spent a bit of time on HerbKits.com and two things that caught my eye in particular are the Salad Garden Starter Set and their selection of indoor herb garden kits. I’m going to talk that over with Kyle though and we’ll see if we end up purchasing something from there. If we do, of course we’ll let you know how our experience goes.
Another place that I spent some time, was The Old Farmer’s Almanac. We have a print copy, but it’s also nice to have the reference online. I read through their article on starting seeds indoors and also checked out an article on when to start seeding indoors from Away to Garden.
Those articles at least gave me an ideas of where to start if we’re going to start from seedlings. While I was reading those, I also checked Amazon to see what they had for books for beginning gardeners. And the next time I have funds, I’ll be investing in these or checking them out from the library to see if they’re a good fit for what I’m looking for.
After I got myself away from Amazon, it was back to google to start looking for articles on what vegetables would be best for starting a home garden. Of course, I also had to think about what we like to eat because I’m not going to spend the time planting something and cultivating it if we aren’t going to eat it. Mother Earth News has a great list of 10 Best Garden Crops for Beginners and Garden Guides also has an article on Vegetable Starter Plants.
Our Beginning Garden Planting List
So what’s on our list to try growing in our garden?
We’ll see how far we get with our garden this year, but hopefully we have some success with it. Of course, I’ll start sharing our progress (or lack of) once we really start to get moving with this project. And if you’re looking for more resources on starting a home garden, be sure to check out my Pinterest board!
Though this is also geared towards starting a family garden (since I want the kiddos to be involved), there’s a lot of tips and helpful advice here.
Do you have a garden at home? What advice would you share with someone who’s just starting out?