Imagine this: you’re sitting in a comfy chair with a favorite cup of tea surrounded by all of the colorful seed catalogs you’ve gotten in the mail over that last few weeks. You’re paging through each one and marveling at the hundreds (thousands?) of beautiful varieties to choose from.
Eventually, it’s time to make decisions and order your seeds. But, your eyes are bigger than your garden and there’s no way you’ll have room to grow everything on your list.
So, how do you decide?
In my gardening classes I
try to convince encourage my students to think strategically about their gardens before placing their seed orders. Instead of throwing every seed packet that catches your eye into your (virtual) cart, stop for a few minutes and take a closer look at your lifestyle by asking yourself the following questions:
4 QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF WHEN DECIDING WHAT TO GROW
What do you buy from the grocery store on a regular basis?
Think about what you buy weekly from the grocery store. Is there anything on that list you can grow in your own garden this year? If you buy lots of berries during the winter for your morning smoothies, add a raspberry patch to your garden plan. Or if your kids love pasta and tomato sauce for dinner every week grow a few more tomato plants and freeze them for winter sauce.
What meals show up on your family’s menu each month?
Deconstruct some of your favorite meals to see if you can grow some of the ingredients. In our house we often use burritos as a quick weeknight meal. We love growing and preserving our favorite burrito ingredients: garlic, onions, red peppers, corn and salsa.
Which foods provide the highest value? What vegetables are expensive to buy?
Think about the most expensive items you buy from the grocery store or farmers market each season. Which of those things can you plan to grow in your garden this year?
I love to have a spinach salad with my dinner most nights. Sometimes organic spinach costs up to $9/lb. in my area. So, I make sure to plant several beds with spinach in spring and fall to provide my own salads as many nights as possible.
What will make you happy to grow in your garden?
I’m all for being strategic when deciding what you want to grow in your garden. And, gardening is also a source of deep joy for many of us. With this question, you ask your head to take a step aside and listen to your heart. Some of the things we choose to grow might not make financial or strategic sense, but they just plain make us happy.
Setting aside a few minutes to step back and examine your eating, cooking and grocery shopping habits will help make your seed ordering decisions a lot easier. And it’s also a fun way to start getting excited about and prepared for spring!
My book, Smart Start Garden Planner, has a whole section dedicated to teaching you the different characteristics of each vegetable such as how big it grows, how much food you can expect to harvest, and how many days until you get a harvest.
Learning more about each vegetable will help you strategically decide what to grow in your garden this year.
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