How to Decide What Vegetables to Plant in Your Garden
It is garden planning time! This is something I look forward to every year and every year what we plant changes. So how do we decide and how should you make your decision? There are many factors to consider including what you like eating, the space you have available, how long your growing season is, how much sun you get, and how expensive the foods are at the grocery store. Let's take a look at each one.
What types of fruits and vegetables does your family like to eat? When many people think of gardening they think tomatoes and green beans; the basic foods many people plant. But if you don't like those foods, don't plant them. What you like the best should be a priority on your list. For us this list includes tomatoes, peas and lettuce.
If you have an unlimited gardening space then it doesn't matter so much what you plant. But if you are like most people, you will be limited. Therefore you have to take into consideration how big the vegetables grow. Pumpkins take up a lot of space for one or two pumpkins at the end of the growing season. Lettuce takes up a small amount of space and you can harvest it several times a week and have more than one planting each year.
Considering how long your growing season is is essential to determining what to plant. Potatoes for instance take a good six months. Where I live there is barely enough time for potatoes to grow. I keep trying though and most years have a pretty good result. But if I lived any farther north, I wouldn't get enough to make it worth it.
How much sun you get is also essential. We have a wooded yard and while we have cleared a spot for gardening, we barely get enough sun to make it worth it. The first year we lived here I tried watermelon, corn, pumpkins and okra. Needless to say they didn't work very well, correct that, at all. I never got anything from any of those plants. On the other hand, if your garden gets sun all day every day, then cool weather crops might not work for you, as they typically can't handle the heat of summer.
The last thing you should consider when planning your garden is how expensive the fruits and vegetables are at the grocery store. Most people do not even begin to think about this. We like growing potatoes because they are fun and we always grow different varieties than what can be bought at the grocery store, but economically it would make more sense to grow something else in that space. Potatoes are one of the cheapest vegetables you can buy; therefore the financial benefit is not there for this crop.
On the flip side, raspberries are very expensive and my family loves them. We are going to make space for raspberry bushes this year and in a couple of years we will be able to eat all we want for free. This could be a tremendous savings over store bought. Asparagus is another vegetable that is very expensive at the store, as well as red bell peppers. You will get more crops for your money if you grow the pricier fruits and vegetables yourself. Just make sure you like what you decide to grow.
Gardening is a lot of fun, but it also requires work, time and money to get it going. Make sure you are growing the right things for you and you will reap multiple benefits. Be practical with the planning and you should enjoy a wonderful harvest all summer and fall.
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