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How to Decide What Vegetables to Plant in Your Garden

Updated on January 23, 2010

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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    • irmayo profile image

      irmayo 6 years ago

      Thanks for your garden tips..i love gardening..

    • blackmarx profile image

      blackmarx 7 years ago from Rice Lake, WI

      Good Hub. Thanks for posting. You can also share your garden tips at my new website. Visit my profile for information.

    • tech02 profile image

      tech02 7 years ago from India

      Excellent advice 'Jen'. Thanks!!

    • GojiJuiceGoodness profile image

      GojiJuiceGoodness 8 years ago from Roanoke, Virginia

      Great info! thanks for making this available for me.

    • profile image

      proudgrandpa 8 years ago

      It is hard to think of gardens while slipping on ice but you are right, now is the time to plan.

      Some 35 years ago this city slicker moved to a 10 acre farm. Let it suffice to say that I made many rookie mistakes until during the winter I started attending the Agricultural agents classes and learned about soil samples, etc.

      Like you Jennifer, we have a very shady wooded lot in Charlotte NC so it is a struggle to grow grass muchless a garden.

      Thanks for the memories. NEIL

    • Bob Ewing profile image

      Bob Ewing 8 years ago from New Brunswick

      Good tips and growing items such as raspeberries which as you say are expensive, smart.

    • Abbie Marshall profile image

      Abbie Marshall 8 years ago from The Coast of Northern New England

      What a great hub, and what a beautiful garden! It's only January, but I'm itching to get the seed catalogs out and start getting things ready for this coming year.

      And brsmom68, I had the very same problem with my lack of planning affecting my pumpkins. Got some amazing pumpkins, but, my lawn basically turned into a pumpkin patch : )

      Happy gardening!

    • Dim Flaxenwick profile image

      Dim Flaxenwick 8 years ago from Great Britain

      Great hub. I love gardening but hadn't thought of many of these tips in your hub. Thanks again.

    • brsmom68 profile image

      Diane Ziomek 8 years ago from Alberta, Canada

      A very inspiring Hub! I love gardening, and was unable to have a vegetable garden last summer due to unforseen circumstances. I did have a few tomato plants and peas, but really missed the fresh potatoes. I tried to plant some veggies in containers, and was somewhat successful...only problem I had was keeping the cats out of the containers. They sure loved the fresh dirt!

      I agree space should be considered a factor when planning a garden. The first time I ever planted pumpkins...some twenty odd years ago...I did not take into account how much they would grow. I was cutting back vines from my lawn on an almost daily basis. Live and learn! :)

      Reading this Hub has inspired me to write another of my own. Thank you!!!

    • Sage Williams profile image

      Sage Williams 8 years ago

      Excellent advice, very informative and well written. I love the picture of the garden. I will be sure to pass this on to my daughter. They have a garden every year.


    • Heart Felt Book profile image

      Cheri Taylor 8 years ago from New York, NY

      I always wanted to do this thanks for the great insite

    • Bmystic57 profile image

      Bmystic57 8 years ago from Sheldon,Tx

      this is some good information here and something to think about,especially people that have large yards or empty property just sitting and paying taxes on, land that could help support your on needs.In this day and time we need all the help we can get. I have 3 acres just sitting and it should be put to good use.Thank You!

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 8 years ago

      Terrific advice. I am timid gardener, but I am learning.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 8 years ago from London, UK

      Great tips. I wish I could get rid of my plum tree and have more space. I can't do it and having it done cost a fortune. So it sits there and laughs at me.

    • Bail Up ! profile image

      Bail Up ! 8 years ago

      Thanks for the gardening tips. Never really thought about the expense of some items at the store when considering what to plant but makes total sense. Thanks