Thumbing through seed catalogues is both fun and overwhelming. It’s got me alternating between pulling my hair out and rubbing my hands together with glee. It’s hard not to feel in over your head if you’re starting your first real garden in a completely new climate, and you’re not sure what to plant, when and where.
Luckily, square foot gardening (SFG), which I talked about in my previous garden planning post, makes things much easier. It’s just a matter of mapping out your squares! And that’s exactly what I have been doing over the last few weeks.
A simple google search found a wonderful online SFG planning tool, which has been easier than graph paper for the time being. It’s called the SFG Planner, and it allows you to draw your beds and plug in what you want to plant It even tells you how many plants per square to put in.
I started making my list of what to plant, and I really did stick with the advice to plant what you will eat. This coming year, I will be planting:
- Swiss Chard
- Hot peppers
- Bush beans
Seems like a whole lot in a very small space, but with the creative use of trellising for the vining crops, we can go vertical and gain lots and lots of space.
You may also notice that the plants I listed above are not all vegetables and fruit. I’ve included several culinary herbs and a few flowers, but they all have a use.
They are all companion plants! That is, they will help the other plants by repelling pests and helping to improve the soil. For example, marigolds drive away any number of pests. Not only that, but marigolds are… calendula! Which is a wonderful healing herb with many uses for children. Nasturtiums also repel pests and the flowers are good in salads. Radishes repel cucumber beetles, and lettuces and nasturtiums improve their flavor and texture. Basil makes tomatoes tastier. And the list goes on!
Having my gardens laid out in squares makes companion gardening easy and allows me to plant friends close and keep enemies (like strawberries and broccoli) separated.
I still haven’t settled on the specific varieties that I will plant, but for the time being, this is a general look at how I will plant my garden in spring: SFG Planner – Design Square Foot Garden online
Have any of you started garden planning? What’s going in your garden next year? Have you had good luck with companion planting? I’m eager to hear about your experience!