December seems like it isn’t the ideal time to start gardening; however, winter gives us a really special opportunity to plan a garden, preferably while sipping a cup of tea! No matter what garden size or situation you have, it’s important to plan your garden before you start. Grab a pen, paper, and your biggest dreams and consider…
Space is going to be your biggest concern. Whether it’s a windowsill or a sprawling cottage you can only plant what you have space for. If you overcrowd your plants, they won’t have what they need to grow.
Crop rotation is a big consideration when it comes to spacing. Some plants- called perennials- will come back year after year and need a permanent spot. Perennials include asparagus, rhubarb, lavender, and peonies. Plants you plant every year are called annuals. They include things like tomatoes, strawberries, and poppies. If you plant the same annuals in the same area year after year your plants will be susceptible to certain pests and nutritional deficiencies in the soil. It’s best to rotate groups of plants (roots and alliums like onions, carrots, and leeks; brassicas like broccoli, cabbages, and kale; legumes and vegetables like peas, tomatoes, and cucumbers) from year to year.
If you don’t have land, a container garden is an excellent way to bring some good plant vibes into your home! Lots of flowers, fruits, and particularly herbs do well in a container. Container gardening is also great when combined with a plot system. An apple tree takes a significant amount of space, but a dwarf variety can be grown in a pot on a deck or patio. If you live in a colder climate, container planting dwarf varieties of lemons and oranges is a good idea because you can bring the plants inside for the winter.
Plants have ideal conditions to grow and thrive in. Olive trees, for example, can be planted in colder climates but won’t get enough sun to produce olives. While you can have some success with tunnels, greenhouses, cloches, and other fancy gardening methods you’ll have the most success with plants that will thrive naturally in your area.
Picking your plants is hands down the most fun part of planning your garden. Consider what you want your garden for. Is it purely aesthetic, or do you want lots of homegrown food? Many plants can have dual purposes- lavender and chamomile look gorgeous and make an amazing cup of tea. Fresh herbs are easy to grow and add a lot of personality to every dish. Sometimes you can get special varieties of plants that are harder to find in stores. Alpine strawberries are a particular gardener favourite. Carrots, beets, and radishes also come in a stunning rainbow of colours.
It can be helpful to focus your garden on your favourite things, such as:
chamomile, lavender, lemon balm, rose, and apple mint.
calendula, lavender, rose, clary sage, and rosemary.
onion, red onion, tomatoes, serrano peppers, and cilantro.
onion, garlic, celery, sage, rosemary, basil, parsley, and tomatoes.
Fragrant flower garden
peony, borage, rose, marigold, sweet pea, lilac, and eucalyptus.
Ice-cream topper garden
strawberry, raspberry, blackberry, mint, hazelnut, and blueberry.
If you’re a bit overwhelmed and just want to start, you can regrow food scraps in a glass of water on a windowsill. Most plants with a root can be put in a glass of water and will start to regrow! Green onions are the most famous for this. Simply leave about two fingers of the white part and add enough water to cover the roots. Change the water daily, and you’ll be thanked with a new batch of onions! Leeks, celery, and lettuce all regrow; however, the success rate for lettuce is much lower. Carrots will regrow their tops which make an amazing pesto.
The most important thing to remember when planning your garden is to have fun! If you experiment with a different plant or technique and it doesn’t work, that’s okay. Gardening is as much about the process as the final result.
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