When deciding what to plant in your vegetable garden, you have so many options that it can be overwhelming. Here are a few tips that will help you decide and set your garden up for the best chances of success.
Lookup Your Hardiness Zone
The USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map just one standard metric that growers can use to help them determine which plants will work best for them. The map is created by taking the average annual minimum winter temperature and then dividing it into 10-degree (Fahrenheit) sections. The 2012 USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map is also broken down into addition 5 degree (Fahrenheit) groups. Knowing which Hardiness zone you live in is really helpful when your shopping for plants or seeds at the garden center or online. One important thing to keep in mind is that the Hardiness Zone maps are not detailed enough for “Microclimates”.
What are Microclimates?
Microclimates really small variations to the weather within a region. Blacktop, concrete, asphalt, or wood on the side of a house or shed often cause burn areas around your garden. Where as cool spots form by small hills and valleys, or heavy shade from trees. Each Individual gardens could be warmer or cooler than the surrounding area because it may be either sheltered or exposed. Since every garden is different, unfortunately no hardiness zone map can take the place of a gardener’s own detailed knowledge about their plots. One great way to get detailed knowledge about the weather in your garden is to have your own Weather Station. Here at Raymond Farms, we have the Ambient Weather WS-1001-WIFI OBSERVER. This gives us the best local weather measurements possible.
Plant What You Like To Eat
Another aspect to consider when deciding what to plant in your vegetable garden is, plant what you like to eat. Planting what you like to eat not only will give you more of an interest in making sure your garden plants succeed, you’ll also gain pride in eating produce you grew vs buying it at the grocery store. Even if you live in a Hardiness Zone less than 4, you’ll still be able to have fresh vegetables during the short growing season. If you do live in a colder climate, the best thing to do is start your seeds indoors early in starting blocks or even plant them in movable containers that will allow you to bring your plants back indoors or into a garage during those first few cold nights.
Plant Easy Plants
If you’re just starting out and really struggling with trying to figure out what to plant in your vegetable garden, the best thing to do is to get plants that are easy to maintain. Mother Nature can be difficult enough during a good growing season, so make things easy on yourself. One easy way to start your first garden is to buy Starter Plants from the big box or garden center. Starting plants from seed can be difficult and if they don’t work out it’s easy to feel disappointed. Why not give yourself the larger chance of success and having a good year vs trying to be a master gardener and loose interest in growing delicious seasonal food.
If your just starting out, I believe the single most important advise I’ve recievced from people when I was figuring out what to plant in my vegetable garden was…”Start Small!” If you start with just a few plants in small area you’re giving yourself a great chance of having a good gardening season. My first year, I started out with two tomato plants, some onions, and potatoes. My yields weren’t huge, but they were easy to manage. I was even able to make a few small batches of sauce with the tomatoes and onions. So when in doubt remember K.I.S.S.