Guide to planting your garden

Choosing what to plant in your garden is a thrilling and important decision. Your selection will depend on various factors, including your location, climate, and personal preferences.

It’s important though to take note of what you already purchase and eat. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t plant something you normally wouldn’t purchase, but planting what you already love to eat will save you money in the long run.

butternut squash - planting your garden

Starting from seed

Planting seeds offers the advantage of a wider variety of plant choices, including heirloom and unusual varieties. It can be a more cost-effective option, especially when growing a large number of plants. Starting from seeds also allows you to closely monitor and control the entire growth process, making it ideal for experienced gardeners.

We always start our garden with seeds we’ve collected from our own produce and purchased seeds.

Every fruit and veggie contains seeds that can be used to plant the following year. As long as you keep them in a cool, dry area, you can keep seeds for years and you will end up with an unlimited supply of seeds which in turn means an unlimited supply of food!

sowing seeds indoors vs outdoor

Starting seeds indoors can provide the ideal temperature, light, and moisture conditions for germination and early growth, regardless of outdoor weather. It’s especially valuable for regions with shorter growing seasons, as it enables you to cultivate a wider range of crops.

If you decide to start your seeds indoors, look for biodegradable seed pots. These are great because you’ll be able to plant the entire pot when the plants are ready to go outdoors. You’ll want to start your seeds indoors at least 6 weeks before the last frost. This will vary depending on your growing zone.

We prefer sowing seeds straight in-ground as our growing season is pretty long. We have found that seeds started outdoors grow quicker and are stronger than the plants that we’ve started indoors. Either way works well though and you will harvest plenty of produce.

If you’re going to start seeds outdoors, it’s best to wait to plant until a few weeks after the last frost to allow the ground to warm up.

Using Starter plants

Starter plants are essentially a shortcut to a more mature garden. They’ve already gone through the delicate germination and early growth stages, making them resilient and easier to establish in your garden beds. This is especially advantageous for beginners or those with busy schedules, as it reduces the initial care and attention required for seedlings.

Starter plants can also provide assurance when growing specific crops or varieties with uncertain germination rates. While they might limit your choice to what is available at local nurseries, using starter plants is a reliable way to jumpstart your garden and ensure a successful harvest with less effort and uncertainty.

Companion Planting

Companion planting is a gardening strategy that involves planting different species of plants in close proximity to one another to enhance their growth and protect them from pests.

By carefully selecting plant combinations, you can create a mutually beneficial environment in your garden. For example, planting marigolds with tomatoes can help deter nematodes, and placing basil near tomatoes can enhance their flavor and repel certain insects. Companion planting not only conserves space but also minimizes the need for pest control. It’s a natural, sustainable way to improve plant health and increase the overall productivity and biodiversity of your garden.

Here are a few examples of beneficial companion plant combinations:

Tomatoes and Basil: Planting basil near tomatoes can enhance the flavor of the tomatoes and repel common tomato pests like aphids and hornworms.

Beans and Corn: Growing beans up cornstalks provides natural support for the beans while fixing nitrogen in the soil, benefiting both crops.

Marigolds and Vegetables: Marigolds act as natural pest deterrents, making them excellent companions for various vegetables, including tomatoes, squash, and melons.

Cucumbers and Nasturtiums: Nasturtiums attract aphids away from cucumber plants, protecting them from these damaging insects.

Carrots and Onions: Onions can help repel carrot flies, reducing the risk of damage to your carrot crop.

Lettuce and Radishes: Interplanting lettuce and radishes not only maximizes space but also helps deter soil-borne pests that affect one another.

These are just a few examples of companion planting combinations, and the possibilities are endless. Experimenting with different plant partnerships can lead to a more harmonious and productive garden while reducing the need for pesticides.

Gardening is a lifelong journey. Learn from your successes and challenges, connect with other gardeners, and experiment with new varieties and techniques.

Happy planting!

Whitney Stokes

Whitney is a naturalist who started in 2018 to encourage natural and sustainable living.

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