Whether you are a first time gardener or a master, a lot of planning is necessary to ensure a successful garden. So…First things first. Where is your garden going to be? A great goal would be that your whole yard becomes your Urban Farmscape, but that could be a huge task, so it’s best to start small. A side yard, your front yard, the space outside your kitchen door, or maybe your front porch or back deck. Wherever it is there are a few things you need to do before you select plants. You will have to go outside for this so bundle up! I love to go out when the sun is shining brightly on the snow, which isn’t very often in Michigan but when it does, it’s amazing. Especially after a fresh snow when the lawns are covered with sparkling diamonds and bushes look like sugar frosted cupcakes. Nice! Okay… back to planning. Once you decide where your garden will be, do the following:
1. Measure the area and make rough sketches.
2. If you have a camera, take a lot of pictures.
3. Think about how you will be planting your plants, directly into the soil, containers, or maybe you would like to build a raised planter.
4. Sketch your garden space onto a piece of paper or graph paper. Be sure to include the location of your house, shed, fences, water spigots, and existing plants or trees. When you think you have all the information you need, you can draw a more detailed drawing (inside the house). Use a thicker point marker to outline buildings, and a thinner tipped one for everything else. Color if you like. Name buildings (house, shed etc.). Add proposed garden beds using pencil again, or a fine tip marker. If you are planning a container garden on your deck, then draw to scale your deck and where the containers will be placed. Be sure to include furniture or grills. Make notes of the actual growing space you have in square feet. For example, a 12 inch container would be 1 square foot. A garden that is 2’ x 8’ is 16 square feet. This is helpful for future reference when deciding what to plant, adding soil amendments or fertilizers. Don’t worry; I’ll talk about these soon.
5. Locate and draw a symbol for North in a lower corner. A capital “N” with an arrow pointing toward the north is typically how this is done.
6. In the opposite lower corner, write down the scale you are using. For example, if one square = 1 foot, then write that.
7. Give your garden a name and write that at the top of your page.
8. Now, observe the sun for a few days in your proposed garden space. For most fruits and vegetables, a minimum of 6-8 hours is needed but full sun is preferred. Herbs thrive in hot sunny places. Keep in mind the sun is lower in the sky during winter and that a southern exposure today may be shaded by neighboring buildings or trees, but as the sun moves higher into the sky, the area may become blasted with sunshine before too long.
These are the first steps in your design. What to plant where is soon to come. Stay tuned as I evaluate and share my thoughts on some computer related garden planning tools that are fun and will help you create your Farmscape!