A frequent topic of discussion amongst gardeners is having a garden plan. This encompasses what plants will be located in which areas. It also details which ones will be neighbors as well since we all know some simply do not get along with one another. We may hem and haw over our plans until we are certain we’ve got everything just so, but the reality is that garden planning goes much deeper than simply drawing a sketch of your garden and plugging in where the plants go.

The first thing to consider when creating a garden plan is what plants your family will actually eat and in what quantity. Did you find yourself giving away a lot of veggies last year or losing some to spoilage? If so, it is important to take into consideration the reality of what is truly consumable. It is easy to get swept up in the moment, selecting and planting unnecessary types and amounts of seeds, but being realistic should take precedence. In addition to not planting things you will not use, don’t plant things it is easier to buy. If you have a farmer’s market that can provide you with adequate quantities of something you don’t really have room to grow, then consider buying that item and instead growing something else.

It is also important to pay attention to your growing zone. This can be a tough one because sometimes it is overwhelmingly tempting to try to grow something you really want, even if you do not live in the ideal zone for it to thrive. Rather than subject yourself to low yields and/or stunted veggies, plan to grow only those you know will succeed in your growing zone. As tough as it may be to accept, all the wishing in the world won’t grow veggies when the climate just isn’t right.

Once you know what you’re going to plant and how it will grow in your area, the next step is determining where you are going to grow it. If you have an existing functional garden plot, then by all means continue using it but keep necessary rotations in mind. If you are starting from scratch, however, it is important to select an area with good drainage where sunlight will be plentiful. From there you will have to determine whether traditional beds or raised beds are a better option. Remember that it is your plants that make such determinations as catering to their requirements and needs is what allows them to grow.

Now that you’ve taken all these other factors into consideration, the next step in your garden plan is to map out actual planting locations. This is important because of not only companion planting needs but also growth needs, be they horizontal or vertical. You may plant veggies that get along from a companion standpoint only to find out that one overtakes the other as it grows. Melons, for example, grow on a vine that can spread quite far, making it difficult or even impossible to grow something else close by. Rather than risk a veggie being compromised by a vine such as this, allow adequate distance between plants while still achieving your garden plan goals. In order to get a good visual on what you can place where, once you are armed with the knowledge of what you are going to actually plant, now is the time to make a diagram.

By putting some extra thought into your garden plan ahead of time, you can ensure you get more of what you want out of it in the end. Although it may be appealing to fly by the seat of your pants, this type of action rarely works in gardening. The better you plan, the more useful, desired, and delicious veggies you’ll have!