Because I only have so much space to work with I really need to think about what it is that I really want to grow. The plants start out small, but need their space when they mature. Last year I learned the hard way I can’t just grow anything I like. I grew a lot of tomato plants, but when they got bigger I had not enough space for all of them. Eventually I had to place half of them outside, right before winter, because even after I had given half of them away I still had to much for my windowsill. They died, ofcourse, and a lot of efford went down the drain.
It is very easy, especially in spring to start growing a lot of plants. Only to realise that you got in over your head later, and can’t place your plants once they get bigger. Luckily I have a small garden where I can also place some plants. However, some plants like basil or tomatoes won’t survive the climate, so they can’t go outside. Even in my small greenhousbox, it’s to cold for these plants. Other plants need a lot of sun, so they can only be placed in certain area’s of the garden. Same goes for plants who prefer shade, or can’t stand to much wind. Basically before I even plant a seed in the ground, I need to make sure I have the room for the plant when it’s fully grown.
But where do you start? First asses the space you have; the size, the conditions that affect each area and accesibility. Both inside and outside a lot influence can have effect on your plants. Inside the most important thing to look at is the amount of sunlight a plant can get. Not only check whether a plant gets enough sunlight, but in windowsills some plants might also get to much. I made this mistake once, and my plants almost died because they got burned by the sun. And lastly check the draft, some plants can handle this, others can’t.
Outside sunlight is important to, but you should focus mostly on the water. If it rains, where do the puddle form? That area will have more acces to water, and only certain plants can handle being “drowned” when it rains. The same goes the other way around, the areas that dry easily in the sun will need more watering during dry spells. And again, check the draft. Some fragile plants can be destroyed by a small burst of wind, or not grow at all. If you just moved to a new place this process can be difficult, and involves some guess work, therefore a lot of people will tell you to wait a year and see what all happends in the different areas of your garden. This might seem boring, but this way you can see what already grows in your garden, and can give you new ideas you would have never though of yourself. It helps to keep a garden diary, or just a simple logbook to keep track of what happens in the different seasons.
So when seeding, know what you plants need later on. Keep track of the space you have, so that you can place them accordingly to their needs. I do this by drawing up a map of the spaces I have and make “reservations”. When seeding I’m already planning where they need to go when they grow bigger. With plants that are hard to grow I sometimes make double reservations, because it is very likely that one of them won’t make it. But this can be tricky, and most of the time I need to rearrange anyway because I have two plants that need the space.
So now the question is: What to grow? This depends on the goal of your garden. This can be whatever you like it to be ofcourse! You can grow veggies to cut down costs of groceries, or you just want fresh herbs. This also does not have to be that practical, a flower garden is amazing to have. I have two goals: Vegatables and herbs. However I make exceptions for utility plants (I’ll explain that later). The vegetables I grow are cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers and carrots. I also started with radishes, but they have a lower priority. Especially when growing vegetables: Grow what you eat! There are so many plants to pick from, and vegetable plants often need a lot of caring. It is just a waste of energy and space to grow a plant you don’t eat. I also grow lettuce for my chickens, because they just love that, and lettuce is easy to grow in our climate. Some of these can go outside at a certain point, however all the seedlings start out on the windowsill (because otherwise the chickens will eat them).
For herbs I mostly grow basil, because we love basil! But I also grow parsley, chive, thyme and rosemary in fewer quantaties. Except for the basil, all of these plants can go ouside. It is so nice to use fresh, homegrown herbs when cooking! As for utility plants, these are mostly impulsive ideas that only pan out some of the times. I grow lavender to keep away insects from the chickens, and to keep the laundry smelling nice. I have just seeded some flowers in the back of the garden that are for bees and bumblebees, mostly phacelia and a few sunflowers. I will definetly plant some more later on, because bees are the most usefull helpers in a garden and I try to do what I can to Save the Bees! Lastly I have planted a flower seed mix between the vegetables that is said to keep away snails.
So my garden and windowsill are very varied, and eventough I try to stick to my planning,.It also changes a lot. Some plants don’t always grow at the rate I want them to, or my own plans change. Last I want to give a tip that can avoid a lot of frustration. Some plants just don’t like each other, and some plants grow so much better when paired with another. Look up list of plants that can be planted next to each other, and plants that don’t do well together. This can avoid frustration about why plants won’t grow, as well as give a boost to plants that help each other.
Happy gardening, and enjoy the spring!