What direction is this garden facing? North and you’ve got yourself some shade, south and you’ve got a full sunny spread. It’s not really as simple as that, either. Take note of the trees that could cause some dappling, or the proximity of the house, since it could act as a barrier to the wind.
Too many trees nearby and your new plants would have to fight stolon and taproot for some nutrients. If you are growing vegetables, you’ll need a full day of sun, in most cases.
What the heck are you growing anyhow? If you’re putting in a new bed for vegetables, you’ll want to consider “convenience.” Are you running half an acre to fetch a handful of tarragon? You might want to consider a move.
How close is your water supply to your beds? Is it easier to locate your new bed adjacent to your home where the rain barrel is, or is there more sun further out? You’ll have to decide if running a 50-foot hose is worth the effort.
How big is this going to get? Think of the cardinal rule of eating buffet-style. Take a small plate and then go back for more. You don’t want to be all gluttony with a stain on your shirt at the table. Same principle works with gardens.
Too big, and things begin to feel uncomfortable. Who would have thought growing carrots would become a full-time gig? If it’s your first go at it, start small. You can always go back for seconds later.
This is probably the most important consideration. Most plants perform their best in well-drained fertile soil. What does “well-drained” look like? If you water your plants and the water moves rapidly through the soil, you’ve got some good drainage.
If it lingers, and otherwise sits stagnantly, your soil has too much clay and so you might consider adding a sandy loam to encourage movement. Too much clay (the bane of my backyard) leaves the roots gasping for air, since the air circulation is so poor.
Alternatively, if the soil is too sandy, or loses moisture too quickly, you might add some peat moss to retain some moisture. Soil quality is truly an art. It is worth it to do some research into the type of soil you have.
If you’re unsure, bring a bottle of your dirt to a greenhouse. Jenny at Southview Greenhouse is excellent and knows her stuff.
I’m working with a friend at the moment whose soil resembles crusher dust, so we’re calling Ersin at Planet Earth Organics. He can get the best-looking soil and will deliver it in his sturdy hydraulic trailer.
Without good soil, the best-laid plans can go to sod. But keep in mind location, convenience and size. All interplay to make your gardening experience a good one.
Anne Boulton is an avid gardener who lives in Sudbury. Visit her blog at greenboots.ca or contact her at [email protected].
Posted by Vivian Scinto