Gardening can be one of the greatest joys of your life, often very relaxing. I know that I love coming home to my garden and seeing all the new things sprouting and blooming. But getting that garden can be a hassle if your not growing the right plants. There are four key elements to picking the right plants for your garden. Location, sun exposure, taste and yield.
Location is pretty easy. Each plant at your local garden store will usually already be something that can survive in your area. But if your ordering online or if you are unsure you should use a plant climate zone map. Your area will have a climate zone number, Oklahoma is zone 7. Pick plants that are hardy in your zone or colder zones. The lower numbers are colder climates.
Taste, now for the fun stuff. What do you like? What does your family like? Meg and I really enjoy basic table veggies, and fruits. Like green beans, potatoes, and salad greens. We also enjoy melons like cantaloupe, and water melons. So these are the things we grow. We eat a lot of salsa, and can a lot pizza sauce and jellies. So we grow a lot of tomatoes. All this comes down to one thing, grow what you eat, eat what you like. If you don't grow what you like to eat your going to struggle with your commitment to gardening.
Sun exposure is the next biggie, make sure that you've followed the steps in our previous post about picking the best location for your garden. Then check the plant tag and see if that plant needs full sun, partial sun, partial shade, or full shade. Most fruit bearing plants are going to need full sun. Plants like tomatoes and peppers and most of your veggies. Some of your cooler weather plants may want some afternoon shade. Plants like broccoli, carrots, and lettuce.
Lastly, how much do you need? Meg and I often grow a full six tomato plants because of all the canning we do with tomatoes, but we only grow about one batch of lettuce because we can't eat it all. So you'll want to look at what you eat, and how much you eat of each item and then plan accordingly. This is one of the hardest parts of gardening, defining how much you'll need is always hard. But the nice thing is, if you grow too much you can always make your friends really happy by giving your surplus away.
That's it, and while some of this sounds like a lot of work it really isn't. It's mainly about thinking through some of these things before you run out and spend money on plants you don't need. Oh and like most of gardening, its about experimenting with things until you find the garden technique that is perfect for you. So get out there and get your hands dirty. There's nothing like a little dirt on your hands to make you feel like you've done something today.