A key to great success in your gardening practice, no matter a large yard or balcony, is being a student of your growing space and studing your options. To be a student of your growing space, watch how the sun moves. Check out different areas and map how many hours of direct sunlight and indirect sunlight is received. Take note of trees and buildings such as garages, trellises or overhangs and observe how they affect your growing spaces because they may shade na area for either a longer or shorter time than you had anticipated. This may be a new application for trail cameras! Other factors to consider are air flow patterns. How does the wind flow between houses or buildings, and how intensely does it move? With these valuable pieces of information in hand, you will be ready for the next step – checking out your options.
If you have never gardened before, your gardening history is a blank slate and there’s no baggage from the previous year! If you have gardened previously, start a journal and recall what worked and what didn’t – this is actually a great practice to put into place during the summer and autumn cleanup. Once you know the successes and failures, you really are ready to look at available options. Explore the internet, gardening magazines, and seed catalogs. They are wonderful resources for ideas and new trends. Talk to other gardeners, and check out gardening clubs. New varieties of vegetables have been developed specifically for small growing spaces such as patios and balconies. Raised beds for kitchen gardens are very effective for growing greens, herbs, tomatoes and other vegetables because the roots stay warmer than in the ground. New flower varieties and gardening techniques are discussed frequently as well. Armed with information and ideas, you are ready to make your plan. Some people even draw schematics for their growing spaces.
In the long run, being organized and having a plan saves time and money, and most importantly, stress. Gardening should be fun, simple and successful and tailored to the amount of energy and time you would like to dedicate to it. Start small and expand from there. We would be happy to assist you in refining your plan and give you feedback anytime to make your gardening experience one you’d like to repeat.
Enjoy your garden!