Garden Planning 101: Selecting Seeds and Plants

This post is a part of a series on planning your 2013 garden.  Click here to read all of the posts in this series.  
Selecting the seeds and plants to fill the garden is one of the BEST parts of getting ready for a new season!   I love starting with a blank canvas, pouring over gorgeous seed catalogs, and carefully considering of all of the possibilities that the next year's garden might bring.  Without fail, my list grows endlessly, and just when I think I might have finished it up, I find something else I just have to add to it.  It's a delightful cycle that continues until, well, I guess it never really ends (whee!).  

As much fun as it is to pick out seeds and plants with reckless abandon, eventually the times comes to start making some decisions that will pare the list down to a manageable collection of smart choices for the garden. Here are some things to consider to set yourself up for success:
Location, Location, Location
There is no other single consideration that is going to dictate what you can grow more than your location, so knowing what your climate means for your garden is key:  

Grow What You Eat
Take a minute to think about what vegetables you eat on a regular basis.  This is what should make up the bulk of your garden choices.  As pretty as that eggplant might be, if you can't honestly say that you will cook it and eat it, you might want to dedicate that space to something you will.
Learn to Speak Seed Catalogese
Entries in seed catalogs and the back of seed packets can be enormously helpful in determining if a variety is a good choice for your garden, but if you're new to gardening, it can sometimes feel like it's written in a secret code. Here's a crash course in the language of seed catalogs:
Know Your Limits
As a final thought, It is important--especially for new gardeners--to pace yourself.  Know the time and energy you have to devote to your garden and plan accordingly. Even if that community garden plot is just a mile away, it still takes extra time and effort than the garden just outside your backdoor will require.  Planting what you can keep up with will make the entire growing season more enjoyable (and less like an endless list of chores).  Increase your growing space and garden repertoire little by little each year and before you know it, you'll have the garden of your dreams and you'll manage it marvelously!

So go ahead and dive into all the possibilities -- it's the only way you'll find what's right for you!  As you make your decisions, just keep in mind that finding the right seeds and plants for your garden can make a big difference in not only the success, but the enjoyment of your garden as well.

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