Setting garden goals is very important to the success of your garden. My first year I simply planned crops but had no specific end results in mind. It was a learning year, but now that I’m in my fourth year, I’ve realized setting specific goals ensure you plant enough of what you need and not too much of what you don’t.
Here are two basic guidelines to setting your garden goals:
Set Goals with the End Result in Mind
Don’t simply say, “Plant 4 tomato plants.” What does that really mean? Instead, here is my goal for tomatoes: “Plant enough tomatoes for a full year’s supply of canned tomato products.” From that goal, I can determine how many plants I need, based on either prior experience or what I’ve researched online.
Other ideas could be, “Plant enough cucumbers to make relish and pickles,” “Plant enough squash to eat fresh all summer,” or “Grow the 3 herbs I use the most in my kitchen.”
By knowing the end result you hope to achieve, you have a target at which to aim, instead of blindly planting crops that you think you might eat.
Divide Crops into the Majors, Minors, and Rookies
Last year I simply listed out my goals, all fifteen of them. (Click here to see how I did.) It worked well enough, but this year I’m adding a slight adjustment. I’m dividing my goals into three categories: major crops, minor crops, and rookies.
Major crops are the ones that will take up the most space and effort in my garden. Minor crops are the ones I’ll fill in around the major ones. Rookies are new crops I want to try for the first time.
In the past four years, I’ve worked up to focusing on planting a year’s supply of staple vegetables: tomatoes, green beans, black-eyed peas, etc. Those are my majors.
My minors are those I’ll grow for fresh eating like lettuce, melons, and okra.
My rookies are the crops I’m trying for the first time. They may or may not make the cut the next year, but I’m all about trying new things. Last year my minors were tomatillos, corn, and Anaheim peppers.
For the beginning gardener, or a gardener of a small plot, your majors won’t necessarily be what you’ll grow to last all year but instead what you’ll focus most of your energy on. Are tomatoes your priority? Beans? Your minors will be other crops that would be nice but aren’t as important as the majors. And your rookies will be the same as mine–new crops you’d like to try.
With those guidelines in mind, here are my goals for this year:
My 2016 Garden Goals
- Tomatoes – enough for a full year’s supply of canned tomato products
- Shelling peas – 6 months’ supply (12 pints)
- Green Beans – 1 year supply (40 pints)
- Black-eyed peas – 1 year supply (15 pints)
- Potatoes – 1 year supply
- Onions – 6 months’ supply
- snap peas – equal last year
- carrots – equal last year
- cucumbers – equal last year
- bell peppers – equal last year
- jalapeño peppers – equal last year
- okra – equal last year
- corn – equal last year
- tomatillos – equal last year
- blackberries – add 1 bush
- raspberries – add 1 bush
- black beans
- wheat (maybe)
What are some of your major garden goals this year? If you are signed up for my Plant Something weekly e-mails, we’ll work on how to plan your garden around your garden goals in the next couple of weeks. Sign up here.