One of the biggest challenges in veggie gardening is trying to decide what to grow. There are so many factors to consider. Recently, I received a question from a reader about what grows well in Orlando, FL. Seems one of her main challenges is hateful bugs, particularly aphids. Sound familiar?
When I am planning my vegetable garden, I take into consideration several factors.
- Zone (or average temperatures)
- Sun condition needed
- Variety best suited to my region
- Ease of growing
- Soil condition needed
- Pests and disease problems in my area
- My general patience with care versus my level of desire to grow
Each of these variables affects the likely success of the plant. And, what might be challenging here (read: winter squash and tomatoes) won't be in warmer climates. Not that those challenges will stop me from growing tomatoes, but that I will keep in mind they will require extra care...and extra care = extra time and energy.
Understanding your local pest and disease problems is great to do BEFORE you chose your plants. There are some plant varieties that have resistance to certain diseases. And, if I know that slugs are a big problem (which they are), I start the lettuce out with organic slug control methods. I don't wait to see a problem, because with slugs, prevention is way better than trying to save the lettuce patch. Sometimes there are things I choose not to grow because I just don't want to deal with the battle.
When you plant something in its ideal conditions, it will be a happy plant. If you plant it with too little light, water, etc, you will spend the rest of your time trying to care for it. Don't turn a low maintenance plant into a pain in the rear!
Each year, I am an enthusiastic over-orderer of seeds...and I start out the season with fervor and excitement. Sometime around August I am hot and irritated, but by September, I am happy to be in the garden again. When you plant your vegetable garden this year, try to set realistic goals for your achievements. In the long run, it will make the process much more enjoyable!