I'll start you off by saying grow what you actually eat. It also really depends on the size of your intended garden, if small in area I'd suggest several deep beds and get yourself salad stuff going to keep you covered for the summer months. Its surprising just how much you can grow in a small area and it will save you money and be much more healthy for you. If you have been planning this in advance you will already have your own compost ready to use, this really is the secret to deep beds, keeping them well mulched with homemade compost.
I have seen folks buying compost to fill their deep beds, but its usually full of fertiliser or expensive for organic .... best to make your own. I'm sure others will be along soon if you give us some more details.
Joined: Feb 01, 2009
Location: North Central Michigan
Pamela, yes they do. However a lot depends on your area, your zone, soil, sunshine, water and what you like to eat.
If you haven't read much about gardening I might suggest you start out reading Gaia's Garden, which will help you get some ideas of gardeing in a small area..very good source, there are others as well but this is a quick read.
Also while you are thinking on gardens..look through some alphabetical garden catalog or book and make a list..list those things that you really love to eat but aren't as likely to be able to get from another source..or that just taste better grown at home..actually list everything you like to eat ..some things you won't be able to grow..like I like bananas and pineapple but I live in Michigan so unless I grow them inside..i don't grow them.
Then there are some things that are just too large or too difficult to grow on a small scale..so put a line thru those. Then see what is left..and what might be worth growing..
Then do a little research or ask..about each item on your list..does it grow best in sun, soil, wet, dry, etc..and also study the shape of the plant and it's roots..if it has large roots and is a huge feeder that gets big leaves it might not work too well with some other plants but might do well say under a tree or berry shrub..
Sometimes comparing root shapes is helpful..say a beet has a fat round root but a lettuce has a tiny root with a leafy top..they can grow fairly well together as they won't compete for root space or much for sun..carrots are another thing..and other spikey root crops..that can generally grow by other plants as they grow that deep long root and smallish tops..
Permaculture would be a good area of study for you ..as the GAia's garden book I mentioned by toby Hemenway..it teaches you HOW to plant things together in a mixed edible food forest situation ..or even just in beds together..you learn about dynamic accumulators (or things that bring up nutrients) mulch plants, nitrogen fixers that feed your soil and plants with nitrogen, insectary plants that bring in beneficial insects..etc.. READ everything you can..while you have a few cold months left..and get started on that list.
Bloom where you are planted.
I wish that I would have found this forum when I first started gardening! I wasted time, money, and energy doing things the way "they'd always been done" (which really isn't true anyway). You'll find infinite answers to your infinite questions on this website.
Carla Emery (who wrote The Encyclopedia of Country Living) advocated for Permaculture and her book recommendation was for Bill Mollisons Introduction to Permaculture. He was considered a founder of this way of cultivating the land, and so it's a great place to start. I also hold to the recommendation of others to read Gaia's Garden, which provided a lot of really practical advice that helped me tremendously!
you might also want to look into square foot gardening to get maximum use out of your space. :}
Joined: Feb 01, 2009
Location: North Central Michigan
all of the book suggestions are great ideas..I also love Bill Mollison and square foot gardening is great..there are a ton of good permaculture books out there, you can try by searching words like permaculture, edible forests, food forests, also some organic gardening books have a lot of growing info for each plant, rodale has a few old organic encyclopedias that are great sources.
Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
Biointensive is a method of growing the maximum amount of food in the minimum amount of space. The book "Grow More Vegetables" by John Jeavons has a chapter on companion plants and how to design a garden using companion plants: http://growbiointensive.org/grow_main.html
Tomatoes, garlic, basil, parsley, onions are essential and do well together.
Also, I recommend a small herb spiral with perennial herbs. Thyme, Rosemary, oregano and garlic chives and onion
chives. Mint is great but grow it a pot or contained area. Sage and french tarragon can be added later imo.
If you like arugula I have found it to be weed-like and some of that is good if you like it. Swiss chard seems to be a
strong grower for me.
So much depends on where you are and how much space you have. Fellow poster Tyler will encourage you to put in
an asparagus bed. I am mad at my asparagus right now so I am not going to. It is a perennial crop that when conditions
are right it should feed you for many, many years. I have seen info about it getting along well with parsley and tomatoes.
Mix in some flowers. Nasturtiums are pretty, edible and insects don't like them much. I mix in marigolds here and there.
There are any number of flowers that could be used in spots in the garden to attract pollinators.
Joined: May 15, 2012
I've found you can grow twenty tomatoes, corn, marigolds, and chives all in a 5x5 raised bed and get decent crops or better off of all of them. (There were cukes in there too, but they sort of got smothered, can't imagine why <lol> but even they produced some.)
Also: Pots are great for extending your garden area. Just about anything vigorous will do well in pots, such as herbs or squash or tomatoes.
And don't be afraid to go vertical. Scarlet runner beans will happily grow straight up your drainpipe, and give you loads of beautiful red flowers to admire and lots of beans to either eat young or use as dried beans.
Good luck with your garden!
Every year is an experiment. I've been gardening (organically from back when they meant it) for nearly 30yrs, and I don't think I've ever seen the same thing happen two years running. So have lots of fun!
Joined: Mar 11, 2012
Location: Western Kentucky-Climate Unpredictable Zone 6b
We have always grown alot of tomatos and now plant basil around them. We can the tomatos and all year long make pasta sauce , soup , and salsa. I take the basil and make alot of pesto . It will last for months in the refrigerator. There is a tomato variety for your region. Basil just needs warm days and a short period
for growth. You can add the basil and other fresh herbs into your canned tomatos.
Permaculture is CPR for the planet !
Joined: Feb 24, 2012
The bed on the left has beans, corn, tomatoes, rosemary, swiss chard, spinach and dill in it and all
seem to be doing well. This is today, so in a few days this will all begin to grow together and you won't
be able to tell what is going on.