What’s your goal for your garden this season? Some gardeners hope to reduce the cost of groceries. Others are planning to show their children how vegetables are grown. Many people take up gardening as a relaxing and physically active hobby. Each one of us has different gardening goals. Do you know what yours are?
Why having a personal gardening goal is important
Getting clear on your own personal gardening goals before you start planning out your garden will help ensure your garden is tailored to your needs. You’ll be sure that the time you spend planning and maintaining your garden is well worth it! You’re growing your garden for you, and it can be whatever you want it to be.
Each of us has a different reason for planting a garden. You need to know why you’d like to grow a garden before you start buying seeds and shopping for tools. When you approach your annual garden with a clear goal, you’re far more likely to make the correct decisions that will help you reach that goal.
How clarifying your gardening goals can create success
If your true goal is to connect with nature, you may find success growing a few plants that are beautiful to look at and also attract beneficial insects and pollinators to the garden. If what you really want is to save some money, you’ll do well planting high-value veggies rather than just planting kitchen staples like potatoes and onions.
Your goal may be completely different than the goals of other gardeners you know, and your goal may change from year to year. Setting your garden goals before you plan your layout or start buying seeds will help make sure you’re working towards success, as you define it. Getting crystal clear on your personal goals really is the first step in planning your garden.
My gardening goals this year
This year, my garden goal is to enjoy the food I’ve grown every single day by growing my own greens, herbs, and tomatoes. Having organic greens in the backyard garden will allow me to make salads with the freshest, yummiest lettuce all summer long. Hardier greens will provide daily smoothie ingredients throughout the year. I also love the taste of fresh garden tomatoes, both straight off the vine as well as saved for sauces and salsa over the winter.
Secondary goals include having a low-maintenance garden that is relaxing to tend, as well as saving a bit of money at the grocery store. This year’s simple garden of greens, herbs, and tomatoes also supports these goals. These veggies are relatively easy to grow but are quite expensive to buy. There is a significant cost-savings to growing these veggies as opposed to cheaper vegetables. I love growing food that’s expensive to buy in the store, but easy to grow at home!
Avoiding planning pitfalls
Because my garden goal is clear, I also know what not to grow. I’m not growing potatoes, onions, or any other veggies that are mainly grown for winter storage. We don’t eat these veggies every day either. I’m fortunate to live in an area with year-round farmers’ markets where I can buy high-quality winter vegetables for reasonable prices.
I want to spend as little time as possible on maintenance this year. I also want to enjoy relaxing in the garden while harvesting daily fresh greens (as well as the savings on those greens). Having clarified these goals in my mind, I’m ready to start planning out a garden that meets my own personal gardening goal.
Clarifying your goals: Reasons to start a garden
Think carefully about why you want to grow a garden this year. You may have several goals to consider. Perhaps you’ll have one main goal, as well as some other secondary goals. Whatever your reason, take the time to consider why you want to start gardening.
Here are some wonderful reasons to start a garden:
For the freshest produce
- Enjoy incredibly fresh vegetables, berries, and fruit
- Have consistent access to herbs and hard-to-find culinary ingredients
- Increase food security for you and your family
- To know exactly where your food comes from, and know that it’s safe
- Grow produce to can or freeze for the winter
- If nothing else, eat all the heirloom tomatoes!
For the environment
- Increase urban green space by increasing flourishing plant life
- Decrease the amount of turf grass to maintain
- Create habitat for bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds
- Produce food without large equipment that requires power/fuel
- Decrease CO2 in the atmosphere by increasing local plant/photosynthesis volume
- Localize food production, thereby reducing transportation-related fossil fuel emissions
To connect with nature
- Get some fresh air on a regular basis
- Enjoy a hobby that relieves stress
- Teach children how to grow produce
- Beautify your home in a way that celebrates nature
- Slow down and enjoy the cycles of nature
For a rewarding hobby
- Get some productive exercise
- Save money on groceries
- Try something new/learn a new skill
- Create a constant source of beautiful Instagram photos
- Grow lovely gifts to give to friends and family
- Always have fresh-cut flowers in your home
- Create community by connecting with other gardeners
There are countless amazing reasons to start a garden. Consider which of these reasons resonates with you. There may be a few things on this list that you’d like to achieve…that’s great if there are! Be sure to write down your gardening goals as the first step to planning your garden. The perfect place to record your gardening goal is in my bonus Garden Planner, which you can download for free at the bottom of this post.
How to achieve your gardening goals
Once you’re clear on why you’d like to start a garden, it’s time to figure out how you can best fulfill that goal. What actions can you take that will help you reach the goal? If you don’t immediately know, it’s time to do some research.
If your goal is to create a habitat for monarch butterflies, a little research on the web will reveal that it’s essential to plant milkweed in your garden. Milkweed provides food for monarch caterpillars, as well as a breeding location. A garden with lots of milkweeds will bring far more monarchs to your yard than a veggie garden.
Likewise, if your goal is to teach your children how to grow vegetables, it would be worth researching which vegetables are the most fun to grow. You may want to select plants that are easy to grow but produce a lot of vegetables (zucchini anyone?!).
This little bit of forethought can be the difference between growing a perfectly fine garden and growing a garden that you absolutely love. Take the time to research how best to fulfill your goals for your garden this year. Trust me, it’s worth it to put in the time now…before you’re faced with garden chores!
The free garden planner: Helping you achieve garden goals
I’ve put together a free printable garden planner which outlines the specific format to help you set a clear garden goal. Your goal needs to be both clear and actionable. The planner will show you the simplest way to set your goal to keep you focused on what you need to do and why you’re doing it.
The goal-setting section is just the first section of the garden planner. Each following section of the planner is designed to keep you on track to reach your goal as you progress throughout the season. There is much more to do to prepare for the growing season, and the planner will be there with you for each following step as you plan your garden!
- University of Illinois: Gardening goals
- University of Florida: Key Considerations for Achieving Gardening Goals
- University of New Hampshire: Getting Started With Gardening