Extension and Ag Research News


Dakota Gardener: Planning your garden

If you are a beginning gardener, start small or have fun with a themed garden.

By Emily How, Horticulture agent

NDSU Extension – Ward County

My 2023 garden mission was to make my husband enjoy gardening. He’s a city boy from San Antonio, Texas, who until recently was unaware that pickles came from cucumbers. My work was cut out for me! How do I make someone who has never gardened enjoy the time and labor-intensive process?

As it turns out, it was easier than I expected. Planting varieties that I knew he would enjoy eating and want to harvest was the key.

With the pleasant weather we have had the last couple of weeks, the itch to start planning a garden has set in for both me and my husband. We cracked open the seed catalogs and started flagging everything that looked good or interesting.

Seed catalogs are a fun way to start planning your garden. My husband, the new gardener, prefers a seed catalog with bright colorful pictures of the different varieties. I prefer something that goes into detail about disease resistance, germination time and flavor profile. Together, we created a substantial list.

Armed with our list of plants to grow this year, we can design our garden in a way that makes the most sense.

For a new gardener, the idea of planning a garden can be intimidating. Flipping through the catalogs can be overwhelming and it can be hard to choose what to grow. If you are unsure, start small or have fun with a themed garden. These gardens create an element of fun when introducing gardening to a beginner and they can help beginning gardeners decide what to plant.

A common themed garden is a pizza garden. In this garden, you would grow plants that would be used on a pizza like tomatoes, onions, eggplant and basil. When it is time to harvest everything, you can enjoy a garden-fresh pizza. Another variation is a salsa garden, where peppers, tomatoes and various herbs are grown to make fresh salsa.

To plant a salsa-themed garden, consider these plants: 

  • Peppers such as jalapeno, bell pepper and habanero
  • Tomatoes
  • Onions
  • Tomatillos
  • Herbs like cilantro, chives and garlic

To plant a salad-themed garden, consider these plants:

  • Mixed greens like spinach, lettuce, kale or cabbage
  • Tomatoes
  • Onions
  • Peppers
  • Cucumbers
  • Carrots
  • Radishes
  • Herbs like parsley and dill

Nothing gets a novice gardener more excited than watching their tomatoes slowly grow on the vine or harvesting their first zucchini.

The 2023 garden season started with me dragging my husband to the garden but ended with him telling me how we should improve our garden for the 2024 season. As it turns out, contacting his county NDSU Extension agent was a little too easy.

Happy planning and dreaming of what the 2024 gardening season will bring. Please remember that your county NDSU Extension agent is available to help if you ever have questions about gardening, lawns or trees.

NDSU Agriculture Communication – Feb. 8, 2024

Source: Emily How, 701-857-6450, emily.how@ndsu.edu

Editor: Kelli Anderson, 701-231-7006, kelli.c.anderson@ndsu.edu


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