Planting a garden can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience for you and your family. By planning ahead, you can make the most of the land and produce a more successful crop. Katie Drewitz, a University of Minnesota local extension education educator for agriculture production systems, horticulture and natural resources in Fillmore and Houston counties, leads gardening programs with UMN educators across the state to bring agricultural knowledge to local, national, and international audiences. Here, Drewitz offers tips for planning your garden.

  1. Test your soil If you’re planting an in-ground garden, you must deal with the soil that’s already on your land. Testing the soil can help you understand the nutrients it needs before planting. UMN Extension offers lawn and garden soil tests at their statewide county offices.
  2. Watch the weather Springtime in Minnesota can be unpredictable, so don’t let your crops get caught in the cold. If you begin by planting your crops indoors, be sure to slowly acclimate them to the outdoor elements before putting them into your outdoor garden. If you are planting seedlings, start your outdoor planting in mid-May, depending on the weather, and cover as needed.
  3. Rotate your crops It’s crucial for preventing disease and insect issues in your plants. By planning out your crop rotation ahead of time, your garden will be more successful. The best way to plan your crop rotation is by planting similar crops together. Plants in the same family share the same diseases and pests, so planting them side by side can make rotation and management easier in the future.
  4. Start small Creating a large garden can feel daunting, so plan a smaller plot to avoid getting overwhelmed. Take notes on your garden as it grows throughout the season. What is growing well? What varieties do you like? What varieties don’t you like? What diseases are affecting your crops? Use this information for the next year so that you can have a more successful garden the next year.