A billion steps in how to choose what to grow in your home garden

I’m scrolling through a website, it is most likely Johnnys, and I just find myself adding everything to my wish list. I just want to have the experience of growing every variety of every type of food, well except eggplant, I do not like eggplant. My wish list is probably their entire catalog to be completely honest. So the real question is how do I decide what I am actually going to spend my money on?

First, there are not really a billion steps, but there are questions to ask yourself and your family. We are going to call this a client analysis. I did this with clients that we would design landscapes for and I know that the same system works for a home garden. Plus a home garden is just a landscape that gives you food. 


 1. How much space do I have?
  • Do I live in an apartment and only have a balcony?
  • Do I live in suburbia, where most of my landscaping is grass and cement (blah!)
  • Do I live on acreage?
  • Do I have multiple areas where I can have a few mini gardens?

Figure out your space.


Before Picture of where we will be growing cut flowers this fall

When you know your space, you will know if you will be able to fully feed your family with what you grow, or that it will just be a supplement to what you buy at the grocery store. Or maybe you just want to help the bees and not ever use what you grow.

2.How many people are in my family?

Mine is technically a family of 4, but we eat very often with my in-laws so I bump that count up to 6 for our family.

If you are planning on being able to fully sustain your family you are going to need to know this number in order to have enough plants continually giving you food.

3. How much time do you have to work in a garden?

This is important to know for the crops that take more time and attention. Things such as fruiting trees. they have to be pruned every year. One tree might not seem like that much work, but when you have 20 trees that need to be pruned, that is a lot of work to do.

Things such as fruiting trees. they have to be pruned every year. One tree might not seem like that much work, but when you have 20 trees that need to be pruned, that is a lot of work to do.

If you have an absence of bees in your area, you are going to have to go out and hand pollinate your flowers or you will not get anything from it.

Then there is weeding…but let’s all be honest, this is not done as often as it should be even in the most perfect garden. [Mine really needs to be done…I’m just hoping it will get too hot for them and they will die, it is 95º today. But they will probably grow better than all the rest of the plants in this kind of heat]


4.What does your family like to eat?

I’m a huge tomato fan, so I have 5 tomato plants this year in different varieties and I probably could have been happier with another 5 added to it.

We also really love zucchini and yellow summer squash, watermelon is a must, and cucumbers, both for eating and pickling.

For the cooler months, I really love to have some potatoes and onion and all of those super high carb starchy foods that make you feel warm inside.

Once you have a general idea of what you like to eat ask yourself question #5

5. Am I interested in generic store varieties?

I really hope this answer is a big fat NO

Store varieties are so bland in comparison to what nature provides.

6. Then what should I get?

This is something I really love about Johnnys. On all of the foods, they provide a flavor profile.

Here is an example of their description of a purple asparagus that they carry.

“Sweeter and more tender than green varieties, with beautiful, purple spears. A colorful option for raw eating in salads. Spears turn green when cooked, but still have excellent flavor.” -Johnnyseed

Go through the different varieties of your favorite foods. READ the descriptions and pick one or two varieties that stand out to you the most.

I sit and do this with my husband every winter. I have the seed catalog from Johnnys and we read about them and decide one that each of us would like to try.

Sometimes we really like them and will order seed again the next year and other times we just decide that the variety is ok and we choose something else the next time.

That is the amazing thing about having your own home garden. It is tailored to your family, to fit your needs in the kitchen.

The last thing once you have narrowed down what you actually want to order is…

7. How much money do I have to spend?

This is an important factor because you do not want to be putting your baby seeds where gophers can and will eat them. See our post on Five Reasons seeds do not Grow.

The startup of a garden is an investment. one that over time requires less, but initially could be quite costly depending on the size you are working with.

If not done correctly you will find yourself having to do more in the garden than you should have to be doing. LIKE WEEDING

So there you have it…it was 7 questions to ask yourself. I hope you enjoy choosing what to grow in your garden…

DSC_0015 (1)


Make sure to look at the growing information. Many of the things I want to grow do best in 50-60ºF so I am planning my fall garden right now. Make sure that you are not trying to harvest cool crops in the summer and warm crops in the winter. Seems like common sense, but so many people never even look.

Have fun, and Happy Gardening.



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