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If you’ve never had a garden, or you have but don’t feel successful when you have, then you may be yearning to not only grow a garden, but grow a successful and abundant garden this year—and I think that’s exciting!

So what has stopped you in the past?  Time?  Knowledge?  A plan?

Relax future gardener, there’s help.  There are seven simple steps to take to help you grow your best garden yet this year.  And—they aren’t that hard—I promise.

Know Your Zone

Knowing your zone will help you take appropriate steps to selecting the best crops for your area.  This is an area I ignored when I moved to my current zone 4.  I had read from so many “experts” that zone had nothing to do with annuals—wrong.

I believed these “experts” (who all have zone 7-9 gardens), and grew what I wanted anyway.  Although my plants started, transplanted, and even grew some, they were never fruitful.  Now I take my zone seriously, select appropriate crops, and have much better results.

Find your zone by looking at this map, and entering your zip code.  If you’re a new gardener, write it down somewhere so you’ll remember.

Know Your Average Last Frost Date

This is the last day of your spring that averages out to the last frost.  It will be very specific to where you live.  Don’t put crops in the ground unprotected until after this date.

For example, my last average frost date is May 31.  I don’t put out unprotected seeds or seedlings until June 1.

Use this link to figure out your last average frost date.

And when the time comes near, remember that this date is just “average” and check your local weather to see if you won’t have a year where your cold weather sticks around a bit later.

Know Your Average First Frost Date

This is the first day in fall that averages out to the first frost, that is also specific to your area.  Don’t leave crops in the ground unprotected after this date.

If your average first frost date is August 10, then you’ll want to make sure that any crops left unprotected on the night of August 10 are harvested.

Again, when the times comes near, remember that this date is just “average” and check your local weather to see if you won’t have a year where you cold weather comes sooner, or later.

Use this link to figure out your first average frost date.

You can grow a beautiful and abundant garden this year--you just need a plan.

Do Your Research

In one aspect, simply planting a seed, weeding, and watering is really all you need to do to grow some crops—if you’ve got experience and know what to watch for.  But if you aren’t used to growing crops successfully, and aren’t used to seeing and paying attention to certain things, then you’re going to have to do your research.

Invest in a comprehensive growing guide, and study up on what it is you plan to do ahead of time.  Take a look through our gardening archives, and Pin those you wish to have for future reference.

Also be sure to only plan for quality seeds.  These seeds are high quality heirloom seeds.  I just ordered mine, and I highly recommend them.  With a 70 day growing season, I have to have seeds that will grow, and I know I can count on these.

You can grow a beautiful and abundant garden this year--you just need a plan.

Have A Plan To Use Your Garden Goodies

Once your garden becomes lucrative, don’t let it get away from you.  It can be highly discouraging to see fresh beans and peas one day, and then see them over-ripe or gone to seed before you get to enjoy them.

I suggest keeping a Pinterest board with each crop you grow.  Pin to it all the information you need on growing it, recipes to use with it, and also preserving if that’s in your future.  You can see some examples by checking out my Blueberry, Onions, Rhubarb, and Tomato boards (or a variety of others I have).

Be careful to only pin pertinent information you will need and use.  If you plan to grow in the ground, don’t pin a lot of information on growing vegetables in containers.  You’ll just have too much clutter, and it won’t be easy to find this information when you need it.

Check out the garden archives to get started.

Have A Plan To Preserve

If you know ahead of time you want to preserve your loot, then start planning for it early.

Don’t grow a bumper crop of beans and then wonder how to can them all once they are all ready.  You won’t have the time to get the equipment you need and learn everything all at once.  Set yourself up for success before the time comes.

Again, this is where those Pinterest boards come in handy.  Make sure you read through the articles before you pin them.  You’ll want your boards full of useful information—not wordy articles that don’t give you what you need.

Look through my preservation archives for some ideas.

You can grow a beautiful and abundant garden this year--you just need a plan.

Have A Plan To Use What You Preserved

It does no good to have a pantry full of beautiful strawberry vinaigrette or cantaloupe jam if you don’t know how to use them, or worse—forget they are there.

Make sure to work your yummy produce into your daily eating plans.

Once again, those Pinterest boards will come in handy here.

Bonus Step:  Get Help

What if you had a friend who already knew all about gardening, cooking fresh produce, preserving, and then using what’s been preserved?

Here at the Farmer house, we strive to grow and raise 80% or more of our own food each and every year.  This is the life we live.  If you want inspiration and tips, make sure you are signed up as a subscriber and gleaning as much from us as you can.

You can grow a beautiful and abundant garden this year--you just need a plan.

(If you need to learn how to can your own produce, here’s a great place to get started.  Then check out our preservation archive.)

So what are you waiting for?  You’ve made the resolution, now get started with these seven steps.