Where you put your plants has a big impact on how well they grow.
Plants growing in a suitable environment are less likely to succumb to pest or disease problems, they tend to produce more and better-tasting crops, and they require less effort on your part. Let’s look at the conditions of the site selection decision.
What is your microclimate?
Microclimates are the localized conditions of temperature, drainage patterns, moisture, sunlight, wind, soil, and other factors that make one site more suitable to some plants than others. If you are growing plants indoors, your home is your microclimate. In fact, each room will have a unique microclimate. The often dark, moist bathroom environment is significantly different from a sunny living room with lots of activity (airflow). You get the idea.
When growing plants outside, your microclimate will be a variation on whichever USDA Hardiness Zone you live in. Your outdoor space will probably have multiple microclimates unless you are like me, growing on a single balcony.
Taking the long view
It may be difficult for you to picture what your garden will look like at the end of the growing season, or a few years down the road. It’s a matter of taking lots of baby steps to a long-term goal. Drawing pictures and creating a sun map can help.
When selecting the best site for a plant, you need to keep its mature size in mind, as well as its environmental needs. Those environmental needs include healthy soil with the proper pH and the proper sun exposure.
The right sort of sunlight
Very few plants can thrive in an interior bathroom with no window. It’s just too dark most of the time. I’m sure there are exceptions [and I would love to hear about them in the comments]. But the amount of light a plant receives is one of the most limiting factors in its growth. Little light usually means little growth, especially in the world of fruits and vegetables.
Sun exposure can be full sun, partial sun, partial shade, or full shade. Those tomatoes, eggplants, and most herbs need 8-10 hours of full sunlight each day. While beans, garlic, and Swiss chard can get by with 3-6 hours of partial sun, and spinach and cabbage can be productive in partial shade. Read those seed packets to see what sort of sunlight your plants need to grow well.
Distance to water
Your plants will need watering. The more convenient that task is, the more likely it is to be done regularly. Back in the day, gardeners had to collect water in heavy clay pots and carry it to their crops, usually on their heads. Ouch! That thought sure makes me grateful for garden hoses. But, here in my apartment, I don’t have a hose. I have a watering can and significantly fewer plants than I used to have. If you have a big yard, you’ll want to position your plants in such a way that watering is made easy. You can simplify your watering task by placing plants in hydrozones. Hydrozoning refers to putting plants with similar water needs close to each other. But not too closely.
Each plant needs to go somewhere. In my post on plant spacing, we saw that the distance between plants impacts how healthy and productive they are. Read those seed packets and do your homework before deciding on a site for each plant.
You can grow a surprising amount of food in your own yard. Ask me how!
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