University of Illinois Extension
2021 Garden Planning
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[February 12, 2021]
What will your 2021 vegetable garden look
like? Where will you source seeds or plants? What new crops are you
interested in planting this year? All these questions are on the
minds of many gardeners this time of year. In 2020, there was an
unprecedented interest in all types of gardening since most of us
had a lot of time at home. All signs indicate this trend will
continues in 2021. So, whether you are ready for the gardening
season or not, now is the time to start planning.
My mailbox has already been flooded with seed
catalogs full of beautiful pictures of ripe veggies and sunshine. It
is always a great boost to flip through theses catalogs this time of
year and dream about the growing season to come. With demand for
seeds rising again this year, it is wise to make decisions and place
orders very soon.
Anyone who ordered seeds in March, likely found some plants hard to
come by. Many varieties simply werenít available and it was
especially difficult to find some of the less common plants. For
example, Ďsungoldí tomatoes are a family favorite at my house and
those seed just were not available after about mid-February last
spring. I was lucky enough to find some seedlings a little later in
the year at a local garden center, but they were sold out before I
could place a second order to fill in a few that were cold damaged.
Donít forget that local garden centers also offer a wide variety of
seeds each spring and just last week I noticed one display going up.
If the trends from 2020 hold, these seeds will go quick, so be sure
to collect yours soon.
As I look toward vegetable garden planning this time of year, many
of my decisions are based off of what I planted last year. Crop
rotation is a very important aspect of maximizing vegetable
production, pest control and soil health, if designed correctly.
Following my crop rotation plan tells me which veggies to plant
where in the coming year and how much seed to purchase. My vegetable
garden consists of 6 or 7 beds, based on how you look at the layout.
Although I have started to work toward a standard-sized bed, 3 of
the existing beds are slightly larger than the others. So, as my
rotation moves to the larger beds, I have more room for that
particular crop. Where last year was a large potato patch, this year
will be an especially huge tomato and pepper planting. While I kind
of like the variability from year to year, it requires so special
attention. So, we are working toward a more standardized bed size to
help with planning crop rotation and may redesign some beds this
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Another trend from 2020 that I anticipate
seeing more of in the 2021 season will be gardening in containers,
which introduces a whole new level of flexibility when compared to
traditional, in-ground gardens. Just about any vegetable crop that
can be planted in the ground can be grown in containers.
Unlike my in ground beds, containers can easily be moved if plants
show signs that they need more or less light or other environmental
stresses. Additionally, containers can open up a world of gardening
to those who canít accommodate the footprint of a traditional garden
due to space constraints. They can be placed on front porches,
balconies, driveways or just about anywhere with good sunlight.
I just love all the flexibility containers offer and despite having
a traditional garden we typically plant a few that sit on our patio
each summer. They are great for keep easily accessible veggies close
to the back door and my kids have really enjoyed selecting and
planting veggies in their own individual container gardens.
For more information about container gardening with veggies,
including specific recommendations for soil media and pot sizing for
specific crops, please visit Illinois Extensionís container
gardening website, available at go.illinois.edu/ContainerVeggies.
[Written By: Ryan Pankau, Extension