Questions to Ask Yourself When Deciding What to Grow

Posted on Jan 27 2012 - 1:22am by Mike Lieberman

Deciding what to grow is an important decision.

It’s also the question that I get asked most often when people are starting their urban gardens.

To that question, I often respond with a series of questions that you need to ask yourself.

Here they are:

  1. What’s the location that I am growing in?
  2. How much sunlight does my space get?
  3. What am I growing in?

Once you answer those three questions, your choices will automatically be narrowed down.

If you only get three hours of sunlight, your chances of growing cucumbers are small.

Then you can move on to the next set of questions to ask yourself:

  1. What do I use most? If you are using a lot of something, you should consider growing it.
  2. What do I like to eat? This might seem like an obvious question to ask, but it’s an important one. We are working with small spaces and need to get the most out of them. Why grow something that you don’t like to eat?
  3. What makes the most $$$ sense? To me it’s herbs. At the grocery store you always have to buy a big bunch and only need a sprig or two of them.
  4. What season is it? Certain herbs and vegetables will only grow in certain temperatures.

Once you answer those questions, you will have a clearer picker as to what you can grow.

[vimeo clip_id=”35728824″ title=”0″ byline=”0″ portrait=”0″ width=”525″ height=”393″]

How did you answer these questions?

21 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Terri Hamilton January 27, 2012 at 7:07 am -

    Herbs! I agree! And lettuce. I get enough sunlight for lettuce, and I’m really bad about buying a big thing of lettuce at the store and forgetting about it. If I forget to eat lettuce for a week when I’m growing it, it’s just happily out there growing.

  2. TastingCT January 27, 2012 at 8:25 am -

    when making a teaching garden at the YMCA, we plan on “the 3 sisters” corn, squash, beans. Tomatoes, greens, cukes, herbs and flowers for pollinators. we use a no till method and have a lettuce table at waist height.

  3. Mike Lieberman January 27, 2012 at 9:03 am -


  4. Mike Lieberman January 27, 2012 at 9:03 am -

    Sounds dope!

  5. Jason January 27, 2012 at 9:10 am -

    Keep up the good work!

  6. Angela January 27, 2012 at 10:30 am -

    I also grow the things we use regularly that would go bad in the fridge.  We’ve got a tortoise, so I grow all his greens in my garden.  That way I know everything is organic, and on sunny days, he can roam around outside and eat to his heart’s content!  Even dandelions are good for him, so I don’t have to worry about pulling weeds either! 

  7. Mike Lieberman January 27, 2012 at 4:21 pm -

    No doubt.

  8. Mike Lieberman January 27, 2012 at 4:22 pm -

    That’s awesome!

  9. Phil (Smiling Gardener) January 28, 2012 at 6:13 am -

    I tend to steer new gardeners towards herbs. Many herbs are simple, can take lower light, and can be used daily in small amounts. It’s so nice being able to step outside and pick a few herbs every day.

    Things like potatoes/tomatoes/cucumbers/peppers take more work.

  10. Mike Lieberman January 29, 2012 at 4:50 pm -

    Good call. They also aren’t usually well suited for urban environments because they need too much sunlight.

  11. Amber Keinath January 31, 2012 at 2:38 pm -

    Thanks for a great post Mike. This a great way to help lower the cost of eating a more plant based diet. What would you suggest as veggies for a newbie gardener? I am in the desert southwest and right now is our growing season.

  12. Mike Lieberman January 31, 2012 at 3:03 pm -

    After you answer these questions what do you come up with?

  13. Nicole April 23, 2012 at 9:20 am -

    Thanks for all the great information! I want to start my apartment garden soon since it is prime time to get things ready here in Ohio. I have a Balcony that faces east and gets partial to direct sunlight in the mornings. I would love to grow some herbs, tomatoes, cucumbers, and hopefully some leafy greens. I am also interested in starting a small trashcan compost pile. We are just diving into a plant based diet and I am loving it!

  14. Mike Lieberman April 23, 2012 at 1:53 pm -

    That’s what’s up. Glad you are getting started.

  15. Raven May 3, 2012 at 9:08 am -

    Nicole: I have been growing my herbs indoors in Ohio for years. They do not take that much light. I use big containers to grow perennials, which come up every year: chives, mint, yarrow. They are grow under an overhanging porch. Surprisingly, they grow and are harvest-able from March through Thanksgiving. 

  16. Raven May 3, 2012 at 9:09 am -

    Since I’ve mastered growing herbs indoors and in containers, my next step is a variety of lettuces. This way, I will have greens all year long. 

  17. Mike Lieberman May 3, 2012 at 12:30 pm -


  18. Tigerlilidawn July 21, 2012 at 1:20 pm -

    I just moved into my apartment and want to start growing things for salads.. greens cherry tomotoes small cukes etc..  and spices.. to start..  I live in central Maine have sunlight most of the day.. what would you suggest I begin with.. I would like to add in more veggies as I get more aquainted with this new concept.. I used to garden years ago when I owned my own home but have been relocating a lot these last few years and now getting settled again and missing my gardening years .. have been researching new ways to get back into within the boundaries of apartment living.. love your ideas.. any others you have would be great..

  19. Antia Osorio November 11, 2012 at 8:26 pm -

    do you have anything for a tropical zone?

  20. Anthonie October 8, 2015 at 12:54 am -

    Hello I also live in Maine and have very limited gardening experience, other than my grandparents outdoor garden. What vegetables have you have success with during the winter?

Leave A Response

You must be logged in to post a comment.