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Monday, September 1, 2014

Planning a Vegetable Garden

One of the things I've dreamt about having once we bought our house is a vegetable garden. Visiting my brother and sister-in-law on Waldron Island last summer renewed this day dream with a vengeance. It was so cool walking around her garden and picking veggies fresh off the stalk.

Half of my sister-in-law's garden
At the apartment, I used to walk down to the neighborhood p-patch and enjoy looking at other people's gardens. I thought about getting a patch, but I knew that a house was in my near future, so I waited.

Picardo P-Patch
Now that we finally own our own house, and the wedding craziness is over, I have started researching and planning my own garden. I started by reading everything I could online, especially content from local gardeners and clubs. I've pinned what I thought is useful for later reference:

Follow Bethany the ngnrdgrl's board Garden on Pinterest.

Planter Bed vs. At Grade Rows

I used my research to conclude that I want to build a raised planter bed. Raised planter beds seem more practical for smaller, backyard gardens. The at grade rows are designed for machines to work through the farm. Here are some of the pros of each:

Pros of Raised Planter Beds:
  • More plants per area - takes up less space!
  • Less effort - less weeding, less mulching and less watering required
  • Up higher to reduce back intensity
  • Good for hand weeding/harvesting - everything is in reach vs. having walk down roads
  • Reduces compaction of soil from walking around plants
  • Better drained for wet climates
  • Warmer soil for cool climates

Pros of At Grade Rows:
  • Good for machines used for tilling/irrigating/ harvesting/etc.

My Garden Plan

From my research, I found that it is a good idea to keep records of what you are planting and where. I am using Evernote to keep track of everything. I started a Garden Journal notebook and have started filing recommended planting schedules, useful resources and my first planting layout.

What types of vegetables should you grow? Start by thinking about what types of veggies you buy from the store the most. What is it your family would want to eat? Then read local guides from local garden clubs and gardeners. What do they recommend?

When picking out the size of your garden, it is best to start small and simple. Better to have a small garden that you can be proud of, then a large garden that was too hard and stressful to be successful.

I am going to start off with one 4x4 planter bed. I made this plan from

Garden Plan - Design Your Own Garden with

We buy lettuce, tomato and potato everytime we grocery shop, so we definitely want to grow our own. We also love, love, love broccoli, garlic, zucchini and basil. I think we would eat more veggies if they were fresh from the garden. I wrote out my list of desired veggies, researched which are good for growing in my region, and then used the garden planner to map out my first garden.

You will want to keep track of where you are planting and what seeds you used so that you can track which ones were more successful than others. Every growing season, you should change up where you are growing which type of veggies. This is called Rotating Crops and is important for controlling disease and not exhausting your soil.

You will also want to plant some of your vegetables in succession. When you use Succession Planting, you take 2-3 weeks between planting seeds for crops like lettuce. This lets you harvest your veggies over the whole season vs. having them ready for harvest all at once. Plus, you can trim your lettuce as you eat and they will continue to grow!

You want to choose a location of your garden for the following reasons:
  • Get's 6 hours sunlight minimum - 8 hours preferred
  • Convenient for watering
  • Convenient for harvesting before dinner
  • Convenient for working - near your garden tools
  • Not near a tree - trees will rob the nutrients from your veggies

Here is where I plan to locate my garden:

The previous tenant had a garden here, but it is in the shade of a tree. I want to plant my garden just on the edge of the shadow in this picture.
My spot isn't perfect, but I think it is the best place I can pick in my yard. It will be between the house and our planned spot for a shed (where all the garden tools will be stored). My garden hose will reach it. It gets at least 6 hours of sun.

Next Steps/Goals

Here are my next steps/goals for the next month or two (September and October):
  • Clear area for planter bed
  • Build a raised planter
  • Plant winter veggies - garlic can be planted in october! 
  • Cover bare soil - I'm either going to cover with clover or a mulch to keep my soil protected over the winter.

Do you have a vegetable garden? What do you grow? Do you have any tips for a beginner?

Have you ever dreamed of owning a vegetable garden? What are plants you would grow?

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  1. Over from Hit Me With Your Best Shot Link Up. Thanks for sharing your vegetable garden plans. The hubby and I have also been wanting to plant a garden for years and think it would be great for the kiddos. This really helped me to figure out what to do first. We have a small yard and your post makes me feel like it is indeed possible! Thanks again for sharing! Good luck with your garden. -Marie :)

    1. Awesome! I'm glad it makes sense. I think it's totally doable with a small yard. Have you looked at vertical gardens? Part of it can be planting veggies like beans that grow upward to yield more food per square foot. Also there are planters that are stacked vertically. Here is a cool pinterest board I found with lots of vertical gardens:

  2. Doing one at work with the students. We are not that detailed. We just threw some seeds in some dirt and now we have sprouts. Who knows???

    1. That is great! I wish I had participated more in gardening when I was younger. I am totally skittish about the idea of having a garden. So I am doing what I always do, researching and planning it to death before tackling the issue. Let me know how your garden does!

  3. The garden hose is a standout amongst the most helpful things in a garden. It is the one thing that most cultivators can not manage without.

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