Planning the Vegetable Garden

Planning the Vegetable Garden

It’s excitement time when you grab your stacks of seed catalogs and your pencils and your big sheets of paper (or, for those of you who are savvy enough to be reading this book on a Kindle or Nook, your tablet with a landscaping app). Planning the vegetable garden is when you take all those bright ideas dancing in your head and try to put them on paper (or on a screen).

Here are a few questions to ask that will help you through the process.

What vegetables does your family like? Check with the rest of the crew to see if there are any vegetables they’d like to see on the table. Sometimes they might surprise you. So you keep planting pumpkins and making nutritious pumpkin spice everything. Have you asked the rest of your family if they want pumpkin spice everything? If they say No, then sigh dramatically but plant something else. The old saying, “everything in moderation,” certainly applies here.

What do you want to get out of the garden? Do you plan to do a lot of canning/dehydrating? Are you trying to lower your food budget? Make holiday decorations? Plan (and plant) accordingly.

Always start small. A garden can end up being a daunting task. You can always expand later. Or, if there’s a new vegetable you want to try out, plant just a little bit of it instead of two long rows.

How are you going to cultivate the rows? Tiller, hoe, tractor? Put enough space between the rows to allow your implement of choice to fit. An additional note: if you had a lot of trouble keeping up with weeds last year, maybe this year you might make the rows just wide enough to admit the lawnmower. No, I’m serious, that lawnmower can be a lifesaver when your garden gets out of control.

Other tips:
Put all the perennial crops (asparagus, rhubarb, strawberries) together at one end to make everything easier to manage.

You can plan for succession crop, or a fall garden, and overlap these areas. For example, after you’ve harvested all the radishes, plant the area with tomatoes. After the spinach is done, plant cucumbers. That way, you can keep production going after each crop is finished.

In hilly areas, plant along the contours of the hill. Up and down planting will lead to erosion.

Plant rows running north and south. Otherwise, the plants will shade each other during the day.

Later on, make notes about what worked and what didn’t, and put them in your gardening notebook for next year.

Don't Thrown in the Trowel: Vegetable Gardening Month by Month