- 1 How to Start Garden Planning
- 2 A Couple Other Garden Planning Tips
Garden planning is one of my favourite things to do when it’s still cold outside. If this is your first vegetable garden, don’t worry – garden planning doesn’t have to be hard or complicated. I’ll show you how to go about it the easy way! And with my very own Ultimate Garden Planner Pack, I’ll do it with you to help you along the way. Let’s get started, shall we?
How to Start Garden Planning
1. Find The Right Spot
First things first, is choosing the perfect location for your new vegetable garden. If you want your garden to thrive, it needs to have adequate sunlight and be protected by the wind.
To do this, use the ‘Site Inventory’ page in the Ultimate Garden Planner Pack and examine your yard or acreage and determine the spot that:
- Has the most sun: ideally, you want at least 8 hours of sun per day, but if you don’t have that, don’t worry there are lots of things that grow in the shade too).
- Is protected by the wind: wind can damage plants very quickly, so protection from that if important. If you have no other spot, consider a wind block.
- Is close to your house: yup, the closer it is to your house, the less lazy you will be (and that’s coming from experience haha).
- Has good soil: this is important if you are planting in-ground, if not, ignore this as you will fill your raised beds with your custom soil mix.
You can even draw a little site map of your house, yard and lot lines and take notes over the course of a few days detailing what you notice about the growing space. We call this site inventory! Circle the spot that ‘wins’!!
Pro Tip: If you starting garden planning while the snow is still on the ground, look for the spot where the snow melts first, this is a good indication of a microclimate (which is the climate of a smaller area that differs from the overall surrounding climate). This tells you that, that spot will thaw first in the spring.
2. Decide What To Grow
Once you have that perfect spot you can now determine what to grow and what will happily grow in your space. One of my favourite pages in my Ultimate Garden Planner Pack is the ‘Deciding What To Grow’ page.
It starts by checking off what you eat most often and then correlates that with the amount of sun you have. It’s a foolproof way to ensure that the veggies you like will grow in your space.
3. Determine Your Garden Goal & Sizing
We are in the home stretch here of our garden planning journey. Told you it would be easy! Next, we are going to determine your garden goal and size of the garden, based on your needs and space limitations.
To start we need to figure out what your goals are for your new vegetable garden? Do you want to replace your grocery store visits altogether? Do you just want to grow some herbs? Are you looking to start small? Is it a canning garden?
Once you know this, you can correlate this with the plants that we determined above that will successfully grow in your space. For example:
- If you are wanting to replace your grocery bill, I suggest starting with 2-4 4’x8′ raised garden beds.
- If you want to start small to see if you like it, try 1 4’x8′ raised garden bed.
- If you want to grow a canners garden, perhaps try in-ground gardening for more space.
- If you want to grow herbs for your cooking, you can simply try 1 4’x4′ raised garden bed or some planters.
- By determining your goal, you will also determine the size your garden needs to be.
Use either the ‘Grid Planner’, the ‘Square Foot Bed Planner’ or the ‘Square Foot Planner’ in the Ultimate Garden Planner Pack to do this.
4. Design Your Planting Layout
Now for the fun part, to keep things easy I suggest planting your vegetables in families. Here is a cheat sheet:
- Legumes: bean, pea, alfalfa, soybean
- Nightshades: tomato, pepper, eggplant, potato
- Leafy Greens: spinach, lettuce, swiss chard
- Brassicas: broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprout, kale, radish, cauliflower
- Roots: carrot, parsnip, beets, turnip
- Curcubits: cucumber, melon, zucchini, squash
Below is my quick plan for 1 4’x4′ raised garden bed that I laid out in plant families.
A couple of tips for plant spacing:
- A quick spot to check is the back of the seed package or the label on the seedling itself. if will generally tell you the basic spacing requirements.
- If you are using the square foot garden method, plants like tomatoes and cucumbers need 2 square feet, where others like peppers and broccoli need 1 square foot, greens can get away with 2 planted in 1 square foot, and root veggies can have up to 9 plants in 1 square foot.
5. Plant Your Vegetables
Now that you have it all planned out you can either wait until after your last frost date to plant your garden with seedlings from the garden centres, or you can start some seeds indoors if you are feeling adventurous. I made a super simple tutorial and seed starting schedule in my other post to help you out!
If you have seeds now would be a good time to make use of the ‘Seed Inventory’ page in the Ultimate Garden Planner Pack and jot them down, you can also use this for seed/seedlings that are on your wishlist.
A Couple Other Garden Planning Tips
Use Planting Schedules To Make Things Easier
To go one step further, use my ‘Planting Schedule‘ page to keep track of when you plan to put things in the ground, how long they take to mature, and if you can squeeze another crop in after it has finished. This is called succession planting.
Take a look at my example page below. I know in the same spot in my garden, I can plant radish, going in as a spring crop before its warm enough for the tomato, then the tomato goes in as a summer crop, and then after the tomato is done I plant the kale that will go in as a fall crop once it is too cold for the tomato.
Take Advantage of a Garden Journal
Yes! Keep a garden journal. Track what worked, what didn’t, and what you noticed along the way. I have a ‘Little Black Page’ in my Ultimate Garden Planner that you can use for each plant and record everything you noticed about it as the season goes on so you can be better prepared for next year! Also for a more general note-taking experience, the ‘Season in Review’ page allows you to journal based on each gardening season.
Organize Better for Garden Projects & Needs
If you have a certain garden project you are working on, like a potting bench or raised garden bed, you can use the ‘Garden To Get/Do List’, the ‘Garden Expenses’ and the ‘Garden Projects’ pages in the planner to help you stay organized and on a budget. This will keep your ideas all in one place. You can even take advantage of the monthly and weekly planners I have!
And there you have it, told you it would be easy!! If you’d love to buy my Ultimate Garden Planner Pack, click HERE. If you have any questions, let me know in the comments below.