Planning Ideas for your Vegetable Garden

by Amy Stafford on February 23, 2014

The Garden Charmers Spring Fever Growing Your own Food | Planning Ideas for your Vegetable Garden

Planning Ideas for your Vegetable Garden with A Healthy Life For Me.

Its time to start thinking about your vegetable garden, regardless of whether or not you are a new or a seasoned gardener planning ahead makes all the difference in success and enjoyment of your garden.  I like to call this time Vegetable Garden Spring Fever.

Most people start out as a weekend gardener with limited time and no garden education.  My only knowledge of vegetable gardening is books, magazines and 15 years spent with my hands in the dirt.

I was fortunate enough to read a book before I began my gardening career that suggested planting vegetables not in rows, but using 4’ x 4’ raised beds with a 1’ walkway in between.  It was a wonderful decision for me, which I continue today with a bit of modification.  I still use the 4’ x 4’ philosophy but now use a raised wooden box method.  I have also modified the width of my walkways to 2’ in width mostly for ease of pushing a wheel barrel through.

 Vegetable Gardening with Raised Beds How To|Planning Ideas for your Vegetable Garden

Whatever design you choose to create your garden, make sure that it is not only functional but also beautiful.  Embrace the idea of growing your vegetables in a decorative, multiple level planting within a fence or defined space.  By doing this you not only the most of the space but also make a more pleasurable environment to spend your time.

Why raised beds?

The ancient Egyptians recognized that a raised bed provides better drainage than a bed flush with the soil.  The raised beds also allow your soil temperature to heat up allowing you to plant earlier in the season, lengthening your growing season.  Raising your beds also allows for easier soil amendment like compost, a quick turn and the bed is ready.

I like my soil to be at least 12” deep, but every season I add more compost in hopes to deepen the bed.

Having raised beds also allows for a neater workspace, weeding is more manageable and controlled.

Why 4’ x 4’?

If it is any wider I can’t reach the opposite side, to plant, harvest or weed.  4’ is manageable, without limiting what you can grow.  You will be amazed by the amount of harvest you get out of one 4’ x 4’ bed.

Gardening with Raised Beds How To | Planning Ideas for your Vegetable Garden

What walkway material is best?

You can use straw, grass clippings, wooden mulch or gravel for a more permanent situation.  I originally used grass clippings in my walkways, I had plenty of it and I figured I could turn over the walkways and add the nitrogen to the soil underneath.  This worked great for the first month or so.  Then I had to continue adding because the grass dries out and sinks into the dirt underneath.  I personally would not recommend this option.  Straw works better but you still have the problem of wet mud becoming a problem if you have a lot of rain.  Not to mention if you are bringing a wheel barrel down a path continuously.  Wooden mulch works well and helps to keep a solid enough walkway and suppress weeds.  If you need to change the design of your walkway moving mulch may take some time but is doable.  I use small pea gravel.  I know my raised beds won’t be moved and the gravel is wonderful at weed suppression and keeping up with heavy foot traffic, not to mention I like the nice clean look.

What to plant where?

Once you have the basic design of your garden, next you decide what you want to plant and where.  When it comes time to planting your seeds or seedlings, think about growing habits.  Tall, short, rambling.  You are not going to want to plant the tall growing vegetables in the front of your garden; they will block your view.

Plant peas, tomatoes and asparagus in the back or sides of the garden, rambling vines like squash, cucumber, gourds on the sides or back, especially if you have a fence along the perimeter to train them to grow on.  Or install a trellis to add height and support for these ramblers.

Using raised beds also makes growing organic uncomplicated by using a diverse mix of plants for a healthy and beautiful garden in a single 4’ x 4’ space.

Gardening with Raised Beds How To

The most important thing I have learned about growing an organic vegetable garden is to make it as enjoyable and functional as possible.  If you follow those two rules, you will want to spend time out in the garden and will find greater success with all your hard work.

I highly recommend checking out my companionable planting in the vegetable garden post to see who she be planted with who, and who should not.  Click to learn more.

Spring Fever in the Garden

To keep the Spring Fever going, check out the articles below from 9 other talented gardeners.

10 Ways To Catch Spring Fever With The Garden Charmers

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You can usually find me in my garden, the kitchen, at the gym or spending time with my family. I love sharing recipes, gardening and exercise tips and stories of my backyard chickens and beekeeping.
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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Carol Speake February 23, 2014 at 1:18 pm

Great post Amy. I just love the way your garden looks! Carol


Barb Rosen February 23, 2014 at 1:30 pm

LOVE you raised bed garden, Amy! I just started with two last year and will be adding more this year. The 4 X 4 idea is a great one that I might use here too!


Judy A Muche February 23, 2014 at 1:34 pm

Great post Amy, I will be referring back as I am planning my very first Veggie Garden…Lots of things to consider…:)


Stephanie February 23, 2014 at 2:03 pm

great post! I think of starting veggies at this time of year too. Never flowers. But I want to grow grow grow the greens. I say this as it snows snows snows here today. Darn!


Shelley @ Sow and Dipity February 23, 2014 at 2:50 pm

I have a little garden envy going on here! What a great space… I wish I could visit it in person!


Melissa February 23, 2014 at 2:53 pm

I agree- once you try raised beds, there’s no turning back. They have so many advantages and solve so many problems. Your garden is gorgeous. Can’t wait for the warmer weather!

Reply March 6, 2014 at 2:25 am

Hey Amy, Nice plans, Thanks for such detailed plans. Many people dream about having greenish garden with blooming flowers and ready to pluck vegetable & fruits. But they are unable to put required effort on starting their gardening project and maintaining it. Of course, this post may give better inspiration for them to gear up their gardening and enjoy it.


Ock Du Spock April 29, 2014 at 1:41 am

You have a lovely garden. I am a convert to raised beds as well!


Amy Stafford April 29, 2014 at 8:36 am

Raised beds make gardening so much more organized and helps with time management. Enjoy your spring. Amy


Bronwyn May 3, 2014 at 2:46 pm

Absolutely Gorgeous gardens! Glad I just stumbled upon this blog, look forward to reading!


Amy Stafford May 4, 2014 at 8:25 am

Thanks Bronwyn!


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