The Ultimate Guide To Planning A Garden

By 4 m read
The Ultimate Guide To Planning A Garden - Planning the vegetable garden (Photo by Erich Boenzli)
Planning the vegetable garden (Photo by Erich Boenzli)

The Ultimate Guide To Planning A Garden

I know, it’s still cold outside and you’re sitting by the warm fire…but spring is just around the corner! Yippee! It’s time to start thinking about growing your own vegetables, fruits, & herbs!


On our little quarter-acre property, we’re able to grow about 30 different types of food…everything from cucumbers & tomatoes to goji berries, apples, hot peppers, rosemary, and so much more!  


I’m certainly not suggesting that you start with 30 types of plants yourself…it’s taken us a few years to get this far. But just planting a few of your favorite veggies is so wonderfully rewarding. And I absolutely guarantee…it will taste far better than anything you’ve ever bought in the store.


Confession time: There have been a few times (ok, many times) when we’ve gotten just a little too ambitious and planted wayyyyy too many veggies (you would have thought we were going to open our own grocery store). Or waited to plant snap peas until June, only to watch them shrivel and burn up like paper. Or the time I thought exotic veggies would be fun…don’t even go there.


In the coming weeks and months, we’ll let you know what should be happening in your yard & garden, but for now, let’s just start with a few things to think about, from the warm comfort of your home (to make sure you don’t miss anything, sign up for our weekly newsletter):


It’s taken a lot of trial & error to get where we are now, and we’re still learning…Here’s what we’ve learned so far:


  • First, do you have the space to plant a garden in your yard, or are you going to do a few plants in containers? How much sun do you get in this area? While some plants require only a few hours of dappled sunlight (like lettuces), others require 8+ hours of direct sunlight each day (tomatoes, for example).
  • Learn which zone you live in and what plants can grow there. Click here to to find your zone. What types of plants do you want? Do you love tomatoes, lettuces, cucumbers, and other veggies? Or are you more interested in parsley, sage, rosemary, and other herbs? Do you have room for a dwarf fruit tree? Did you know that some veggies are perennials (meaning they come back every year)? In our area (zone 6), these include asparagus, rhubarb, horseradish, some berries, and others. Make sure you do your research on these, though, as some may take a few years to get established but are wonderful (like asparagus), and some can be invasive if you don’t keep them in check (raspberries & horseradish, for example).
The Ultimate Guide To Planning A Garden - Planning the herb garden (Photo by Erich Boenzli)
Planning the herb garden (Photo by Erich Boenzli)
  • What supplies will you need? This largely depends on what type of garden you’ll be planting. If you’re going to do container gardening, you may only need a small trowel and some pots. On the other hand, a garden in your yard will require a shovel, hoe, hand tiller, and plant stakes to help hold them up. Check out my list of 12 Essential Gardening Tools Under $50.
The Ultimate Guide To Planning A Garden - Designing garden layout
Designing garden layout
  • Are you planning on starting from seed or would you rather buy small plants at your local nursery? I prefer buying small plants, as seeds require a lot of work and attention, and you’ll need to get seed trays and have a spot in your home that gets a lot of light and is away from pets. Growing from seed can certainly be very rewarding though, watching your seeds turn into little baby sprouts, then into bigger plants, then into food! Start looking through seed catalogs now for ideas and inspiration…you can find LOTS of interesting plants you’ve never even thought of before! I like Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.
  • Keep in mind that while seeds can go in the ground earlier, the first safe frost-free date in the Northeast US is Mother’s Day. If you want to get your plants before that date, consider purchasing a small greenhouse for about $37. Click here to find the planting schedule for your area.
The Ultimate Guide To Planning A Garden - Vegetable garden in spring (Photo by Erich Boenzli)
Vegetable garden in spring (Photo by Erich)
  • Once you’ve decided which types of plants you want, check out a garden planner here:


These are just a few things to start thinking about and checking out while it’s still chilly outside. But get started NOW…because: Next, learn how to build a cold frame for your garden, so you can get your lettuces & spinach in the ground soon!  


Are you planning a garden this year? Let us know in the comments below!

Do your friends enjoy gardening too? Share this article with them and let us know what you all think by commenting below!

What plants are you looking forward to growing this year? Let us know in the comments section below!

And please share your photos with us by tagging #maplewoodroad and sharing on our Facebook page!

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