backyard garden
Country Living,  Gardening,  Intentionality

Three easy steps to plan a vegetable garden, even if it is on your windowsill!

Do you love growing things you can eat?

OR

Do you love the IDEA of growing things you can eat?

If you fall into either of these buckets of weeds, you’re in the right place! Today I am sharing three easy steps to plan a vegetable garden! (There are some bonus tips at the end!)

Lush backyard garden
Look at how lush 2018 was! It had so much going for it! There were some failures, but I’m so pumped to be planning my 2019 plot!

I grew up on a farm and my parents always had a garden every summer. I learned early about how terrible weeding a garden is, but I also learned a few tricks on growing things… I do still fail at growing crops and I call my parents to help. (You guys, they know EVERYTHING!)

If you have never grown a vegetable, it’s OK! I started just where you are after I left the homestead. It is all good because learning is the key to becoming a vegetable garden. Honestly, do not let it stress you out! There is so much you can do with a few bucks, a little dirt and a sprinkle of seeds. Humans have been growing and tending to plants since the beginning and You. Can. Too.

Disclaimer: If you are going full “dig up the Earth and plant seeds” gardening or if you’re #TeamContainerGarden, these steps will benefit you!

Containers we got on sale from Menard’s last year!

I’m a lazy gardener. I like to keep things simple, and that is how I go about planning, planting, weeding and harvesting. So, with these steps, you will see just how easy it can be to plan and grow a veggie garden.

Step 1: Think about the vegetables you like to eat

Grab a pen and notebook and talk to your family, roomies, partner or your own self and think about the vegetables you buy frequently at the grocery store or farmer’s market. Put some real thought into it, because this is what you’re going to grow!

When we first started container gardening, we had two window boxes. I think we planted sweet peas and lettuce… I don’t remember clearly because it all failed. We might have eaten one pea. It was pretty terrible.

It did teach us something. Sweat peas climb. Without something to grow up on, the pea vines kind of just folded over one another. I think I also did a terrible time watering. And we lived in an apartment, and our balcony was always in shadow, so the planties didn’t get much sun.

Poor planning on a number of levels.

The next few years, we were more thoughtful. We bought some Home Depot orange buckets for our containers and we planned out what would work best growing in them.

It was still not a perfect story, but we got some beautiful tomatoes and a few jalapenos! Other stuff died. Each year we learn a little more.

On our list this year we broke it out by vegetables in the yard garden, plants for containers, flowers I want to grow, trees we want to plant and herbs we want to start growing inside.

I also suggest considering what you want to eat fresh and what you might want to can, freeze,  make into salsa and pickle.

young garden
These look lonely, but it didn’t take long for all of this to turn green!

2. What kind of space are you working with?

Now that you know what you want to grow, you must figure out where you’re going to grow it. You must think short and long term. Planting the seeds or seedlings won’t take a lot of space, but by the end of the growing season most of your plants will take on a lot more square footage.

If you’re going full container, you will need to research what you need to grow in. For example, corn and pumpkins might not be the best option for containers, as they take up a lot of space, need a lot of water and have vast root systems.

We have had success growing tomatoes, different varieties of peppers and lettuce in containers. Those buckets were perfect for our tomatoes. We put holes in the bottom of the bucket along with some dirt under the soil for better drainage.

Our lettuce did great in longer shallower containers. You can cut that stuff and it will grow back for ages. Same with herbs like mint, chives, cilantro, etc.

If you are working with some serious square footage in the ground, you have a lot more flexibility! Corn, squash, multiple tomatoes, cucumbers and basically anything!

The best way to reign in all the excitement is to draw out where you want to plant everything. It helps to also look at the space it will take up when everything is at its peak. Last year, I put my peppers near our zucchini. The zucchini leaves overshadowed the peppers pretty fast, and stunted the peppers… This year, we are going to be putting the peppers near some of our smaller plants so they can flourish.

Pumpkins take up A LOT of room. Our green beans had to fight for sunshine because they were too close to the pumpkin’s giant leaves.

Look at the directions on the seed packets and containers of the plants you buy, plan out where they will all fit and watch it all bloom!

woman sitting in garden hiding behind leaves
Pumpkin leaves don’t mess around. The beans right in front didn’t get to share the sun much longer!

3. Record your season

You already wrote down what you are going to grow, so use this same notebook to track when you started planting, little things to remember and even notes on the weather! It sounds silly, but it will be nice when you are trying to figure out when you planted and if it is time to harvest.

When you plant, mark what you planted. Especially if you start seedlings in the house in late winter. This way you will not have any surprises when stuff starts growing.

I have used popsicle sticks to mark plants and even skewers with tape wrapped around it. You can also buy cool ones made out of plastic that you can reuse! See what we are using this year here! Or you can hit up my all-time favorite potter at Pioneer Road Pottery to make custom garden stakes with the names of your plants stamped into them!

Also, photograph everything! You’ll want to be able to go back (like I am now!) and see what you grew, where you grew it and remember your successes! I took my phone or camera out to the garden with me nearly every day! (Even took some super dorky self-portraits… in a dress… with vegetables…) Moving on…

In conclusion:

Those are the three easy steps to plan a vegetable garden, no matter what size it is! Take action, become a green thumb! You can do it! Now for the bonus tips!

Pro tip: Something that will help you with all of this is the app “From Seed to Spoon.” I found this app just a week ago, and I’m obsessed. You can order seeds, learn all about what you want to grow, figure out how to handle pests and even blogs/vlogs about gardening. The app was developed by home gardeners! They are very down to Earth and so nice!

Double pro tip: Another digital resource app I plan to use is called “My Garden.” This app helps growers of all kinds by offering them articles, tips, and tricks catered to what you’re growing! Veggies, ornamental and every plant in between are found here!

And triple pro tip: My tried and true resources that go seriously in-depth are second-hand gardening books! Go to book sales and thrift shops and peruse the gardening section! I found so many great resources. Yes, you could Google stuff, but if you’re a book person this is a great alternative!

colorful sunset over a green backyard
This sunset last June was amazing!

OK, I think this is more than enough! I truly hope this is helpful and that you can take something away from it! I’m not an expert gardener, but these steps help me every year. They help make me a better gardener and help me learn something new with each season!

Just think, with a few steps, you’ll be growing your OWN food. I might be a little more passionate about veggie gardening than some people, but I just love the idea of feeding my family food that I grew for a fraction of the cost and without sacrificing the nutrition and fun!

Do you have any necessary steps you take when you are preparing your garden? I’d love to hear all about them! Thanks for reading!

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