Skip to main content

How to Plan Your First Vegetable Garden


I grew up in a family that loved to garden.  This picture was taken in the 80's and behind me is a picture of my grandparents' garden.  It was huge, in perfect rows (thanks to my grandma and her meticulous nature), and consisted of so many great veggies.  Starting a garden is so much fun, but can be sooooo overwhelming.  So I am going to share with you how I started mine and what I do to maintain it.

Sun: The first, most important part of planning a garden is location.  You need to find a spot in your yard that will give you full sun for at least 6 hours a day, since most veggies require this.  My best advice is on a day you are home, go outside a few times, starting in the morning until late afternoon/early evening to see how much sun each spot of your yard gets to determine where the best place to start a garden is. You will also want to choose a spot that drains well.  

Plants: Next, think about what you want to grow.  The size of your garden depends on what you are growing and how much you are growing.  For example, peppers need to be spaced about 1.5 feet apart while tomatoes need to be spaced about 3 feet apart.  Some questions to ask yourself:

What do I want to grow?

How much of each do I want to grow?

Am I growing all annuals or will some perennials be mixed in? 

What are the spacing requirements for what I want to grow?

Spacing: The internet became my best friend when trying to figure out the spacing for each plant.  One website I love love love to use is They have an amazing garden planner that will also tell you when to start seeds inside to be ready to plant outside based on your grow zone.  They also give you so many tips, tricks, and SPACING REQUIREMENTS for all of the plants you are growing.

Let's recap.  We have chosen a spot that gets plenty of sun.  We have selected what veggies we want to grow.  We have researched spacing for each plant.  Now what do we have to consider or figure out?  The next two topics we will discuss when mapping out a garden are crop rotation (if you choose to do it) and the style of your garden (rows or sporadically planting).

Crop Rotation:  Crop rotation is something that I do in my garden and here's why.  Sometimes, sadly veggies get diseases and these diseases can live in the soil.  In addition, certain veggies eat up A LOT of nutrients where they were planted and despite amending the soil the following year, sometimes it is hard to get them all back (at least in my experience).  Here is a great article from Farmer's Almanac that talks about crop rotation and the different groups that each vegetable/fruit is categorized in:  In my garden, I mainly plant from the nightshades group (tomatoes, peppers, and potatoes) and the cucurbits (cucumbers, pickles, zucchini) and swap their spots every year.  Some suggest rotating crops in a 3 year schedule meaning if you plant cucumbers on the left side of your garden in 2021 you would not plant them there again until 2024.  I find that hard to do because of what I am planting and the amount of room I have so if I plant cucumbers to the left in 2021, I will not plant them there again until 2023.  For me, it is not perfect, but it is better than nothing.  Something to keep in mind are perennial plants.  They will typically stay in the same spot every year unless you decide to transplant them, so if you are planting perennials, keep that in mind if you are doing crop rotation. I have a separate, smaller garden for my strawberries and asparagus which are perennials in grow zone 6, so that is another option too.  

Style of Garden: Are you planning on planting in rows or maximizing garden space and just planting specifically to spacing requirements?  I used to just plant sporadically and water my garden with my hose.  But.... between watering with my hose (the water hits the leaves all the time despite me trying to avoid this) and the rain coming from above, my tomatoes were beginning to develop some diseases, which ultimately can kill the plant.  I bought and installed a drip system myself.  I have three rows of tubing that are 50 feet each, therefore I was forced to plant in rows.  What I like about planting in rows  is that it gives me more room to walk in my garden and harvest my crops when the time comes.  This is a link to the drip kit I got:  Below you will see the start of my garden with the three black tubes going all the way down.  That is my drip system!

Drawings: I created a drawing for my garden to help me visualize what it would look like, in addition to remembering where I was going to plant everything.  Since I do crop rotations, I have two different gardens drawn for each year that I will alternate.  Below is a copy of mine, just as an example, if you can even read that :).

Some thoughts... What I love most about my veggie garden, outside of eating everything, is the fulfillment I get to watch it grow.  The amount of veggies I get is unbelievable that I have harvested for such a small cost.  Also, friends and family really look forward to you sharing some of your homegrown veggies (and in my case, my pickles and pesto made from my garden)!


Popular posts from this blog

My Must Have Wreath Making Tools: Tools Every Wreath Maker Needs

  Clauss 7" Wire Cutter My wire cutter is probably my most used tool.  Within the stems of artificial flowers, there is a wire, and it is pretty hard to cut with a scissor.  Not only is it hard to cut, but it can actually ruin your scissors (trust me, I learned that first hand). Sure Bonder Glue Pot My second most favorite item I used while making wreaths is my glue pot.  I like this brand, but you can really use anything you like.  Some people even use electric skillets.  What I like about the glue pot is you do not have to worry about inserting new glue sticks and waiting for them to heat and you do not have to continuously hit a button like a traditional glue gun.  The only downfall of a glue pot is the amount of time it takes to heat up.  Usually when I know I will be making a wreath, I run upstairs, turn it on, and then finishing whatever it is I am doing so that by the time I am done, the glue is ready. Sure Bonder High Temp Glue Gun I do not use my glue gun a lot because of

Starting Seeds Inside: Grow Lights

I live in New Jersey and am not a fan of the winter.  It is sooooooooooo cold and that make me stay inside, the plants and trees are no longer green, and that the days are dark by 4:30pm.  To help break up the winter months a bit, I began starting my plants that I use in my garden from seed inside my home.  I have started many different plants from seed including: basil, rosemary, dill, oregano, cilantro, bell peppers, varieties of hot peppers, varieties of tomatoes, cucumbers pickles, zucchini, pumpkins, watermelon, eggplant, johnny jump ups, pansies, petunias, calibrachoa, vinca, and marigolds. There are so many different options for grow lights.  When I first bought a grow light, I bought a miniature one, forgetting how excessive I become when I really love something.  Fortunately I was able to exchange it for a bigger one and boy was I impressed.  I buy a lot of my gardening equipment and accessories from   They have very high quality products, are so ni

Different Ways to Preserve and Store a Wreath

 I have been asked so many times, how I store all of my wreaths.  Since I make wreaths and am fortunate to have a work space in my home, I have all of my wreaths either on wreath stands or hanging on the wall using thumbtacks.  Purchasing a high quality wreath can be costly, I know, but it is all worth it, especially if you learn how to store and preserve it.  To start, I always recommend my customers to try to keep their wreath in a protected location outside, avoiding full, direct sun.  If left in the elements, the wreath will not last long as rain and strong winds can be damaging.  The sun also fades the colors in the wreath.  Sometimes, this is unavoidable, but you must be prepared to most likely purchase a new wreath each year. If you are able to keep the wreath somewhat protected outside, then you will most likely be able to use it the following year if not years.  There are many different ways you can store a wreath and also many ways you should avoid storing your wreath.  The b