Vegetable garden plan

6 steps to create a super simple vegetable garden plan

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Creating a vegetable garden plan doesn’t have to be hard. In fact, taking the time to draw out a plan will make your life much easier, trust me. Planting the vegetable garden used to be super stressful for me. I would go out to the garden each spring and just start planting stuff with no plan.

Soon I would run out of room in the garden, but I’d still have tons of seedlings left over. It was always very frustrating.

Of course I didn’t want all those seedlings (that I babied for months) to go to waste, so I ended up cramming them into the garden. As a result, my vegetable garden was always overcrowded, which made weeding and harvesting difficult. Plus, my claustrophobic plants produced less vegetables because they didn’t have enough room to grow.

Ugh, I used to make it so difficult for myself.

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Drawing a vegetable garden plan sounded like a lot of work, and I figured I would need some fancy computer program or something. Well, as it turns out, it isn’t that hard… and ends up making life much, much easier in the long run.

Without planning ahead, it’s difficult to figure out how many seeds you’ll need to start for your garden, and it also makes crop rotation pretty much impossible (unless you have a photographic memory, I do not!). My garden planning has become a bit more sophisticated over the years as I’ve gained experience, but I started out very simple.

Garden plan drawn with graph paper

Garden plan drawn with graph paper

If you have a technical mind, you could pull out the graph paper and get to work measuring and calculating, and drawing everything to scale. I never used to do this, but I finally gave it a try after we added fixed raised beds in our garden. That made using the graph paper super easy, since most of the beds are rectangular, and the same size.

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But before I got brave enough to attempt using graph paper (and before we added the raised beds), I just drew out my plans freehand. How’s this for artistic ability?

Vegetable garden rough sketch

Vegetable garden rough sketch

Heck, it doesn’t even need to be THAT fancy. Check out this vegetable garden plan my husband and I drew up the other day while waiting for our food at a restaurant. Yep, those are cocktail napkins.

Community garden planning cocktail napkins

Community garden planning cocktail napkins

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How to create a super simple vegetable garden plan:

  1. Make a list of everything you want to grow in your vegetable garden.
  2. Draw a rough outline of your vegetable garden on a piece of paper (or a cocktail napkin if you prefer).
  3. Now add in any hardscapes or raised beds that are in your garden.
  4. Next, draw out a rough sketch of where you’ll plant stuff, and where the walking paths through your garden will be.
  5. Think about where you want to plant each crop, and how to group them to make rotation easier.
  6. Visualize what your vegetable garden will look like when it’s full grown. Are you allowing enough space for you to reach all of your beds, and easily move around in the garden?

Taking the time to draw out your vegetable garden plan (even if it’s a crude sketch on cocktail napkins) will make your life much easier come spring. Plus it’s fun to go back and look at the plans of your gardens from the past and remember what you planted each year, and what your gardens looked like. Oh, and keeping all those old garden plans makes it much easier to rotate your crops too!

How about you, do you take the time to plan out your vegetable garden ahead of time, or do you wing it every spring? Tell us about it in the comments below.

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9 Responses to 6 steps to create a super simple vegetable garden plan

  1. Victoria says:

    I agree on the importance of The Plan but what stumps me isn’t doing what you’ve described in this post, but how to add that tricky fourth dimension, time. Where I live in Argentina is the equivalent to Zone 9b, so year-round veggie production, and the heat means summer is often NOT the most productive time. So that planning process needs to take into account a constant rolling planting that covers the entire year. I have fixed beds, so I was thinking of printing out 12 blank plans, one for each month, to see if that helps me visualize things moving forward… Apparently one day it’ll all be intuitive, but till then…

  2. Angie says:

    I LOVE planning m garden – it’s the only gardening thing I can do in the dead of winter before I’m able to plant my seedlings. I look at what I did the previous year – to make sure rotations work well, or best that they can. I look at what did well, what did, what we had too much of, what we wished we had more of. Then, I plop down with the seed catalogs and decide everything I’m going to grow. I work it over for days trying to squeeze in everything I want to try until I have a plan figured out.

    Reality sets in after the last frost, and sometimes these plans get changed. But for the most part, they stay pretty solid. I always have new things that I want to try – varieties AND gardening techniques. So I always make sure to have lots of room for those.

  3. Danny Young says:

    Add anther step to the above list…(for next season)
    7)..When the garden is up & growing take some photos with the date stamp turned on. Print them off & file them with your garden plan. You can also list the plants & variety on the back of the photo.
    Next winter when you start the new garden plan you can refer to your previous sketches, notes & photos. This will make laying out the new garden easier.

  4. Darlene Parah says:

    in making your plan not only rotate your crops u should plan on companion planting when doing so

  5. Ruth Quinlan says:

    Such a lovely plan! The bean and squash arches are a very good idea. I wouldn’t think of that by myself and I’m surely including at least one arch in my garden plan this year. Got some more good ideas from your post. Thank you for sharing!

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