Planning a Veggie Garden


The kitchen garden of my dreams. Image courtesy Monty Don.
The kitchen garden of my dreams. Image courtesy Monty Don.

Given that we have the ultimate blank slate when it comes to our outdoor space, it's been tough to choose where exactly to start planting, but we ultimately agreed that the veggie beds should take the spot at the top of our list. Not only will it start providing some yummy additions to our kitchen, but this will arguably be the most fun and interactive garden for our family. Vegetable gardens do require a bit of planning – perfect for these dreary wintery days – especially if you're starting your plants from seed like we are. So here's a rundown on the basics of planning your vegetable garden and a glimpse of what we'll be growing this spring.


1. Pick your favorites

There's no point in growing things you don't enjoy eating, so go ahead and select your favorites. This spring we're starting out with:

- Broccoli

- Lacinato kale

- Green onions

- Tomatos

- Peppers

- Pickling cucumbers

- Potatoes

- Spinach

- Red lettuce

For this batch, I ordered seeds from Annie's Heirloom Seeds and have some other favorite sources listed here. Order these ASAP as they sell out quickly!

Sammy the cat closely examined our seeds upon arrival. We bought our veggie seeds from Annie's Heirlooms.
Sammy the cat closely examined our seeds upon arrival. We bought our veggie seeds from Annie's Heirloom Seeds.

2. Choose your planters

Depending on your space, you may not have much of an option but it's important to decide up-front where and in what you'll be planting your veggie garden. I'm a big fan of growing vegetables in raised beds or planters as they allow you to customize the soil blend (most veggies like it very rich and compost-y) and also ensure good drainage (essential for successful herb and veggie growth). From a practical standpoint it can also make tending to them easier since you won't have to bend all the down. If you'd prefer an in-ground vegetable bed, that works too! Just be sure to add lot's of compost to your soil.


If a prefabricated planter is what you need, I highly recommend 2020's unofficial item of the year, the VegTrug (available in a myriad of sizes). If you'd rather have something less rustic-looking, these fiberstone planters from West Elm are also a good option (don't get the gray/ficonstone because they will disintegrate if you leave them outside during the winter).

We've opted to go with raised beds and will be building them out of cedar. Our space isn't perfectly level, so we need to be able to customize them (plus, I can't resist a carpentry project). If your backyard space is level, you can also get a raised bed kit like this one from Gardener's Supply.


3. Map it out

Sketching out the garden design and color coding the raised beds helps get things organized ahead of planting.
Sketching out and color coding the raised beds helps get things organized ahead of planting.

If you're planning to take on more than just a single planter, I highly recommend mapping out your vegetable garden. In our case, we're building 6 raised beds – 2 for cut flowers and 4 for vegetables – and intend to establish a rotation of plants to take us through the seasons. Putting pen to paper and plotting everything out has been essential to help me figure out how much we can grow, what seeds to start first, and come springtime will make planting day a whole lot easier.


I'll use this plan as we move through the seasons to track what is growing where, and what we'll plant up next as things go in and out of season.