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Planning the Vegetable Garden

Or More Precisely, Planning The Edible Garden


Two years ago, I designed my large 2,000 square foot garden space using Microsoft Excel.  It worked out ok, as I know the program pretty darn well with all the strategic planning, grant writing, and budgeting I’ve done over the years.  Anyway, my plan looked like this (click on the images to make them larger):


2008 Garden Plan - 1st Half

2008 Garden Plan - 2nd Half

Last year, we moved during the late Spring, so I didn’t bother to plan the garden much – my mom and I did some in-the-moment planning, and that was about it.

This year, I did it a little differently.  As one of the perks of blogging, I often receive offers of free “green” stuff – which I usually turn down because I don’t need more stuff and I don’t like reviewing products.  It’s not what this blog is about.  But I have made a couple of exceptions lately.  This one was a free annual pass to, an online Garden Planning software.


Here’s our new garden plan, using the GrowVeg software (click on the images to make them larger):


Back Yard:

Garden Plan 2009 - Backyard

Front Yard:

Garden Plan 2009 - Front Yard


I must say, it was easier, and more fun than Excel!  Basically, it’s a simple tool, where you can drag and drop each item into your plan.  As you drag and drop, the crop takes up a given amount of space.  You can see in the Back Yard Plan, they’ve given me more space for winter squash and less for cucumbers, for example.  That feature is more or less accurate.  For some things I thought it was more accurate than others.


Unfortunately, there is currently a fairly limited selection of mostly fruits and vegetables, with just a few herbs and no specific flowers nor ornamentals.  For a backyard gardener, that becomes a bit limiting, though they do have 3 sizes of “Misc” plants – you can see quite a few in our Front Yard Plan.  My guess is that the software makers will add more items as they go.


A great feature, though, is this:  you type in your zip code, and it creates a planting chart based on your hardiness zone.


Front Yard List and Calendar

Backyard List and Calendar


The next step for GrowVeg would certainly be to allow one to edit the variety of each species, but this is a good start!  If you’re interested in trying it out, is running a 30-day free trial right now.


The Front Yard


First off, did you notice that we are expanding our edible garden into the front yard???!!!!!  Most of you know, but some of you may not:  Matt and I live in an apartment, in an area where there are waiting lists of up to 3 years for community garden plots.  So, I’m gardening with my mother at her place a couple of miles away.  Last year, we grew only in the backyard and on the upper deck in pots.  But this year, it was my mom’s idea to tear up some grass!!!! And replace a few of her old ornamentals with fruits and veggies!!!!!


In the Front Yard Plan above, you’ll see that we’re building a new fruit and herb garden in the upper left corner.  And we’re infiltrating the ornamental beds.  Very exciting!


The Back Yard


There was quite a lot of construction happening all fall and winter at my mom’s.  Subsequently, many of our herbs, flowers  and other perennials were destroyed.  My mom also hired a man to come dig out a couple of old rhododendrons, and, well… he misunderstood her and leveled the entire backyard!  A few things are coming back, but most are gone for good.  Somewhat a blessing in disguise, of course, because now we have almost a blank slate.


Our New Plant List


  • Artichoke, TBD (start from local nursery)
  • Bean, Purple Pod Pole
  • Runner Bean, Sunset
  • Runner Bean, Scarlet
  • Berry, Tayberry
  • Broccoli, Di Ciccio
  • Brussels Sprouts, Long Island
  • Cauliflower, Neckarperle
  • Collard, Champion
  • Swiss Chard, Five Color Silverbeet
  • Cucumber, Lemon
  • Flower, Black Velvet Nasturtium
  • Flower, Ladybird Nasturtium
  • Flower, Empress of India Nasturtium
  • Herb, Purple Dark Opal Basil
  • Herb, Genovese Basil
  • Herb, Greek Basil
  • Herb, Cilantro
  • Herb, Mammoth Dill
  • Herb, Rosemary Prostrate
  • Herb, Rosemary Roman Beauty
  • Herb, Lemongrass
  • Herb, Bay Laurel
  • Herb, Lavender Grosso
  • Herb, Tarragon French
  • Herb, Peppermint
  • Herb, Sage
  • Herb, Mint
  • Lettuce, Mesclun Mix
  • Melon, Noir des Carmes
  • Pea, Alaska
  • Pepper, Alma Paprika
  • Pepper, Aurora
  • Pepper, Chervena Chushka
  • Pepper, Joe Parker
  • Pepper, Little Bells
  • Pepper, Pepperoncini Greek
  • Pepper, Sweet Chocolate
  • Potato, Organic Yukon Gold
  • Potato, Red, Yellow & Blue Mix
  • Potato, Mountain Rose
  • Potato, French Fingerling
  • Potato, La Ratte Fingerling
  • Rhubarb, Victoria Cherry
  • Squash, Table Gold Acorn
  • Squash, Wood’s Prolific
  • Squash, Tromboncino
  • Strawberry, Tristar
  • Sweet Potato, Carolina Ruby
  • Tomatillo, Purple di Milpa
  • Tomato, Alaska Fancy Cherry
  • Tomato, Amish Paste
  • Tomato, Aunt Ruby’s Green Pole
  • Tomato, Silvery Fir Tree Bush
  • Tomato, Chocolate Cherry Tomato
  • Tomato, Japanese Black Trifele
  • Tomato, Roma Paste
  • Tomato, Sun Gold Cherry


And knowing us, there will probably be a few more fun things we squeeze in!


Have You Planned Your Garden?


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23 comments to Planning the Vegetable Garden

  • That is very cool. I’m not sure if it’s $25 cool though. This is my first year with a garden!

  • Nice! … sigh …

    Our planware is a sheet of 8.5X14 paper, with pencil and ruler, and when it has firmed up more, we’ll go over the pencil lines with a Sharpie. We’ve scanned it and printed out copies to fight over. The original is taped up in a corner of the whiteboard in the dining room.

    We’re good planners with animal husbandry but the garden is so — I dunno, we’re such incompatible gardeners that we take turns! This my garden year; my next one is in 2011 … we call it our crop rotation scheme …

    It’s that I’m much more about intercropping/polyculture. I like to companion plant to the ooint where each hill in a bed has no other hill of the same thing right next to it. Anecdotally, I seem to see much less disease, bolting, or insect damage if the spinach is hidden in a tent of bean vines. Whereas Beloved likes to say: “All the tomatoes at this end this year; all of them at the other end next year.” Same goal, somewhat different approaches. Both result in lots of food, though! :)

  • Wow! That is a fantastic list and a fantastic plan! From here, it looks like it is going to be wonderful to look at too with the variety of textures and shades you’ll have.

  • Cool! I’m going to go check that out!

  • I’m way too much of a wing it kind of person, but I do jot things down on scrap paper at times. This year for the first time I have labels outside where all my greens are going in the garden. If I had a new yard, I would definitely plan. I did when I first got this house. After a couple of years, I have the rotation system mostly down and don’t worry as much anymore.

  • is so cool! Cheap Vegetable Gardner is GIVING AWAY A Years subscription to their site! Deadline is today! hurry- hurry

  • I’m lucky enough to live in the Central Valley of California (I only say this when I can plant my garden way before the rest of the country. The rest of the year when it is blazing hot and the news leads off with how many days in row it has been over 100 degrees, I’m not so happy!) I have already planted most of my garden. I started my seeds in January and this weekend almost everything went in. I just put a list on my blog and it is too long to post here!

    This software would have been so helpful!

  • I’m moving to my new house in 3 weeks where, for the first time, I will attempt to grow an edible garden! I’m excited and scared at the same time because we’re coming into winter in Australia and I’m not sure exactly what I should be planting, or how to go about preparing the soil… ah, planning and research! Fun fun :)

  • Stacy

    Your garden looks like it will be excellent! It’s really well planned out, and I’m sure you’ll have a lot of success. Will you take pictures for us when things are growing?

  • I would love to create a landscape that is not only beautiful but produces something as well. We moved into our place over 5 years ago and this will be our first garden. I admit, I feel a bit overwhelmed at this point. But, I am grateful to have found your website…there is so much helpful information!

    So far, my harvested crops are limited to a transplanted a rhubarb plant (which did well enough to make one dessert) and the blackberries that were here when we moved in. I am taking the seed to seed challenge. I intend to keep track of my progress on my blog at

  • Love that you are planting edibles in your front yard. I have been trying to decide what to do with our front yard and am planning on an edible ornamental garden. I’ve also got lots of new strawberry plants i want to transplant – seeing your strawberries in your mums front yard has given me an idea…I had no space in the back yard – so i’ll put them in the front.

  • It always amazes me that for how much I like to organize things, I do so little of it for garden lay out. I usually just make a rough sketch each spring and then dive in. Chances are, it will be completely different when I’m done.

    I’ve got a few seeds in the ground, the potatoes, and some shallots. More coming this weekend. I hope it’s dry.

  • Rob

    I have been having a blast with Grow I won the years free subscription fromCheap Vegetable Gardener! But good news is right now at they are offering everyone a free 30 day trial! SO FOR ALL OF YOU JUST THINKING ABOUT IT YOU CAN USE IT , MAKE YOUR GARDEN PLAN FOR FREE!

  • My garden design doesn’t look as purty as yours but I am in full swing and starting to get stuff in the ground. Beautiful day for planting here in Nor Cal.

  • [...] I’ve already mapped out the plot with all the things we didn’t have enough space for at my mom’s, or that my mom just wasn’t inspired to grow.  Want to [...]

  • Hey you all, I’m so sorry I realized I never responded to your lovely words! I read every one, always, as they come in. I will try to respond more promptly, though – yikes. At any rate, kudos to those of you who are gardening anew or expanding your gardens. Please let me know along the way if you have questions I can answer or put forth to our community here.

    Congratulations, Rob! Stacy, will definitely post pictures. You can see what it looked like last year in the posts I tagged “Family Allotment” (there’s a link in the right sidebar of the blog). risa b, yes, our garden will also be intercropped, rather than in these neat little rows. I also think it helps with the bugs and mildews (a problem in the wet northwest). But if Matt were to have his way, it would be in neat rows, too. So funny!

  • [...] Planning the Vegetable Garden | One Green Generation [...]

  • Neat article on planning a garden!

    We have handy garden tool that is very useful for planning when to plant vegetables. It’s called Clyde’s Garden Planner and is a slide chart that indicate the best seeding and harvest times based on local frost dates. It has a sliding frost line, so it works in most of the US and Canada.

    Please check us out at

    So far Clyde’s Garden Planner has been useful to over 100,000 gardeners who want a productive harvest, including in our own backyard garden. I hope you all find it helpful too :)

  • Jim

    It is cool to see what people are using to plan their gardens, as well as the plans they come up with. I tried GrowVeg when I was trying to plan a 4000 s.f. market-garden and CSA and thought it was neat, but didn’t quite work for my needs. I ended up using the Fantastic Farm and Garden Calculator It isn’t a design program like GV, but a calculator where you enter your production goals and it tells you how much you can grow, how much space for each crop, etc. I already had my rows laid out, so I didn’t need a garden design program, I needed hard facts. Since I was doing biointensive planting with intercropping and succession planting, the FFGC was the way to go. Also, since I was going to start a small CSA, I needed to know exactly how much food I could produce on my land, and how many people I could feed. I ended up growing around 4000 lbs of food on my 4000 s.f., and fed 25 CSA members.

    While it may not be for total newbie gardeners, there are versions for gardeners and farmers, and three different skill levels. (Then again I was a newbie farmer, so maybe it is good for newbie gardeners too, as long as they understand the basics of gardening.) Just thought I’d mention it in case any of your readers are interested.

  • [...] Take into account size and how much light it needs when you’re deciding where to plot things. Again, here is a very fancy version which I created last year with some online software: [...]

  • [...] want to. My plan (image above) is done in Adobe InDesign. And here’s an interesting plan I ran across. The whole thing was done in Excel, with the cells used to create the graph squares. Click on the [...]

  • [...] want to. My plan (image above) is done in Adobe InDesign. And here’s an interesting plan I ran across. The whole thing was done in Excel, with the cells used to create the graph squares. Click on the [...]

  • Jim

    I made a vegetable garden last year, about 200 pants, tomatoes, lots of peppers, beans, carrots…the works. I spend a few days planning it out and I thought I had made a really good plan. I just went over your plan, you are an garden planning pro!

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