Thursday, February 3, 2011

Planning Our Garden

Today, I read a great article on Surburban Hobby Farmer about tools available for garden planning. I was so inspired by it, that I decided to try the free online tool they linked to from Gardeners Supply Company to design this year's garden.  Last year, I painstaking drew out the garden in Illustrator.  I must say, using this free online tool was much easier.  There were some disadvantages to using this tool.  For one, it didn't have every conceivable vegetable, only the most popular ones.  It also didn't have many fruits or flowers on the list either.  So for those missing fruits and veggies, I had to fill them in using Photoshop.  This is the garden plan that I created for inside our picket fence garden using the tool.  This year, we are doing only raised beds that are 4 by 8 feet, so what's nice about the tool is that it indicates how many plants of each vegetable you should plant in the square.  However, I'm a bit suspect about some of the larger plants.  The tool said you can put one summer squash per each square foot, which I don't think will give it much room at all.  Squash plants are pretty large, so I think one squash plant per every 4 square feet might be better, as indicated below.  I couldn't move the squash image to the middle of the 4 squares so I put it on the 2nd square.  I'm thinking of putting radishes in between the squash plants, since radishes grow so fast.
Some of the disadvantages of using this tool are the following.
  1. This tool doesn't have the ability to label the images with text.  It would be nice if I could put labels on the images because some of the images look alike, for example the image for swiss chard looks like spinach.
  2. It also doesn't show which vegetables are companion plants.  
  3. Since they only show a selected list of vegetables, it would be great if they allow you to fill-in your own vegetable for the missing ones.
However,  it is a pretty cool free tool and I'll use it in the future.  The advantages of this tool are the following.
  1. It is free.
  2. It lets you save the garden designs you plan online.
  3. It's an easy to use drag and drop user interface.  So it's pretty intuitive.
  4. It provides planting tips for each selected vegetable.
Since this diagram is small, you can click on the image to bigify.  This is what is shown below.
Top Left: Cucumbers, broccoli, swiss chard, brussel sprouts
Top Right: Pole beans, cauliflower, lettuce, radishes, marigolds, canteloupe melon
2nd Row Left: Tomatos
2nd Row Right: Beets, carrots, leeks, celery, spinach, eggplant
3rd Row Left: Snow peas, snap peas, okra, peppers, scallions
3rd Row Right: Parsnips, onions, scallions, kale, mustard greens
Last Row Left: Strawberry
Last Row Right: Radish, summer squash

We also put in some raised beds outside of the picket fenced garden.  In one of the beds, we planted hard neck garlic.  The other bed, I think I want to do an herb garden.  Right now I have herbs growing in pots, but I think I want to devote a whole bed to it, especially after seeing the one that Corner Gardener Sue has.  Her herb garden is stunning! I have two more beds to put in behind the garlic and herb garden.  We are not sure what we are growing in here yet.  I'm open to ideas.   It doesn't get sun all day, in the late afternoon it's pretty shady.  What do you think we should grow in these beds?
There's still time to enter into the Urban Farmer herb kit giveaway. To enter, leave a comment here.


  1. I love the tool online tool at but there is a fee. they also have lots of links and helpful articles and posts...Had not tried this tool...will look into it..thx

  2. It looks like you have a lot of planning done! Yeah!

    I have my herb garden near the kitchen. I also plant certain annual herbs in amongst the veggies. Many herbs are beneficial to the veggies and deter unwanted pests. There are many good resources out there on this subject. A good book for this and garden planning is "Carrots Love Tomatoes" by Louise Riotte.

  3. What an interesting way to plan your garden, it's very nice that you are able to add pictures like that. It sounds like you will have a very interesting variety of plants this next fun. Also, I just read your previous post...all I can say is wow, that food sounds and looks amazing and I loved hearing about your New year traditions.

  4. I am curious about how you chose to place marigolds between your radish and canteloupe. Any particular reason for that in regards to companion planting or anything?

  5. If that is the page that I think it is, you can label but it messes with the pictures. I "accidently" discovered that just this year.

  6. It looks like you are planning on some wonderful varieties this year. I wish I had a strawberry bed and really should plan on adding one soon.

    Will you be using trellis along the north sides of your raised beds? If so, I suggest moving your pole beans, cucumbers, and cantaloupes to the squares in front of the trellis. These will grow up the trellis and free up some growing space in the rest of the garden. Also, the trellis should be on the north side of your garden so the plants won’t shade out other plants in your garden.

    I also think that your tomatoes will need more room. Mel Bartholomew (Author of All New Square Foot Gardening) suggests one bush type tomato occupy 4 squares. These could be supported with tomato cages. Vineing types of tomatoes can be planted 1/square along a trellis, but will need some pruning to keep them in their spots. Air circulation is really important with tomatoes to help them stay disease free.

    Oh, I agree that one summer squash per square foot is really tight. I usually plant summer squash in my in-ground garden and have an 8-foot wide row that has three summer squash plants. Even then, they do spread out over the edges of the garden. You can use a tomato cage like EG at Our Engineered Gardendoes.

    I can’t wait to watch your garden grow.

  7. Now I'm feeling supr lazy that we haven't even put up single raised bed. I will have to get cracking, or I will lust after you garden all summer long!

  8. You are going to have to buy another freezer!!!

  9. Love it! You are going to be very, very busy!

  10. Looks like a great tool. I like the idea. I hope your little plot grows well, look forward to see it all grow

  11. Thanks for the link. I have bookmarked it :). Have fun and good luck with your garden.

  12. Hi Meems,
    Thanks for the nice words about my herb garden and the link. It's cool when others think it looks good, when I was a bit embarrassed about all the weeds.

    I see someone did mention the tomatoes needing more room. You have a great plan, but you did not include my favorite veggie to grow. I always grow a variety of lettuces, spinach, and such. That area would be perfect for them, as they don't like it when it gets hot. Start planting as soon as the soil can be worked. I start in February, then plant more every couple of weeks or so until I have enough, or it starts to get hot. I also grow kale.

    Oh, and I'd have a couple summer squash plants in a bed, in case one of them didn't make it.

  13. We use GrowVeg too but pay a yearly fee although it isn't expensive.

  14. I can't wait to try this! I always get out my colored pencils every year when garden planning <-- what can I say I never got over coloring books. LOL!


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