Garden Guide:

The Garden Plan

“God Almighty first planted a garden. And indeed, it is the purest of human pleasures.”

 Francis Bacon 

Questions to Ask:

First: How much space do you have? 

The amount of space will determine how many things you can grow. Do you have one garden plot? A couple of raised beds? More space?

Second: What do you want to grow?

Vegetables? Herbs? Berries? Flowers? Some types of plants grow better (or worse) sharing space with others. Our garden plan will help us figure out what plants to place in which spots.

Third: What is the environment in your growing space?

If you do not have a spot with a lot of sun, there are many vegetables that will not grow as well. If you have sandy soil or clay soil, there are plants that will do better or worse in these spots. Knowing the light and soil qualities will also work into our garden plan.


Fourth: Do you have what you need to start some seeds ahead of time?

Starting a garden from seeds does take some time and effort, but it saves a great deal of money compared to buying plants. You also get to choose exactly what you are going to grow (if you have a favorite kind of tomato or pepper, for example).

Fifth: What was growing there last year?

While not everyone can change the plants growing in the garden every year, there can be some benefit to considering this question if you are at all able. This idea is called “crop rotation”, and will be discussed even more in another edition of “Garden Guide”.


Here is how we’ve been plotting our garden space for 2021.


Draw a map of the garden spaces

In my garden, space for new plants is mostly in raised beds. This year more have been added, too, so it’s becoming a bigger plan than last year’s.

Whatever size, draw out where you have space for your garden to grow. A diagram that lays out sections may be helpful if it’s a large plot of land, or a diagram that separates out a few raised beds if that is the set-up you have.

Make sure to leave space on your map for the map key, so you know what you will be planning on planting in each space.


Make a list of the plants that you want in your garden.

This will help you know what needs to be filled into the garden plan map. It will also help you figure out what plants you might be growing from seed, or finding at a garden store, market or nursery.

Assign specific plants or crops to specific spaces

Now it’s time to lay out where everything will be planted into the garden space.

Many plants can be grown as a patch of a single plant. Some plants, though, may benefit from growing near a different type of plant, a trick that is called “companion planting”. We will be talking about this idea much more soon!



Plan for the plants

Once you have figured out what fits in your garden and what you want to grow, it is time to find the seeds or plants to fill in the garden.

It might not surprise you that we strongly prefer to start most plants from seed. It’s fairly easy to do, as long as you make a good habit of checking the seedlings every day as they grow up. You also have so much more control over exactly what grows in your garden, and you can know for sure that plants were grown without chemicals or pesticides.


Garden Plan: The Garden Calendar


8-12 weeks before last frost



6-10 weeks before last frost


8-12 weeks before last frost

*Both tomatoes and peppers require warmth to sprout, and will benefit from a seedling heat mat


4-6 weeks for some, “very early” for others

When do we get started?

Step 1: Figure out the average last frost date for your location. This will help determine when seeds should be started, and when seedlings will be moving outside. 

Step 2: Determine when to start growing seedlings based on the last frost, plus when it is recommended by each type of seed (this will be on the seed packet). 

If you are unsure whether you can start the seedlings on a specific date, keep in mind: for most seeds, starting indoors a bit earlier is better than starting too late, as it gives them more growing time before moving outside. You may need to have some larger pots ready, though, to transplant up in size before they will be ready to move outdoors.

Also, if you know there is a period of time where you cannot take care of your seedlings (going on a vacation, for example), keep in mind you will either need someone to water them for you, an automatic way to water them (talk to an adult about this idea!), or should wait to start them until you will be able to get them growing and taken care of every day.