Thoughtful planning is the first real step in growing a successful vegetable garden.
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The best thing you can do for your vegetable garden is to plan ahead and know what you will grow and where you will put it. An unplanned garden can often lead to stress and frustration for gardeners, as some plants end up sprawling over others, or cool loving plants are mistakenly grown in the heat of the season and vice versa. The time you spend preparing for your gardening year ahead and learning how to plan your vegetable garden will pay you back in a bountiful harvest and hours of enjoyment.
Write a list of the vegetable plants you want to grow. These should be foods you and your family will eat.
Look up each vegetable on your list in a reference book or online to find out the spacing requirements, the size at maturity, the number of days to maturity, and when each should be planted in the garden.
Use your tape measure to get an accurate size measurement for your garden. If there is more than one section on your property where you wish to grow vegetables, then measure them all and write each set of measurements down on a sheet of paper.
Chart your garden space out on graph paper, making each square of graph paper represent a 6-by-6 inch space in your actual garden. Note the position of North and South in relation to your garden on your graph.
Begin to plan the layout of the vegetable garden following the spacing guidelines on your list and how many plants you want of each type of vegetable. Keep in mind that taller plants generally work better to be in your northern end of the garden, so they don't block out the light for smaller plants.
Create a variety of plans for your garden area so you have a few designs to choose from, and color them in, if desired. You can also maximize your space by choosing to grow some vegetables in containers, such as tomatoes, cucumbers or zucchini, to make room for others in the garden bed.