Start Planning Your Garden


With the new year upon us, it’s time to start planning your garden. For some, your planning (and seedlings) are already under way. For others (further north?) you may not have thought much about it yet with the cold and snow.

The thing is, planting time will be here before you know it…


Plan your garden

It’s good to have a plan.

Even if only for a guide or to get you thinking about the upcoming project.


Start planning your garden spaces

When it comes to gardening, there are some who think that they don’t have enough outdoor space to grow a garden. My answer to that is: You would be surprised how little space you need to grow some productive food that you can enjoy!

Even if you don’t want to dig up part of your yard, there are ways around that issue which will enable decent growing of vegetables.

So, what are your options?

Simply section off a sunny part of your yard for a garden. If there’s grass there now, you’ll have to dig up the sod.

Look around and maybe you’ll find an area with no grass which could be easy to implement as a garden space. A strip of earth – a foot or two wide along an edge might produce a surprising amount of food. Look around for these places that are hiding in plain sight.

Even a 4×8 foot space will produce some plentiful bounty (look into square-foot gardening).

Raised beds might be your perfect garden. They’re fairly easy to build with planks of wood, logs, stones, etc..

Container gardening is a great way to overcome limited space. You can choose varying size containers, and they’re perfect for a deck.

Here’s an idea that not everyone will consider — use your existing landscaping to squeeze in some food producing plants or vegetables. You might be surprised to find out how just a little bit of space between bushes or shrubs, etc.. will produce good eating food. Let’s call it ‘landscape gardening’.

Point is… start thinking about it. Sketch up a rough diagram on a sheet of paper. Start deciding what you will grow this year. If you’re going to start seedlings indoors yourself – you better get started… Winter is almost over!





  1. I got a couple sweet potatoes buried in a pot by the front window. Guess maybe I will plant some tomatoes, banana peppers, poblano peppers, and some cabbage seeds this weekend in my starting trays. Under another winter storm warning, not much else to do. Just waiting.

    1. Have you done sweet potatoes before? Any differences growing them compared with regular potatoes? I’ve done regular ‘white’ potatoes but am curious to try sweet (or Yams) – they’re healthier too…

      1. They like it HOT! You need a frost-free growing season of 100 days (or more). Once harvested, you cure them at 85-90 degrees (five days) for good taste and the ability to store well.

        1. Thanks for the tip. Looks like northern latitudes are largely ruled out, while southern and some western regions would probably be successful with the sweet potato…

  2. We’ve still got 10-inches of snow on the ground, but I am Jones’n to get my gardens going. Got six 4×8 box gardens, plus strawberry and raspberry patches. Garlic went in in September – should be ready by June-ish.

    Looking to put in two plum trees this spring, that should be the extent of my improvements for the season. Have expanded capacity every spring (started at zero six years ago). Have two 4x4x4 compost piles I use for all of my garden soil, plus horse manure from a nearby stable – trying to keep as natural (and sustainable) as possible.

    1. You bring up a good thought — to make improvements every season. That’s a good way to think about it… make it better every year – more food production and self-sustaining plantings.

  3. The second picture illustrates a mistake I made. I put the raised beds next to a fence. Made it hard to weed and hard to harvest big plants like tomato and gourds. Couldn’t see when things were ripe on the back side.

    Looking forward to single digit temps this weekend. Fortunately, I’m staying home.

    1. Live and learn! I’m still making mistakes every season!

      Regarding the c-c-cold weather, that’s part of the reason I posted this today – it helps to start thinking about Spring while we’re enduring the remaining blasts of winter ;)

  4. Ken, sweet potatoes are easy to grow. I was taught to dig a trench, fill it with manure, make a row (tall mound) for your slips. Let em grow, dig before frost.
    I just get a couple sweet potatoes, stick them in water until they have sprouts. Pull the sprouts off and stick them in a glass of water. They will grow roots. These are your slips.

  5. Ken… the white (regular) potato grow tubers above the seed potato, reasoning for hilling them. The sweet potato is planted on a hill/mound cause the tubers are grown below or on the root system.

  6. I live in north Georgia on the TN border. We have a lot of water restrictions here so I have been using planters for my garden. If they see you using water to water a garden in the ground you can get a hefty fine. I would like to “sneak’ a regular garden in the back yard this year as we didn’t have a lot of veggies like I wanted but like i said we have water restrictions so if I do decide to put in a bigger garden in the ground I will have to be careful about my watering.

    1. Hi Wildbill. The need for water restrictions will affect so many across the country. All the more reason to think of how to retain moisture and capture rain. The biggest consideration is heavily mulching. This keeps the soil cool and without drying out making it difficult to rehydrate when there is rain. The mulch itself holds so much water that it acts as a sort of reservoir for the plants and microorganisms in the soil to survive.

      Thinking in permaculture terms, look to conturing your land if you haven’t already, and digging a swale along the conture line and placing the soil you have dug onto the side below the contour swale. This mound of soil is called a berm. This swale is then filled with mulch and serves to hold water coming from the ground above it, allowing it to “sink” into the swale soil and feed roots at a deeper level that are in the adjacent downhill berm.

      Do you save your rainwater runoff? How about your household greywater? These will be essential in the future times if your access to water by pump or community water supplies is limited or no longer existant. For now the greywater from your home will easily assist you in the garden. Using completely biodegradable or biocompatible cleaning items will be necessary to secure your soil and plants from uptaking what you don’t want in them.

      If you have raised bed boxes I recommend building the edges with a board or other means as wide as possible and slightly slanted into the bed so that when there IS rain, the “bench” serves as a larger water catch surface and directs the water into the bed itself. You’d be surprised just how much water can be “caught” in this way.

      Beyond that, and what many find difficult to think about, is collecting and using your own urine both as a nutrient source and additional water. You can collect it in a bottle and fill the rest of the bottle with what you would otherwise flush, if you aren’t already using a composting toilet. Maybe a family competition? Liquid Gold. A forgotten resource.

      Good luck!

      Anna Lee

  7. When I saw the hip surgeon he said surgery in summer so I thought garden would all be in & a few flushes of weeds taken care of by then but apparently summer is coming early because I got my date of March 31 a couple weeks ago & that means no gardening for 3 months. So what to do? Well my SIL runs a small green house so I put in an order with her as I can’t leave little plants without water for a week while I’m in the city. DH will have to plant & we are looking for a smaller area this year. I love to garden so maybe I will have some herbs on the window. We still have at least 2-3′ of snow and the lastest long range forecast is for cold until at least the end of Mar. With fresh veg. predicted to rise at least 20% that could take a wack out of a pension cheque. The big plus is that we had a tremendous garden last year so will have lots left over when a smaller garden starts & if DH can manage the picking & will be able to can & freeze if I take it easy. Definitely going to be a challenging year for me to behave my Dr. rules as I’m not used to just sitting. Hope you have a great gardening season everyone.

    1. if you’re to be a bit limited in movement/harvesting ability, try tossing in a few things new, some new herbs maybe, that you can leave to grow on its on, and then get someone to pull out en masse, and tie to dry in the back porch or something.

      also,sounds like you have a fair bit of ground worked up for garden, and with surgery are planning a much smaller one?

      maybe you could rent part out, or let out for exchange for a few helps to you/chores to you. with surgery you might need a hand. or, if no hand is needed, you may enjoy the extra company/companionship of a gardener thrilled to get a good garden spot for the season.

      also, have seen a bit about “straw bale planting” and vertical planting. maybe it would interest you to try these this year? no weeding/no bending to pick veg. Plop the bale in spot and plant bedding plants in top of bale. if rain is short, leave hose close buy to water. etc.

    2. A friend installed one last year. He was very pleased. If you add a timer you can sleep in. One problem he had, not being mechanically inclined, was getting the tubing on to the barbed pieces. Explained to him that liquid dish soap works as a lube and is food grade.

    3. I, too,m had hip surgery and found it so difficult to do as my Dr. said…rest mainly. Well, resting is good, strengthening exercises are good, but too much rest is not healthy after a time. Being out among your plants is healthy, and commuming with them is the best medicine! Best of luch with your recouperation!

      Anna Lee

  8. I garden year round, so planning takes place as I go. Right now I have Broccoli and cabbage coming ready, as well as herbs and various greens. Then there are the bags of seed I collected last Fall that need to be cleaned, packaged and labeled. Always something…Also planning which chickens to breed this year, my youngest hens are 3 years old, so I need young ones to replace them, which means butchering this summer and canning the meat….

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