by Texas Homesteader ~
Are you starting your garden planning yet? My garden planning method each year is EASY! Come see how I decide what vegetables to plant each spring. I’m quickly able to plan crop rotation, see what I planted and where last year, companion-planting notes, the 3 Sister’s Method and MORE!
(Note: Some links in this post will take you to other related articles for further information. But links preceded with * are affiliate links. If you click and buy something I could receive a tiny commission.)
Planning My Vegetable Garden
I’ve been spending time daydreaming about both warmer weather and what I’d like to plant in my vegetable garden.
We’re located in Northeast Texas planting zone 8a so we enjoy a pretty long growing season. But it seems spring just can’t come soon enough.
But how do I decide what goes in the garden each year?
I like to use primarily heirloom seeds. But I still enjoying placing actual seedling plants in the ground each spring.
So I start with an indoor greenhouse to get a jump on things. Now what seeds shall I get started for this year’s garden?
Plant What You Like To Eat
Of course the most important decision on what to plant in the garden is deciding what veggies we’d most like to eat.
It doesn’t do much good to have a veggie plant take up valuable garden-area real estate all year if we eat it only in moderation.
RancherMan & I love green beans and tomatoes, red potatoes and squash, jalapenos & onions so of course those things are a shoe-in for our garden.
We also typically plant at least a few cucumbers and cantaloupe. Occasionally we add watermelon and others. But after we’ve planned for our must-haves, how do I decide what to plant to fill the remaining garden space?
Tracking Planting Year-to-Year
Work smarter, not harder as RancherMan always says. One of the biggest planting decision aids for me is a spreadsheet where I’ve formatted my own garden’s layout. The first year that I decided to track my garden this way it took a little time initially to lay it all out.
So if you’re also planning to use Excel to track your garden details and formatting a spreadsheet for your garden keep in mind that the time you put in now laying out your own garden’s layout will take some time initially. But it will save you lots of time in the future.
Now each consecutive year I simply add another tab for the current year and copy/paste the garden layout to the current year’s tab. Then I start plugging in my planting selections.
NOTE: The photo above is an example of my own garden’s layout. Your garden layout will be different but this photo shows what mine looks like. For your own garden you can use a *Garden Planner Notebook or maybe some sort of*Downloadable Garden Planner . And I’ve heard good things about Clyde’s Garden Planner too. (I’m not personally familiar with these products, just offering something to get your search started.)
Of course you could also format something similar to what I’ve done on your own *Spreadsheet Software.
I much prefer an excel spreadsheet. Using it I have past year’s garden plantings right at my fingertips. And I can compare by simply clicking another year’s tab and looking over what I planted where then. That helps me make sure I’m rotating my crops each year.
At the bottom of my garden layout I also made a list of what variety seed I’m using and whether or not it’s heirloom.
Garden Planning For Rotational Planting
There are some permanent beds in my garden such as the asparagus bed and the Concord grapevines. But the other beds are mine to plant as I choose.
I know it’s wise to rotate your vegetables to a different location each year since different plants use different amounts of soil nutrition and attract or repel different pests. By rotating your crops you can (hopefully) outwit those pesky bugs as well as soften the nutritional drain from your soils.
Plus armed with my notes of last year’s garden I know what veggies didn’t do so well and which ones did. Sometimes failure in the garden is because of a specific variety I’ve chosen to plant. But oftentimes it’s all about location.
For instance there’s a large tree just south of my garden. The sun shifts toward the north during the summer so shade from the tree is not an issue in those deep summer months.
But in early spring when the sun is still somewhat southerly that tree can cast a shadow, keeping the soil from warming as quickly. Seeing in a past year that this was an issue with heat-loving- plant’s growth vigor, I now keep this bed for my cooler weather early spring plants.
Some Plants Don’t Play Well Together
There are also certain plants that do not get along. They’re like squabbling children on the playground!
I found out the hard way when I planted my green beans between two short sections of onions one year even knowing those two veggies don’t get along.
lazy busy & didn’t want to dig up & relocate my small onion rows on either side of the green bean planting so I figured “eh, let’s see what happens”.
Bad decision. My green bean plants were in sad shape and produced small misshapen pods until they finally gave up early in the season.
Lesson learned – no green beans next to the onions! As a matter of fact this year I’ve planted almost all of my onions in their own bed, far away from my green beans.
Just like there are veggie plants that don’t get along, there are other veggie plants that are best pals.
For instance, corn is a heavy feeder from soil nutrients but when you plant beans with them some of that nitrogen is replaced helping the corn to grow.
If you then plant squash amongst the corn & beans you’ve planted the “Three Sisters” garden, each one complementing the other.
Native American Indians knew the wisdom of the three sisters garden. The corn grows tall, the pole beans use the corn stalk for support and also stabilize the corn plant from wind & provides nitrogen to help the corn.
The squash vines aided by the nitrogen from the beans grow long to cover the soil both protecting it from the hot sun & preserving moisture.
And there are other benefits to best-pal veggie planting, some combinations actually protect each plant from pests.
Did you know that planting garlic throughout your garden repels aphids & beetles?
Or that planting onions & carrots together help control rust flies & some nematodes? Aaaahhh the plant world is remarkable indeed.
By using my garden planning spreadsheet all of this information is on a tab right there on my planner so I can refer to it to make sure I don’t repeat the green bean/onion fiasco of 2011.
Some years when planting season has sneaked up on me I’ve just quickly rotated the beds planned. Bed 1 last year was simply planted in bed 2 this year, bed 2 planted in bed 3 and bed 3 planted in bed 1. All my companion plants are already together and enemies are apart. (c’mon now garden plants, play nice!)
But for the most part I like to plan what goes in each section and using this spreadsheet it’s a snap! If you want the ease in planning I strongly suggest you fire up an excel spreadsheet, format your garden layout and start tracking!
Are you doing any garden planning too? What are your tips for planting your veggie garden?
My Favorite Garden Hacks
- Easy Garden Planning Spreadsheet
- Getting A Jump: Planting An Indoor Greenhouse
- Repurposed Cardboard Seed-Starting Pots
- 3-Sister’s Garden – The Original Companion Planting
- Planting A Large Galvanized Trough
- Tricking Birds AWAY From Your Strawberry Plants
- Easy Compost For A Healthy Garden
- Propping Tender Seedlings
- Cheap (or FREE) Wood Mulch For The Garden
- Using Vining Plants For Living Mulch
- Homestead Hack: Remember Where You Planted Seeds
- Keeping Potted Plants Watered
- Planting A Blueberry Bush In Galvanized Tub
- Stevia – Growing Your Own Sweetener!
- How I Use EcoBricks In The Garden
- Repurposing A Coffee Can For Deep-Soak Watering
- How Leaves Benefit Your Garden
- My Simple, Zero-Waste Herb Drying Setup
- The Lazy Gardener’s Plant List – Plant Once, Eat For Years!
- How To Tell When Watermelon Is Ripe
- Luffa A Surprising Zucchini Substitute!
- How To Make Your Own Garden Soil
- Easy Homemade Seed Tape
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