Vegetable Garden Planning Made Easy

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! 

How do you plan your vegetable garden each year? Come see my simple planning method. #TexasHomesteader

(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?

Garden Planning. How do I track previous planting info? Or companion planting? Or crop rotation? Come see my garden-planning tips. #TexasHomesteader

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.

Garden-Planning spreadsheet.Garden Planning - How I Decide What Vegetables To Plant Each Spring Using Past Experience, Companion Planting, 3 Sisters method, Etc #TexasHomesteader

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.

I was 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.

Companion Planting

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.

Garden Planning - How I Decide What Vegetables To Plant Each Spring Using Past Experience, Companion Planting, 3 Sisters method, Etc #TexasHomesteader

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?


This post categorized in

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My favorite gardening hacks all in one place. #TexasHomesteader

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38 thoughts on “Vegetable Garden Planning Made Easy

  1. Sheila Purvis

    I don’t see where I can download the spreadsheet.

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      The photo of my own garden’s excel spreadsheet layout in this post is meant to be a visual guide for what types of information you’d be able to include on your own document. Things such as companion planting, what seeds didn’t germinate well last year, what plants didn’t grow as hardy in various locations, etc. But my garden’s rows & beds layout will obviously be different from anyone else’s. You don’t have to use a spreadsheet software, many people use a garden planner notebook (I’ll revise this post & include a link to some garden planner notebooks you may like). But I enjoy the spreadsheet because I’m a lazy gardener and copy/paste works best for me. Whichever method you use, enjoy your garden! ~TxH~

  2. Barry Schalkle

    How do i get the spreadsheet

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      The spreadsheet is just an excel document I made up for my specific garden space, planting rows, garden dimensions, shape, etc. Each garden will be unique in all of these features, but it’s easy to work something up in Excel for each individual garden just as I did for mine. Have fun! ~TxH~

  3. Gaye @CalmHealthySexy

    I am getting very excited about garden season. We are planning to plant our “first shift” of plants this weekend. Thanks so much for sharing with the Let’s Get Real party.

  4. Heather

    Wow I just LOVE your big garden!! When we buy our land & build our dream house, I’ve already requested room for a garden 🙂 I currently have a small raised bed where I’ve planted okra, kale, basil, parsley & oregano and my husband said he’ll build me another this year, too! Yay! Squash, peppers, strawberries & cucumbers will go in there 🙂 Good to know about the veggie friends & enemies! Hopefully all mine get along!

  5. Jamie @ Medium Sized Family

    I never would have thought to plan my garden out on a spreadsheet! That’s a great idea, though, because my notes from year to year tend to get lost. I haven’t had even one raised bed for the past couple of years, but now that the baby will be a good 2 1/2 years old, it will be easier to get out there and work in the gardens this year.

  6. lisa M

    I wish I could figure out spreadsheets….yours looks awesome!

    Thanks again for linking up with Green Thumb Thursday! I hope you’ll join us this week too!


  7. Terri Presser

    Thank you for taking the time to share this with us at Good Morning Mondays, because we are coming into winter you are giving us heaps of time to plan. I especially like the spreadsheet. Blessings to you and yours.

  8. Julia@Happy House and Home

    Thank you for sharing this on Merry Monday! I always love reading your posts! I’m not very good at gardening, and I don’t have a lot of room, just half an acre, but I love fresh veggies in the summer. Maybe I’ll start slow and plant some veggies in containers this spring! Interesting about the beans and the corn too. 🙂 Julia

  9. Emily

    Garden planning in Excel? That is the best! I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of that. Thanks so much for the idea!! I love Excel…so I really am excited about this. 🙂

  10. Mindie

    Wow, you are way more organized then I am! I usually don’t make a plan till after I start my seeds (and I always start way to many.) Thanks you so much for sharing on the (mis)Adventures Mondays Blog Hop. I look forward to seeing what you share this week!

  11. Monica

    Great idea to use an excel spreadsheet to help plan your garden!! I’m in the planning stages right now. It will be my first “epic garden” so I’m excited to see what this year’s garden season brings! 😀

  12. Nan

    Beans, leaves, roots, fruits – I was taught that order for crop rotation!

  13. Jamie

    Great tips!! Living in the mountains and only having a few months of growing season, we have to plan really well. Hoping for great crops this year! 🙂

  14. Nancy W

    Great post! I can’t wait until I can get back in the garden, right now everything is buried under snow!
    Thanks for sharing your post on the HomeAcre Hop, hope to see you again tomorrow!
    – Nancy
    On The Home Front

  15. Terri Presser

    I like your plans and ideas. My husband and I start discussing our planting in the winter and then move onto planting after the frosts have stopped. We are nearly at the end of our growing season now but we have decided to build a rather big moveable hot house so that we can get our tomatoes in earlier and hopefully generate enough heat for them to grow. Thanks for sharing another great post at Good Morning Mondays. Blessings

  16. Carole

    You really should publish an ebook. I can help you do it if you decide to.

  17. Joy @ Joy Love Food

    Great tips! I wish our yard got more full sun so we could have vegetable gardens, for now it;s just flowers, herbs and blackberries. Thanks for sharing at What’d You Do This Weekend? 🙂

  18. Margy

    I draw a simple diagram in my journal each year. That way I can remember what went where so I can rotate my plants the following season. With such a small space for my garden I need to squeeze a lot into four beds. – Margy

  19. Lorelai @ Life With Lorelai

    I am impressed! I never thought of using Excel to draw a plan out like that before. This is awesome, and you have excellent advice and information to help our gardens grow. Thanks for sharing at the #HomeMattersParty 🙂 Hope to see you again next week.

    Life With Lorelai

  20. M.

    Thank you so much for this wonderful idea of using Excel for garden planning! I’m a newbie gardener (have only tried it for the first time 2 years ago) and I’m reading all sorts of ideas and tips. I’ve looked at gardening apps, but they don’t seem to give me the customization I need as my garden layout is a bit unique. Your post pretty much slapped me in the face: of course! Back to basics with Excel – why didn’t I think of that? Is this system still working well for you? I also like that you have a tab for companion plants (very helpful). What other tabs do you have to keep your plantings organized? Thank you again! ~M.

  21. Dawn

    Thanks for sharing this, it was chosen as a favorite on our From the Farm hop along with your post about pasta sauce…you’re pretty popular this week!

  22. Erlene

    Thanks again for sharing your fabulous post on gardening. I’ve pinned this so we can plan a little better next year.

  23. Tanya @ Seven Springs Homestead

    Thanks for sharing this post at The Green Thumb Thursday Blog Hop! We hope you will join us again this week.
    These are some great tips on planning your vegetable garden. I also pick what my family loves to eat and fill in everything later. I like to experiment with something new every year but this ensures that we get our favorites in first.

  24. Kirsten

    I like the excel sheet idea! I usually just lay mine out on paper five different times before settling on something. This looks a lot cleaner and easier to change!

  25. Bethany

    That’s a nice dirt pokin’ stick!

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Why thank you Bethany. My dad whittled that dibble for me years ago out of cedar & it’s very sentimental to me – it always comes out when I’m planting. I’ll pass the compliment on to him. ~TxH~

  26. Linda

    I can’t wait to get out in the garden. I’m planning mentally now. Thanks. for linking this to What’d You Do This Weekend.


  27. Erlene

    We don’t have a large place to plant veggies and plant in large containers instead. You have some good tips for what veggies to plant with each other and we’ll keep that in mind. Thanks for sharing your tips. Visiting from Marvelous Mon. Linkup.

  28. Carole West

    My first tip…. Well I’m keeping it simple this year. Just waiting for the temperatures to stay above 40 before I think about putting anything in the ground. Our weather here in Texas is Crazy lately. This year though with all my planning some surfaced that I mentioned on my blog. As a result everything will be direct seed this spring and honestly I’m happy about it. Just like to keep thing simple and real I guess.
    Great sketch plan looks like you’re gonna be busy. -Carole @ GardenUp green

  29. Lauryn

    I have not done a very good job of rotating my crops and I have paid for it. This year we are moving and so I’ll be starting over. In some ways I am excited for this change and the possiblity of more land. In some ways I am sad to leave my old garden as I was just beginning to get a feel for it. It will be a container planting type of spring for us:)

  30. Anne

    Thanks for sharing these tips! I’m excited to get mine started now! Found your link through Mostly Homemade Mom’s linky party.

  31. Courtney

    I live in excel all day every day for my day job – and I never even thought of planning my garden using it. What a wonderful idea! Thank you so much!

  32. daisy

    What a fabulous post on garden planning! I love your design. That must be something to see! Hope you get to start planting soon. Thank you for sharing this valuable information on The Maple Hill Hop!

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Thanks Daisy – I don’t consider myself super organized so this system works really well in keeping all my data close each year and since it’s a single document there’s no going from document to document looking up past-planting data. Plus the companion-plant tab really helps! ~TxH~

  33. Candy C.

    I do keep track of what I plant where so that I can rotate my crops. I did not know that about the onions and green beans, thanks! I don’t usually grow onions so it has never been an issue but I just put out some onion sets today so I will remember that! I did not plant a garden last year due to too much on my plate and I am really looking forward to having one this year. 🙂

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Candy I know how it is when you’ve got so much on your plate that you’ve just got to cut back somewhere. I know you’re excited to have a garden this year – way to GROW! 😉 ~TxH~


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