by Texas Homesteader ~
My garden planning method each year is EASY! 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! Come see how I decide what vegetables to plant each spring.
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Planning A Vegetable Garden
I’ve been spending time daydreaming about warmer weather and what I’d like to plant in my vegetable garden. We’re located in Northeast Texas planting zone 8b.
NOTE: The USDA Plant Hardiness Zone changed in 2023. You can check the Updated USDA Plant Hardiness Zone HERE to see what your updated zone is.
But how do I decide what to plant 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.
Luckily I can have both! I plant the seeds inside to get a jump on things. Sometimes I use this handy indoor greenhouse setup.
Other times I take another shortcut and plant seeds in Milk Jugs.
That jug makes a small terrarium of sorts to give my veggie seeds a great start.
Now what seeds shall I get started for this year’s garden?
Plant What You Like To Eat
The most important decision 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
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 which plants will fill the remaining garden space?
Tracking Vegetable Garden 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 on a spreadsheet it took a little time initially to lay it all out.
Now that I have my garden layout, each consecutive year I simply add another tab for the current year. Then I copy/paste the blank garden layout to the current year’s tab. Finally I start plugging in my planting selections.
I prefer using 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, the date on the seeds and whether or not it’s heirloom.
Garden Planning Software or Notebooks Simplify Planning!
NOTE: The photo above is an example of my own garden’s layout on an Excel spreadsheet. Your garden layout will be different.
Some options to consider for your own garden planning:
Garden Planning For Rotational Planting
It’s wise to rotate your vegetables to a different location each year. That’s because different plants use different amounts of soil nutrition and attract or repel different pests.
By rotating your crops each year 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.
Look For Reasons A Plant Didn’t Do Well In Your Garden
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 here in those deep summer months.
But in early spring when the sun is still somewhat in the southerly sky 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- plants 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 busy & didn’t want to dig up & relocate my small onion rows near my green bean planting so I figured “eh, let’s see what happens”.
Bad decision. My green bean plants that year 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! I now plant 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.
Are you doing any garden planning too? What are your tips for planting your veggie garden?
My Favorite Garden Hacks
- Easy Garden Planting Plan Spreadsheet
- Prepare Now! Late-Winter Garden Checklist
- How To Make Your Own Garden Soil
- Planting Seeds In A Milk Jug Mini-Greenhouse
- Planting A Clear Tote As An Indoor Greenhouse
- Repurposed Cardboard Seed-Starting Pots
- Easy Compost For A Healthy Garden
- How Leaves Benefit Your Garden
- Using Manure In Your Compost & Garden
- 3-Sister’s Garden – The Original Companion Planting
- Planting A Large Galvanized Trough
- Where I Found The BEST Raised Bed!
- Planting A Blueberry Bush In Rustic Galvanized Tub
- Stevia – Growing Your Own Sweetener!
- 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 Plant & Grow The Best Tomatoes
- Keeping Potted Plants Watered
- Repurposing A Coffee Can For Deep-Soak Watering
- 3 Rainwater Collection Systems We Use
- Cheap (or FREE) Wood Mulch For The Garden
- Using Vining Plants For Living Mulch
- Surprising Use For Empty Clay Pots In The Garden
- How To Save Outdoor Plants Even During A Hard Freeze
- Tricking Birds AWAY From Your Strawberry Plants
- Protecting Tender Seedlings From Wind
- Homestead Hack: Remember Where You Planted Seeds
- How I Use EcoBricks In The Garden
Find Your 2023 Updated USDA Plant Hardiness Zone
Texas Master Gardener’s Companion Planting – Plant Friend & Foe
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