Secrets To Planning A Great Vegetable Garden This Year!

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. 

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 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?

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. 

Luckily I can have both! I plant the seeds inside to get a jump on things. Sometimes I use this handy indoor greenhouse setup.

A clear plastic tote is used as my indoor greenhouse for starting vegetable seeds each year. #TexasHomesteader

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.

Milk Jug Greenhouse get get a jump start on planting seeds so plants can be placed in the vegetable garden. Harden off for 1-2 weeks. #TexasHomesteader

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.

Easily planning my garden for the year. Fresh garden produce spread upon a wooden cutting board. #TexasHomesteader

RancherMan & I love

Green beans

Tomatoes

Bell Peppers

Squash

Jalapenos

Onions

So of course those things are a shoe-in for our garden.

Raised bed Hopkins Homestead 5 percent off savings Coupon Code #TexasHomesteader

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.

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

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:

*Spreadsheet Software

*Garden Planner Notebook

*Downloadable Garden Planner

Clyde’s Garden Planner 

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. 

Large tree blocking sunshine on garden. #TexasHomesteader

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”. 

Planting onions in the garden. #TexasHomesteader

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.

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. 

Are you doing any garden planning too? What are your tips for planting your veggie garden?

~TxH~

This post categorized in

My Favorite Garden Hacks

My favorite gardening hacks all in one place. #TexasHomesteader

Garden Planning

Seed Planting

Soil Health

Garden Styles

Garden Plants/Harvest

Water/Irrigation/Drought

Weed Control

Garden Tips

MORE Gardening Posts

References:

Find Your 2023 Updated USDA Plant Hardiness Zone

Texas Master Gardener’s Companion PlantingPlant Friend & Foe

 

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27 thoughts on “Secrets To Planning A Great Vegetable Garden This Year!

  1. Sheila Purvis

    I donโ€™t see where I can download the spreadsheet.

    Reply
    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~

      Reply
  2. Barry Schalkle

    How do i get the spreadsheet

    Reply
    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~

      Reply
  3. 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 ๐Ÿ™‚ 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 ๐Ÿ™‚ Good to know about the veggie friends & enemies! Hopefully all mine get along!

    Reply
  4. 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.

    Reply
  5. 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. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Reply
  6. 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! ๐Ÿ˜€

    Reply
  7. Nan

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

    Reply
  8. 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! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Reply
  9. 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

    Reply
  10. 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

    Reply
  11. 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 ๐Ÿ™‚ Hope to see you again next week.

    ~Lorelai
    Life With Lorelai

    Reply
  12. 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.

    Reply
  13. Erlene

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

    Reply
  14. 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!

    Reply
  15. Bethany

    That’s a nice dirt pokin’ stick!

    Reply
    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~

      Reply
  16. 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.

    Reply
  17. 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

    Reply
  18. 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:)

    Reply
  19. Anne

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

    Reply
  20. 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!

    Reply
  21. 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!

    Reply
    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~

      Reply
  22. 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. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Reply
    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! ๐Ÿ˜‰ ~TxH~

      Reply

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