Planning A New Edible Garden

by Daisy on 03/05/2011

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It’s the last days of winter and I think the only thing I’m going to miss about it is the winter honeysuckle.

To make some garden-like use of the long, cold months I’ve slowly been doing a remodel on my vegetable/fruit garden.

It’s been growing steadily over the past few years without a master plan.  I built a couple of beds one year, another the next, and so on, until eventually there were ten of them, and they weren’t exactly perfectly aligned.

After a while, the haphazard-ness of it began to get to me–whatever that bone is in the brain that likes things to be balanced and straight started to throb whenever I went into the garden, and I wanted more order.

I got out a few stakes and and some twine (it was Lily Sugar ‘n Cream yarn–I couldn’t find string and I wasn’t going to let the mood pass) and staked out straight lines.  I got the beds more or less parallel to the side of the house, the paths between beds the same width, and moved and shifted everything around.

It was a pain, but in the end I’m glad I did it.  There are still a couple of beds that can’t be moved yet because their contents are too precious (salad greens), but as soon as I can they’re going into their new proper places.

After that was done, I built a fence around two sides of the perimeter (the other two sides are flanked by the house and driveway).  It was a relief for that brain bone to have a boundary, a resting place for the eye, a punctuation mark.

And a gardener has to have a place to sit and soak it all in, or else collapse with exhaustion.  Seating is also a good way to isolate people from the herd so you can bore them with details of the six different types of cucumber you planted.  So I built a bench and a couple of chairs over the winter.

If you’re planning to start an edible garden, I suggest you learn from my mistakes and start with more of a master plan than I did.  Even if you’re starting small and adding on over the years, think about alignment and where you will expand.  I recommend that you map out the available area (in my case the area that receives enough sun to grow food) and sketch in your ultimate fantasy garden.  That way, as you phase in additions, everything can be in the place you want it to be.

Think about the little extras like seating and tables and where they will be most useful, even if you don’t have any yet.

So as you dream this Spring about what you want to grow, dream too about where it will all go.  Free online garden planning tools are everywhere, (here’s one, registration required), although I’m still a paper and pencil girl.

I can’t think of a nicer way to spend a rainy March weekend.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Faith March 5, 2011 at 11:13 am

That bone…mine has been clicking get order too. I just told my husband last night, we need to put some order to the garden. We have a very small and I mean small little area. But this year I want to do a raised area, we need to have some order and be ready to go come planting time. So planning is in the mix this w/e at our house too. I am anxious to begin the seedlings…but still to early for my area…I think we are zone 3? North up by Lake Erie. Ohio, but first things first. Your area is lovely, and thank you for the advice…it is well taken.

Tanya Walton March 5, 2011 at 5:08 pm

I too am a girl who likes everything just so…and when I have an idea in my head then nothing else will do, I know that if I can’t find exactly what I want or do exactly what I want straight away then I am better off waiting because otherwise I won’t be happy and end up changing it anyway.

The chairs and bench are great…you did really well making those!!

Maggie March 5, 2011 at 5:11 pm

wow, nice adirondack(?)
I twitch too and can’t relax if thing aren’t straight, I understand.

Nicola March 5, 2011 at 11:06 pm


Javalady March 6, 2011 at 1:03 am

To every thing a place and time… and in order too !! I want to see your pictures of making the bench and the chair. How hard were those projects? I am planning a Three Sisters garden this year and fences flanked with extra large sunflowers. Happy Gardening to all !

Justine March 6, 2011 at 2:14 am

Hiya gardening friends. I too like to have a plan with my garden, and I find my yields are so much more successful when I’m organized. I couldn’t find a method out there to fit the bill, so I made my own! I’ve put a lot of thought into my handmade garden journals
(organizer) and sell them on Etsy here:

My indoor seedlings are coming along very nicely, and I hope your 2011 gardens are a success!

jan March 6, 2011 at 4:27 am

I just love reading your posts about gardening! I am moving to a new (old), house next month, with a giant, privacy fenced back yard. I cannot wait to get out the tiller and get my garden spot going. I live in mid-Missouri, so next month will be perfect to start some salad greens, radishes, green onions, broccoli and cabbage. I am so excited about it all. I hope to be able to can and freeze some vegetables also. Who knows, I may build my little chicken coop and pen eventually, since our town passed an ordinance that we can keep hens for eggs. You have inspired me to try to be more self-sustainable.

Tomato Lady March 6, 2011 at 8:12 am

Javalady–Unfortunately I didn’t take any process pictures of the furniture. I built them both from plans in this book:
The bench was easy, the adirondack chairs were more complicated, but still a fun build.
Good luck with your 3 sisters. The sunflowers will be beautiful.

Rosanna March 7, 2011 at 9:09 am

ABSOLUTELY gorgeous lady! We finally put in 6 raised beds off of out flagstone patio here at our New Mexico home. Now we have to make REAL dirt. We live near the site of a dormant Volcano behind Los Alamos and the soil is FILLED with mica, sand, clay in some spots and well girlfriend what we DON”T have is those lovely deciduous leaves in your photo! At least not enough to make lovely black gold… So this month I am experimenting with gentle composting IN the beds. tossing the egg shells in the future tomato beds to help with lovely blossom end rot and turning in any leftover bags of compost and composted cotton pods and the like so at least the stuff won’t make like adobe when hit by water and sun. 🙂
Ah….but the reward of maybe some tomatoes this year….TASTY rewards!
TOODLES! Rosanna

Becki March 11, 2011 at 6:01 am

Thanks for the link for the bench and chairs – they look fantastic!

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