Planning Your First Vegetable Garden

Having a garden at home is one of the most delicious and rewarding things you can do for your dinner table. That $2 tomato plant today can easily be 10lbs of fruit over the course of a single growing season. Talk about a return on investment!

There are plenty of good reasons you should start a garden, in fact, we have a list here about the Top 10 Reasons You Should Start a Garden Right Now!

When you’re first planning a vegetable garden, it might be a little overwhelming! What do I plant? Where do I plant them? How do I organize them? Don’t worry, we’ll explore all of that and more below.

What To Plant

If this is your first vegetable garden, or garden in general, then it’s best to start small. You’ll be surprised by how high-yield certain vegetables can be.

A great first step is to find out for how long a particular plant will produce and how many vegetables it will yield. For example: tomatoes, peppers, and squash will keep providing all season long, while other vegetables like carrots, radishes, and corn will only produce once per season.

Our top 10 vegetable recommendations for a first time gardener are:

  1. Tomatoes
  2. Peppers
  3. Onions
  4. Green beans
  5. Lettuce
  6. Strawberries
  7. Potatoes
  8. Basil
  9. Bush Zucchini
  10. Radishes

You can start wherever you want, but these are our top recommendations! Consider how much your family might need for meals during the gardening season, and pick (get it?) appropriately.

Where to Plant

No garden will thrive planted in a poor location. Gardens need three things: plenty of sunlight, plenty of water, and good soil.

Sunlight – Most vegetables need 6-8 hours of direct sunlight a day. A lack of sunlight means the plants won’t yield nearly as much and will be more susceptible to diseases and insects. Pick a charming spot in your yard that isn’t too obscured by your home or surrounding trees, and will guarantee 6-8 hours of direct sun.

Water – This tip is more for you than the garden, but make sure the garden is near a water source. Trust us, having to walk a long distance with a garden hose or water bucket is not fun. And if you’re feeling ambitious and want to make any sort of manual or automated watering systems, it’s definitely going to be easier on you to set up near a water source.

Soil – If you follow our blog you know we’re obsessed with healthy soil. You simply can’t have hardy, healthy plants growing from bad soil! Make sure the soil drains well and is rich in organic matter (think compost).

Find a spot that meets these suggestions and you’re golden! If the soil is an issue, don’t be afraid to put in a little elbow grease and build a raised garden bed where you want the garden to be. Consider having it close to the house to make transporting your harvest easier!

How Much Space Do I Need?

After you’ve determined what and where you want to plant it’s time to mark off your garden. But how big should it be? To figure this out think about how much you’ve decided to plant. Each row should have about 18 inches between them for easy movement and determine how much space each plant needs between it and it’s neighbor.

For example, a tomato plant might need 24-36 inches because of the necessity of a cage, whereas a radish might only need 1-4 inches between seeds when planting, as they take up much less horizontal space. Do a little bit of research and pull out some graph paper to mark everything down.

Sample Layouts

Below are some sample resources for you so you can get a mental image of how your garden might look. This isn’t by any means gospel, but a start for you to model your own garden after!

These are some great plans to start with, and there are plenty of other resources out there for you to discover! Did you know that Koopman Lumber produces a planting calendar every year? Take a look at the Koopman 2017 Planting Calendar to start with!

When you’re done there, try this handy online vegetable planner! You can create a quick ‘n’ dirty grid to print off and reference. Test it out at!

Wrap Up

Once you have your garden planned out you can get to work on actually making your dream a reality. When you’re ready to move onto the next step, check out our guide on Planting Your Vegetable Garden! Thanks for reading!