What I Learned While Planning an Organic Veggie Garden.

what I learned while planning a veggie garden|Positively Jane

Vegetables - what to plant, how to plant and where to plant.  Who knew there were so many decisions. Certainly not me!

When my husband and I were younger (like 40 years ago) we grew tomatoes and that was so much fun.  We then moved to the woods and couldn’t grow anything - let alone vegetables. A few months ago we moved into our new home and since our new yard has TONS of sun we realized we could finally have a vegetable garden.  Little did I know there were so many decisions to be made. Such as……

1.    How were we going to keep the deer from having an amazing salad?

2.    Should we plant in the ground or in beds?

3.    If beds, should they be raised beds (on legs), or raised boxes so we could have a seat and sit, or raised and no seat?

4.    How large should they be?

5.    What types of veggies should go in them?

6.    How do we plant the seeds?

7.    When do we plant the seeds?

8.    Do we add flowers so it’s pretty?

9.    Do we have room for everything we want to plant?

Where to begin!!!

Years ago I was told about the Square Foot Garden concept. I purchased the book and we decided that was the way to go.  It’s a great read and very helpful - explains how to divide your garden into square foot spaces and how many plants you can plant in each space. A genius idea!

We then met with Joel at Tradition Market and Garden in Atlanta GA.   He was very knowledgable and gave us many options and other things to think about. - like, did we want a raised planter with a seat to sit on? Now that sounded awesome for us old folks.

After months (literally) of back and forth indecision….we decided we wanted 2 - 8’x 4’ (exterior dimensions) raised planter boxes with a ledge we can sit on.  They are 21” high.  We would divide the beds into square feet (our spaces are actually 10 1/2”) and plant root and regular veggies. (root veggies need more root space - hence the name :)

We chose our side yard for the space.  First thing we added was a trellis (My husband and our awesome handyman built it on what must have been the coldest day ever in GA!  They were freezing.)

We hired Tradition Market and Garden to build the beds. Coordinated our landscaper to be there on the same day…..and then the waiting began. If I was a smarter person, I would have been researching what to plant before the install. But, alas no…..


Installation Day!  Tradition Market came with the 2 beds, 2 compost bins and all the rich soil we needed.  They installed the beds and made sure they were level.  Since my landscapers were here at the same time the irrigation was also installed.  We went with drip lines spaced 6” apart (as recommended by Square Foot).

The landscapers also planted boxwoods around the perimeter of the side yard - they will eventually be a hedge.  


Mulch was added (the non dyed variety -we don’t want our doggies feet to get stained).  

Pots were placed and it looked amazing.  I finally got to work figuring out what seeds to plant and where.

We knew we wanted heirloom non GMO seeds. Tradition Market brought their most popular seeds - which came from Sow True Seeds.  They told me that tomatoes need to be started inside.  All the other seeds could be sown after the danger of frost.  

I made a list of what veggies we wanted to eat and proceeded to order what I did not have.  I ordered from Sow True Seeds and Heirloom Seeds.

All the seeds arrived and I realized there was NO WAY I could plant all of those in my beds.  I made a list of what I had and proceeded to gather facts.

1.    When to I sow the seeds?

2.    Do they need full sun to grow?

3.    How long does it take to germinate the seeds?

4.    Can I sow directly in the ground or do I need to put in little pots first?

5.    Do I need to Stratify the seeds (start indoors in a cold place). Details in another post. 

6.    How tall will each plant be when full grown? 

7.    How wide will they be (how many square feet will they take up)?

8.    Do they need a trellis?

9.    How many days to maturity?

10.  Can I grow more than 1 crop per season?

Oh my Gosh - I was totally overwhelmed.  

So, I made a chart of my beds. I used my Square Foot Garden book as a reference.  I also went to the Burpee website to find out the answers to alot my questions. I labeled each box with what veggies to plant.  I quickly realized that tomatoes will take over the whole box so decided to buy some large plastic pots for them.  I needed to make sure that all my climbers were in the same place.  That is when I realized I don’t have any trellis’.  haha. (Still need to figure out those). You know, Rome wasn’t built in a day! I did not want the taller plants to block all the sun from the shorter plants.  I must have made 6-7 renditions of my layout.  Thankfully this was all on paper and not in the ground.

Finally I had a plan and knew what to do….somewhat!


What to do next?

I planted my tomatoes in little 2’ peat pots.  I put 2-3 seeds in each pot. I labeled them and put them outside on my covered porch. (I do bring them in at night when it’s cold).

I put my Milkweed seeds in between layers of damp paper towels, put them in a  sealed ziplock bag and then in the refrigerator.  I will plant these in the yard - not the garden. They should be sprouted in 6 weeks. We shall see!

I emailed Tradition Market about making 2 trellis. They are figuring that part out.

Composting and stratifying will be saved for another day - who knew there was so much to learn there too!

We haven’t figured out the deer problem yet either. 

And now I wait.

Planting a vegetable garden can be a tad overwhelming - but it will sure be worth it!

Big Hugs,


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