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“Design first, plant later.”
And Complete Kitchen Garden giveaway

Kitchengardener Guest post by Ellen Ecker Ogden, author of The Complete Kitchen Garden

Town meeting day in Vermont coincides nicely with when I work on my spring garden design. In between votes and the long-winded discussion of police salaries and library funding, I am doodling in the margins, plotting out my garden. Sure I am listening, but thinking about my garden not only keeps me awake, but at the end of the day I can go home with a plan that keeps me focused on good things to come.

I planted my first garden with four sticks and a ball of twine, measuring out a large square, and removing a thick layer of rugged turf.  I turned the stony Vermont soil with compost before planting long straight rows for basil, lettuce and beans. I would be lying if I said the garden thrived, but the thrill of harvesting my own food gave way to a larger garden the following year. As the garden grew, the harder it was to decide in the spring where to plant until I realized I could start the design on paper first.

As any good cook will tell you, the key to success is following a recipe exactly before letting the imagination go wild. For gardeners, this means starting with a garden plan before even cracking open the seeds catalogs.  Later, looking at the blank canvas of freshly tilled soil, it would be much harder to limit yourself to just the essentials.

Fitting a long list of seeds onto a piece of graph paper requires the gardener to be really selective. Taking a bird’s eye view of the paths and the beds can bring out your artistic side, and you may find yourself inspired by a paisley fabric or floral wallpaper design, rather than a straight ridge of corduroy. Adding a bench or a fanciful arbor is easy to draw in, regardless of whether they will actually take form.
I recently taught a vegetable garden design class with some of the techniques I share in my new book, The Complete Kitchen Garden. I had expected the class to be full of new gardeners ready to learn basic skills such as sowing seed and turning compost. Instead, there were 15 experienced gardeners seeking fresh ideas for reinvigorating their tired plots. We started with a visualization exercise to envision the kitchen garden of their dreams. This simple exercise allowed these gardeners to step out of their comfort zone of straight rows to picture kitchen gardens filled with waves of color that engaged all of their senses. The results were magical.

Ellen's Kitchen Garden Layout Since my own garden follows a 4 four-square organic rotation, it’s fairly easy to know where to grow each crop and how to group to make the most of the soil fertility. I am never tempted to plant space hogs such as zucchini or corn.  The bush beans from last year were a total disaster since I never picked them – so those are out, too. This year, I am focused on lettuce and salad greens from Wild Garden Seeds and heirlooms from Seed Savers Exchange.   I have my tried and true favorites, but I always toss in some quirky extras, like artichokes and Italian Treviso radicchio.

TO WIN A COPY

Just leave a comment, preferably telling us whether you’ve ever stepped out of your comfort zone of straight rows and turned your garden into a work of art – and how you did it.  But honestly, the winner will be chosen by that great blogger’s friend, Random.org.

Posted by on February 28, 2011 at 4:38 am, in the category Uncategorized.
Comments are off for this post

82 responses to ““Design first, plant later.”
And Complete Kitchen Garden giveaway”

  1. jackie says:

    I’ve wanted to have my veggie garden be more pleasing to the eye, but I’ve not done it yet. I’ve tried a sort of square foot garden, still had everything in rows. I grew up gardening in rows, it’s a hard habit to break.

  2. greta says:

    I generally plant my veggies in pots so I was able to adjust sun exposure throughout the summer. But now that a tree has come down and i’ll be getting a ton more sun, I’m open to ideas.

  3. Ooh, I’d love to add this book to my collection. I grow vegetables, but the garden is not beautiful–maybe I could make it so…

  4. Amanda says:

    Merely PLANTING a garden is a little out of my comfort zone! I was on a waiting list for a plot at my community garden for years and last year, in May, finally got one. I stuck some seedlings in the ground, mulched, and had some moderate success as well as some terrible failures.

    But this is the first year I’m going to be planning and planting and ordering seeds. I have a 10×10 plot, fifteen seed catalogs, and no clue what to do!

  5. Shannon says:

    I’ve never planted a straight row in my life. My brain just doesn’t work that way! But, that doesn’t mean it looks good. I need a guide so I can go from “hot mess” to “work of art”!

  6. Susan says:

    I found out years ago that I’m incapable of garden design; I’m a plant collector, and all the blueprints I’d do for landscape design class had one of just about every plant there is. It got to the point that my instructor would just sigh as I handed the print in. Design and plant collecting, in my opinion, are mutually exclusive disciplines! At least they are for me…..

  7. Foy says:

    This is such a timely post! I’m planning an herb and fragrance garden and although I have some inspired plant choices, what I really need now is to sit down and draw up the design. Thanks for the reminder and nudge to start with a plan.

  8. Louise says:

    My first attempt at gardening was when I was 8. I had saved four packets of seeds from our loaves of Wonder Bread and dug four holes in my dad’s dichondra front lawn. That lawn was his prize and years later I can still hear his cries of “My dichondra” in my mind.

    I now have a dappled light (pretty words for spotty) half acre yard. I mix my veggies in with the rest of the yard as I have light for them. On the side of my house I built large containers from some corrugated tin I got at Aurora Mills Architectural Salvage. It isn’t like the regular corrugated tin. It is flat then has three thin ridges in the middle then flat again. I made containers that almost resemble large terra cotta pots because they have the deep brown rust color of age.

    I’ve never been able to stick to rows but somehow manage for corn.

  9. greg draiss says:

    Took over my sons football garden to plant a geometric traingular affair

    The TROLL

  10. My herb garden is structured by a single brick walkway between mounds of different herbs co-mingling and holding each other up. My veg garden is much the same…formal rows of beds, but groupings of plants supporting one and another. I think it comes from container gardening for a few years on a very small and windy porch.

  11. John says:

    You know how your dad had to take masking tape and divide the bedroom you shared with your brother in half; his side and your side. Well that is what my garden is like. Two gardens with a driveway as the divider. Mine: total chaos, no rhyme or reason, attempts at color coordination, everything in drifts, you get the picture. The other gardener in the household is a scientist and to make matters worse, a horticultural scientist. So not only are the plants all in neat tidy rows and never ever touching each other but each one is somehow significant (only to science). When you have two passionate gardeners with two completely different mind sets what you need is a “Switzerland” – a neutral third party. I envy all the gardeners whose spouses ignore the yard.

  12. Kathryn says:

    My kitchen garden is 18′ x 24′ surrounded by a wrought iron fence salvaged from an old city reservoir. A narrow brick path echoes the ironwork inside the perimeter creating three foot beds and a large rectangular bed in the middle. The hardscape demands straight rows and many years I submit. But one year, a river ran through my garden. Dozens of lemon gem marigolds undulated through the grid in a continuous ribbon, circling the feet of heirloom tomatoes, wrapping basil and eggplant with their citrus scent, finally spilling through the fence in a cascade of yellow. This year again, I think.

  13. Tara Dillard says:

    Hi Ellen !! Love your book. And, it’s received the highest honor, my husband took it for his own.

    You know what we gardeners do for non-gardeners, happily give.

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

  14. MiSchelle says:

    Squeee! I get the pleasure of attending Ellen Eker Ogden’s lecture at the PHS Flower Show next Monday and I couldn’t be more excited. Winning this book would be icing on the cake. Regardless, I will have her book in hand at the signing to follow the lecture.
    I planted my first 4-square garden in 1990, adapting Mel Bartholomew’s square foot gardening plans into the design. It all looked great on paper, but when applied in Southcentral Alaska’s climate it turned sour real quick. You see – veggies up there just grow BIGGER than normal. Or not at all. Disaster.
    Now I grow my edibles amongst the mixed borders and my perennials in the veggie garden where they thrive in the sun. In Pennsylvania where plants behave nicely.

  15. kari says:

    My husband chooses the tomatoes and garlic (for sauce), while I cover everything else. The tomatoes take the best spots and are quite orderly and everything else gets worked around them. I would care more, but he does all the sauce cooking and canning, so I really think I have the best half of the deal. Since all my other stuff gets tucked in here and there around the tomatoes I don’t get neat orderly rows, but it’s quite pretty. A couple nasturtium reseed every year, a small patch of bee balm that arrived somehow and never got removed, and a an added marigold here and there, and it’s quite lovely by mid summer.

  16. tropaeolum says:

    Theoretically, I plant in rows, but it hardly ever ends up that way. Mom always grows too many seedlings–she hasn’t the heart to cull–and she plunks them in the ground haphazardly. Crop rotation is a nightmare. When you’ve got such a small space, the roots touch no matter what you do and bugs and mildew run free.

    That said, I harbor a secret desire to try a Jekyll-esque edible garden. I can just imagine the espaliered fruit trees and blueberry bushes growing behind squash and tomatoes and pole beans and the herbs mixed in with some lettuce in front. Someday.

  17. Brandon says:

    I enjoyed this post, its comparison of turned rows to blank canvas. For the past two years I’ve grown flowers in a continuous bed across my back fence, and every year I’ve resorted to planning the placement of these flowers on paper first. It’s helped a lot with thinking creatively about what should turn out and how it should work, alas – it never does as planned, which allows for a lot of last-minute improvisation. Last year, I tried tossing in a few vegetables here and there without properly designing or planning for how big they would become … a Tabasco pepper plant here and a Hansel eggplant plant there shadowed other things I had planted and I think I’ve learned my lesson.

  18. Kristen M says:

    I have a container garden, so it’s pretty easy to change the design of it on a whim. However, what I like to change are the colors of the containers, what the containers are, and what’s in them! Hard to make drastic changes on a small city plot with a north facing garden!

  19. Val says:

    The good thing is the plants are beautiful no matter how I arrange them. I have raised beds, so I have never planted in rows, using a grid arrangement. This year I am going to try to give arrangement and color more thought.

  20. Colleen says:

    I just finished plotting out my first adult garden at our new home.. so exciting and daunting.. it’s huge–72 by 72 but one corner of it will be my kiddos play ground area which I have envisioned with playful gourds and peas and pumpkins.. with a wee little table for him play with.. but the rest of it I’m not so sure.. one thing I need is compost crazy amounts of compost…

  21. rachael says:

    I’m am returning to the kitchen garden after a 6 year hiatus while my children were very young.

    I now have 3 eager helpers– each of whom–wants a private plot. We are laying out the gardens on graph paper this week, and it will be interesting to see each child’s unique style begin to emerge.

    I have to confess that I’m a flower gardener at heart and my kitchen garden has always been ridiculously beautiful, because it is really just an edible ornamental garden.

  22. My usual vegetable garden is in plain rectangular raised beds. It’s a narrow side yard that gets full sun, so that’s the only arrangement possible.
    However, I now have a little square space almost ready for an herb garden. I’m going to try to make it fancier, with an old-fashioned parterre. I can’t afford to plant box to edge it, but I may use some bricks to try to make the design.
    I’m also planning on working blueberry bushes into a more ornamental landscape, and planting a peach tree in a front flower bed.

  23. meemsnyc says:

    This year for the first time we are doing raised beds using square foot gardening instead of straight rows. I can’t wait!

  24. Deborah says:

    My vegetable plot at the community garden is tiny, so I am desperately trying to figure out ways to make the space more productive, including “going vertical”. Certainly there is no room for tradition “rows” – this book sounds like it might really help! At least my tiny space might be pretty if not a powerhouse of veg production!

  25. ES says:

    I’m relatively new to vegetable gardening, so the whole process is outside my comfort zone. But you are right — it sure is magical to eat something from your backyard!

  26. Kay says:

    I am trying to eliminate some of the lawn and give some undulating wave edges to the front yard. Here and there I put in some edibles. In the back yard, however, everything is pretty much in rows.

  27. Katrina says:

    I had a garden at home for a couple of years. I didn’t necessarily put it in rows. I put a lot of flowers around the edge of the garden. It was quite small, only about 10X10

  28. cheryl says:

    Planning the garden for the first time in years, as we have been traveling in the motor home for the last three. Went to Vermont last year, lovely. Just came out of a cold spell here in Bellingham WA, starting to plan the garden. Had forgotten about the 4-square plan, may rethink and do that with the back garden, which is six raised beds around a birdbath and three concrete benches. Would include a picture if they were cleaned up, but still have skeletons of plants from the past….

  29. Thank you for all your great comments! It’s wonderful to read all of your garden ideas and hope you are inspired to try something new. I look forward to meeting you at the upcoming flower show events. Please look for the book in your local book store!

  30. Li'l Ned says:

    Sigh. I have tried and tried to plan first, then plant. I have tried it with vegs and with a larger ornamental landscape. I have gotten planting plans from landscape designers for our business and even my yard. I have tried Square Foot Gardening, Chinese Raised Bed Gardening, and every other planning style. Somehow my mind just doesn’t work that way. i can’t get from a flat, 2-D paper drawing to the real, 3-D world. I have to SEE and FEEL the space before I ‘get’ it.

    Through the years I have tried many times to draw things out. Part of my problem has been the lack of a square or even flat planting area. With the exception of my very first garden, during college years, I have had to contend with a sloping yard and many curving, terraced planting beds.

    My best results come when I make a list of what I want to grow, ask the garden what IT wants and then listen where to put things. That being said, I always order too much seed, grow too many tomato plants and fail to consistently sow succession plantings. Our growing season of 90-120 days doesn’t allow for second plantings of most things, so if I screw up or we get an odd frost, I usually just cross the failure off my list and vow to try again next year.

    I do love a good planting plan, though, and would love to win (and read) Ellen’s book. I will say that I intermix vegs, herbs and flowers in my garden, and I think all gardens are beautiful when planted this way. Plants are the best, ya know?!

  31. Laura Bell says:

    I’m convinced that early Spring weather has hallucinagenic properties, causing even seasoned gardeners to think they really can make an acre’s worth of plants fit in a 30×6 space. My plans always begin in January as art; my eventual garden is usually pure jungle. I really do try to plan what and where to plant, what needs to be in rows & what can be more or less ‘free-range’. But then I receive the seeds I ordered, open the package & wonder “who ordered all these seeds ? And what is this marvelous variety … ?” It’s worse if I go to the garden center – vegetables are sirens calling to me, beckoning me to take them home & squeeze them in somewhere. So I do. Come July, there are few places I can squeeze between plants. Harvesting looks like Tai Chi with a basket. Then I swear I’ll be more careful next year. I swear my garden will be tidy with trellises & supports & space between all plants. But then March hits, and that planting plan flies out the window as I head to the garden center …

    I’ve tried to convince my husband that removing the lawn and allowing more room for veggies & fruit – for a real potager – would remedy the problem. But he’s lived with me too long to fall for that one.

  32. Jackie DiGiovanni says:

    My vegetable garden grew as I found the energy to dig up the grass (+other things growing among the blades) in the back yard. There are several small beds rather than nice even rows. All the beds are raised because the soil was so compacted that I was adding lots of amendments to a little bit of native soil. When I ran out of room, I added a trellis made from recycled metal fence posts and chicken wire. When I wanted better defined paths, I edged with old paving bricks I had brought home from a demolition project. When I wanted more pollinators, I planted more flowers. I think _The Complete Kitchen Garden_ would be a powerhouse addition to my growing how-to-garden library. I would be better read while becoming better fed.

  33. Jessica says:

    We don’t have much light in our yard, so there really isn’t enough space for long rows. We have a raised bed and tend to stagger the plants to get the most out of the space available. It isn’t a work of art, but when I’m eating fresh tomatoes and peppers all summer, I don’t really mind.

  34. My flower gardening is usually inspired by color and texture. My vegetable gardens – more on my utilitarian desire to put the right plant in the right spot, and get a good crop! This will be my first year to try an make my veggie garden a lovely spot, so I’d love to have this book as a guide!

  35. Reiki Ree says:

    Have just built permanent raised-beds from used brick. THAT was a huge step because I used to re-design my garden every year.

    The permanence of our new raised-beds is freeing in that I know what I’m working with. The ‘design’ part is now only about the plants.

    And even with a plan, I still purchase too many seeds. When I worry about purchasing ‘too many’ I invariably purchase ‘not enough’.

  36. Lisa Lee says:

    Last year we grew veggies mixed with flowers in the same raised beds. They were great to look at, and fun to grow! We even let the lettuce go to seed so it would bloom along with the flowers. We already have volunteer lettuce coming up this year.

  37. LatigoLiz says:

    Oh, please enter me! We’re going to try more raised beds this year, and might as well see if we can make them look nice. Row crops failed last year, most to do excess rain. :(

  38. nope not yet! Been inspired to though. but since I was infected with Lyme Disease a few years ago I havnt been up to gardening much, trying to get back in the swing!
    Thanks`

  39. marty rollo says:

    I need help….lol. each year I plant 1 thing. last year I planted 2. this year I am going all out planting a real garden. I also am starting seeds for the firsdt time. I have been looking at the square foot gardening info.

  40. Philly says:

    My garden is roughly shaped like a baseball diamond with home plate in the north west corner and the outfield facing south-east. Most of the plants are in straight raised beds except for the lovely bow-shaped rows along the curved (front) edge. The round garden edge encourages me to plant in mounds and drifts and lends itself to edible flowers and herbs. I’ve also built a bean teepee that grows scarlet runners and morning glories – it stands as a welcoming sentry at the front of the garden and adds another circle shape to a garden that is soft and round on one side and straight and formal on the other.

  41. Hayley says:

    i’m doing raised beds this year. Not too artistic, but hopefully it will be a success.

  42. Cindy B says:

    My garden is really a kitchen garden, as it is the view out my kitchen window and back door. The past few years, I’ve divided it into rectangles and even triangles, pointing toward the center point—a large pot of annuals. Last year I went back to rectangles, but planted cabbages in diagonal lines to point to the focal point. I loved how it looked, and it was more efficient, space-wise.

  43. Erin says:

    As community garden spots are hard to find in my area (I live in my the Downtown core of Vancouver – Not exactly a green space haven), I’ve always tended to grow my stuff haphazardly in large Rubbermaid containers. However, I just moved to the 23rd floor of my building though so I’m not sure how this is going to work… I’d really like to check out this book, it might give me a better idea of how to structure my garden. :)

  44. mary says:

    This year I aim to move beyond basil and thyme into the unknown territory of beans, peas, lettuce, and carrots. Aesthetics aren’t my highest priority — I just want to make a salad — but the book looks great, so please stick me in the pool!

  45. Well I have not really stepped out of my comfort zone only because that is a pretty big area but my main veggie garden is a giant letter E. Mostly for easy access around the raised beds.

  46. Sue says:

    I’m usually all about straight rows, but this year we may be getting creative ’cause of tree stumps!

  47. Kate says:

    My vegetables have to be in straight rows, otherwise I forget where I’ve planted them, but I take a little more artistic license with the herbs. I like to mix them up a little to get some interesting color and texture contrast.

  48. Jill says:

    My first year to establish garden beds of my own was last year. I got going a little late so I’m looking forward to getting even more out of my garden this year! Having trellises for the cukes and squash is about as creative as it’s gotten so far!

  49. Norma says:

    I do most of my gardening in raised beds or containers so I tried to use some of the same rotation idease from bed to bed

  50. Jackie says:

    I grow gorgeous “Bright Lights” swiss chard in the front yard annual bed. It ends up looking like an exotic pernnial, and I harvest leaves from the outside a little at a time so the plants stay pretty but still produce.

  51. Liza says:

    I haven’t yet stepped out of rows, but I’ve been co-gardening with neighbors for the last few years, and this book would be just the thing to get us there!

  52. Val says:

    I have a couple of raised beds where I grow tomatoes and … and… well broccoli but it never really grows well and when I harvest the few spindly heads they always have those green broccoli-coloured caterpillars in them. Oh and peppers! but then again the peppers never really amount to anything. They rot before they get big enough to eat. But oh then I discovered snap peas! Amazing! Just eating them raw while I surveyed my tomatoes defined that summer. That was two years ago, last year the snap peas did nada. I think about expanding my few raised beds and then I think, to plant what? Definitely needing some veggie inspiration here in Z4.

  53. LindaKGA says:

    I am branching out this year for the first time. I’m putting tomatoes in with the roses, and maybe a blueberry or two also. I think I will try some of those “spacehogging” squash in between the rose bushes too, and maybe the evil thorns of the antique roses will keep away this devil squash vine borer moths.

  54. Fran says:

    I try to be organized and row-like in my veggie garden, but that doesn’t go very far. The tomatoes, sure. They do have to be tied to my cattle panels. The rest somehow start as orderly groupings of two or three of each plant, and then go as they will, where I have space.
    The flower beds and decorative plantings in the front yard started as artistic drifts, and got out of hand.

  55. Straight rows in the roadside vegetable garden are the only thing that give me comfort in the much much larger wild cultivated garden. I’m sticking with my rows.

    http://outsideclyde.blogspot.com/2010/06/chaos-meets-order.html

  56. Cindy Schffgens says:

    Planning is outside my comfort zone. I try, but I just can’t follow the plan. I have 5 rectangular beds edged in a mix of stone, cinder block and wood. I sort of plan for the big things like tomatoes and pole beans and then fit the other stuff around it. Make crop rotation impossible.

  57. Carla James says:

    Oh yes, I changed from the straight rows, sorta – lol. Went from old-fashioned straight row gardening to lovely raised beds with posts and trellising and I love it! It has it’s own special watering system and natural fertilizers that make it fabulous!

    ~Carla
    Montana

  58. Kitchen Gardening is all the rage in the UK. I was amazed at the coverage on talk back radio when I was there in early Feb -The financial cut backs there are driving people to grow their own

  59. commonweeder says:

    Last year I planted a new Front Garden,also known as the Early Garden right in front of the house. Here I planted greens,broccoli, parsley, with a border of nastutiums between the veggies and the Daylily Bank. The southern exposure, lasagna beds and easy access to water made this a pretty and really productive space.

  60. Rae says:

    I have a small suburban lot, so not much room for long rows. Last fall I installed a raised bed bed “keyhole garden” which is 9 feet in diameter. I heard about it in a permaculture presentation. Can’t wait to plant it. It has just occured to me that if I want to try row covers, it might be tricky with a round bed. But I’ll cross that bridge later.

  61. Pat T says:

    So far it’s been utility over beauty, but I am in
    year 4 of veggie and yard gardening, transforming
    my suburban backyard, a liitle at a time as budget
    allows. I too though, plot out what I’m planting- mostly to get the
    mist out of my space but also so I don’t forget
    what I planted and yank the plants as weeds. Ahem, not that that has ever
    happenned or anything.

  62. Meera says:

    My first edible garden was last season and it was not in rows. I had 3 triangles and combined edibles with perennials and annuals. I think I planted too much in the space I had. I don’t want to do the same thing this year and would love to get some ideas from your book!

  63. Diane says:

    I inherited the long design 40×10 – the rows were the deal. I saw a painting by JR McDonald of the Canadian Group of Seven called “Tangled Garden” and I have aspired to that painting-live-ever since.
    My garden is in zone 3 in the Adirondacks, with a whole different set of parameters weather wise. I rotate every year so my layout is modeled after a crazy quilt idea. I plant the rows at the angles of the crazy quit pattern fairly snug less weeding and the plants like being with each other. The paths go straight lengthwise and are barely visible by August. The garden has been a subject for paintings by me and other regional artists through a 10 year series of meetings culminating in a yearly exhibit-Artists in the Garden.

  64. Patti says:

    One year I tried a round garden. It had a mound for the 3 sisters in the center and then wedges radiating out from that. It would have been lovely I think if I weren’t hugely pregnant that summer and let it get out of control. It ended up being a jungle with just the tops of the corn visible in the center.

    Now I stick to beds or rows in vaguely rectangular shapes as I find they are easiest to maintain. Although, I’ve never worried about perfectly strait lines.

  65. Donna E says:

    I am still trying to fit our own garden in around the children,house,dog & chickens. I enjoyed planting and making our raised beds last year,and with each harvested bounty(handfull of this or that)I was joyfilled!The fact that the kids ate it straight out of the basket was amazing,and I’m so looking forward to this year,with joy & dread as I’m not organized,or a very good planner so anything to help is ALWAYS smiled upon! Thanks for the chance.

  66. Sonia says:

    I tend to work around the big landmarks in my yard (driveway, trees, etc) and have tended to just plunk small garden spaces in where I can find sun. I’m conducting an experiment with some new lasagna beds in the front yard, and would love some tips on how to make those beds productive and pleasing to the eye.

  67. I am just learning how to garden so even planning our first garden is totally out of my comfort zone. I would love to win this book!

  68. Rae says:

    Last fall I was insspired by a lecture on permaculture to create a “keyhole” bed. It is a raised bed 9′ in diameter with a keyhole-shaped walkway so you can work the inside of the circle. Good for small areas. Can’t wait to start my greens!

  69. Shonie says:

    When I lived in the High Desert in Ca my garden was definitely more designed as we had a long growing season so it had to look good. Moving to Philly has changed that somewhat as I didn’t have the space I felt to make it “pretty”. Now I have 2 acres and a perfect sunny area for a brand new garden!! I want it to be pretty as well as functional. I’m just starting to design it in my head right now. Thanks for the opportunity to win!

  70. Methyl says:

    I inherited a 10×20 ft vegetable plot when we bought our current house. The rows ran North/South. I’ve played with it enough that now they run East/West.

    THIS year, I expand my vegetable garden space by 150% by taking over the lawn. I hated the even rows I staked out, so I outlined a 3 ft wide perimeter around a central lawn. Envision sunflowers around the outside, and kids having picnics and popsicles in the center.

  71. Stray bale gardening has been the perfect solution to our lack of good soil situation. We launched last year with 6 bales planted with tomatoes, peppers and zucchini. This solved several issues of how to have veggies before our raised bed soil became good enough and how to garden on a sloping yard. We will add more bales this year, ditching some veggies in favor of others and provide some support to the bales themselves. Can’t wait!

  72. Daryl says:

    Do you offer any hope for those of us smitten by seed catalogs? I’ve already started 8 varieties of peppers, 3 of eggplant and 13 tomatoes – and I still have 3 seed orders in waiting.

  73. stephanie says:

    I went with a messy gardening technique last year and kind of just put stuff wherever they fit. Well there was definantly some difficulties in growing with this. I will definantly try to put more thought into the placement this year!

  74. Caroline says:

    My garden consists of three raised beds and a narrow oddly shaped side yard. I start with a plan in January, but by April I am cramming veggies anywhere I can find dirt and sun. Any design would be an improvement, and since the garden is completely visible from the street, my neighbors would benefit as well!

  75. Melissa says:

    I typically plant in straight long rows, but since we moved I am starting from scratch. I told my husband that it should also be pretty!

  76. Shirley says:

    I’ve tried my hand at square foot gardening, and planted in rows. I’ve planted a lot of salad gardens in pots too. Never got this fancy, though I’d love to try it. Please enter me to win a copy of your book. I twittered this post/contest too.

  77. Jenny says:

    Growing in rows is a hard habit to break. I don’t know if I could handle everything willy nilly in my veggie garden. It would seem very overwhelming when I needed to weed but I would like to give it a try as I use an empty flower bed for more veggies.

  78. Charlie benedick says:

    Oh I need some help! I have never planted a vegetable garden and want to teach my grandchildren the benefits and GOODNESS of home grown vegetables. Their father, my son-in-law, passd away 3 weeks ago of cancer after a 2 year hard fought battle. So, with new beginnings and Spring’s promise of new life, I wish to teach them of better tomorrows that start right at home… In my backyard and theirs. They live in aDenver and I live in Virginia… But what does distance have to do with love? We will plant and learn in two states instead of one.

  79. theresa says:

    I love straight lines, but have been trying to move away from them, or at least soften them somehow. I’m working from scratch in my backyard and straight lines are easy!

  80. Ing says:

    Unfortunately, I plant by whim which means lots of time walking here and there. It’s not very organized.

  81. I always start out well with a plan but then quickly abandon it. A guide will help.

  82. Peg says:

    I don’t plant in rows because I don’t have the room. In fact, until I have some more dedicated space for growing veggies, I’m going to plant my tomatoes and herbs randomly in amongst my flowers. My garden is fairly new, as I’ve been redoing what was here when we moved to our new house last May. I also dug out the area around a rotting tree stump that was crowded with daylilies and planted an herb garden in there last summer, and will do so again this year. I’m also going to place pots on the sunny side of our house which is just sidewalk, and see what I can grow; maybe peppers and more tomatoes. Those will be in a row. :)

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