5 Steps to Planning Your First Edible Garden

I saw a sign the other day that said "spring is here! I'm so excited I wet my plants!" and I totally said YAAAAAAAS because I am definitely that girl this year. Call me Green Thumbs McGee. Well, wanna-be Green Thumbs McGee. You see, this is my first year attempting a big garden (other than a few tomato stalks or annual flowers) so I really have no clue what's in store for me. I have done my research (like, a lot of research... even the guy at our local nursery was impressed which made me feel like a baller) and I hope that my first crop will be incredibly fruitful, but it may fail completely. And I'm okay with that, because you have to start somewhere! So take my tips below with a grain of salt since I'm a first year gardener and new to this entire thing- this is just what I've tried and what I believe will work based on lots and lots and lots of research (that I'll hopefully save you from!).

Today's post is all about the first step of your garden: planning. It'd be really easy to just throw out a bunch of seeds and call it a day, right? Well, it's not that easy. I mean, it could be that easy if you've got some great soil and a green thumb! But your garden will be a bit more intentional, and hopefully more profitable, if you take the time to actually plan out the space and design your garden with intent. And if you're type A (cough, OCD, cough) like me, it's really fun to make these plans! With that said, here's my take on the best five steps to planning your first edible garden.

1. Pick a space for your garden.

Do you have a big yard? If so, pick a sunny corner and start measuring out your new garden space with a few stakes. Don't have a big yard? Invest in a few large potting containers or elevated beds (I love this one and this one!) so you have an idea of where you'll be planting. Regardless of the size of your space or containers, draw the area out on paper (graph paper if you're dorky like me!) so you can better visualize the space. Take into consideration the cardinal direction of your space and any possible shade trees or buildings so you can determine which areas get the most sun.

Of course, we're planting our garden out at the farm this year. You can actually see a video tour of the garden space right here if you want to check it out. Down the road, we eventually want to fill out something gigantic like a 50x50 foot space (I know, big dreams) but this year we are starting smaller with a 22 foot wide by 14 foot deep garden space. It's a big, sunny, relatively flat space we can't wait to get our hands on.

2. Make a list of what you want to plant.

Before you start filling your mapped out garden space, take a minute to think about what edible plants you want to grow in your garden. What fruits and veggies does your family like? What do you eat a lot of? What edibles are worth planting to save you their expensive costs at the grocery store? What fruits and veggies grow well in your area? Or, specifically, in your soil type? The answers to those last few questions may take a little research. For you Georgia folks, I highly suggest picking up a copy of this Walter Reeves book (or any Walter Reeves book/articles for that matter! he's a gardening genius!). I've also really, really loved Kitchen Gardening for Beginners, it's sort of my new favorite companion that I carry around in my purse because I'm cool like that. There are also some really great articles by bloggers and magazines that you can find via Pinterest- feel free to follow my gardening board for some of my favorite ideas!

This year, we've decided to plant: blueberries, beets, strawberries, raspeberries, kale, spinach, onions, peas, potatoes, carrots, corn, watermelon, tomatoes, bell peppers, eggplant, pumpkins and herbs.

3. Research companion planting.

I came across this concept in one of my gardening books and it seems like such a genius idea. Companion planting is basically the art of pairing certain veggies and fruits together that grow well next to each other; conversely, it's also separating plants that typically stunt each other's growth or do harm to one another. Seems like a smart idea, right? And so easy, once you have the information. I took my list of all of the veggies/fruits we wanted to plant and simply took the information I learned from various companion planting articles and paired them up/separated which plants worked best together. For more info on companion planting, search Pinterest for great articles like this link.

4. Put the pieces together like a puzzle.

Now that you've got your space sketched out, your list of edibles to plant and your pairs of what veggies/fruits that do/don't work together, it's time to put all of the pieces together like a puzzle. It's also helpful to understand how much space each type of veggie/fruit needs to grow. For example, I learned that our blueberry bushes need about three feet and need very acidic soil to grow (unlike most of the other edibles I'm planting), so I planned a 3 foot wide by 6 foot wide blueberry patch for two plants in the corner of my garden.

5. Add in the details and then sketch out the entire garden plan before you implement.

Before you consider your garden space final, make sure you include any of the extra details in your plan. Do you need a fence to keep out critters? We have a ton of wild animals (deer, turkey, rabbits, etc.) at the farm, so we had to make a big fence a priority. I'll definitely share more details on how we did our fence later but make sure you include one in your plan if needed! What about walking paths between the beds? Do you plan to construct raised beds or work straight into the soil? Did you leave any space to plant wildflowers or other helpful pollinators/pest control plants like lavender? Making sure you have room for all of these little details is what will make your time spent planning your garden well worth it!

Next up? Getting your space ready for your garden! David and I have been hard at work the past couple of weeks prepping our space... I can't wait to share!

What are your best garden planning tips?


  1. Be sure with the blueberries to get at least two different varieties, as it is needed for cross pollination. Also, raspberry bushes can be invasive sending runners throughout the soil. Lavender does well in our heat but prefers sandier soil.
    Can't wait to see it come together.

    1. Yes! We got two different types of blueberries. On the raspberries, hopefully the 2.5x2 foot space I gave them is enough to contain those roots? Maybe we should dig a little trench around that plot? Our soil is silty clay, we'll see how the lavender does! Send any more insight, I need all the help I can get! Thanks friend : )

  2. So I grew up with raspberries and I want you to be fair warned, they spread and spread and spread, in my lifetime, they went from a 3 foot patch, to taking over a 13 foot plant bed in my mother's garden. She had to move and restart her rhubarb, peppers, tomato plants and herbs to a complete other area. They're hearty and wonderful, but they will take over. Its like chives and mint, they can take over a well planned garden. Good luck!


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