You have purchased or planned out what seeds (and/or plants) you are going to be putting in your garden, now its time to figure out how you want your garden to look and where things are going to go.
It is very important to know that some plants cannot grow next to each other. This can be because of cross pollination issues (i.e. sweet peppers next to spicy peppers can yield some not-so-sweet peppers), pest issues (tomatoes and corn are susceptible to the same disease), and shade issues (tall plants near smaller sun-loving ones will prevent them from getting the sun they need).
Here is a list of plants you don’t want to be next door neighbors:
Beans (bush)– onions, garlic, chives
Beans (pole)– onions, beets, cabbage family
Beets– pole beans
Cabbage Family (cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, kale, kohlrabi)– strawberries, tomatoes, pole beans
Chives– peas, beans
Cucumbers– potatoes, aromatic herbs
Onions/Garlic– peas, beans
Peas– onions, garlic, potatoes, chives
Potatoes– pumpkins, squash family, cucumbers, sunflowers, tomatoes, raspberries
Squash family (pumpkins, winter squash varieties, summer squash varieties)– potatoes
Strawberries– cabbage family
Tomatoes– corn, potatoes, cabbage family
There is a flip side of that coin as well. There are plants that are awesome neighbors and should be grown next to each other if possible.
Squash/pumpkins and corn all need full sun during early growth but when planted next to each other, the corn shades the squash during the hot summer months.
Carrots and beets are the best of friends! Carrots take a long time to come up and sometimes rows can be lost. Beets planted in the same row come up earlier and mature faster. This helps to find the carrots and helps space them out after you harvest your beets.
This is a list of the good neighbors:
Asparagus– tomatoes, parsley, basil
Beans (bush)– potatoes, carrots, cucumbers, cabbage family, egg plant, summer savory, (most other vegetables and herbs)
Beans (pole)– corn, summer savory, sunflower
Beets– onions, kohlrabi
Cabbage Family (cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, kohlrabi, kale)– aromatic plants, potatoes, celery, dill, herbs, beets, onions
Carrots– peas, leaf lettuce, chives, onions, leeks, rosemary, sage, tomatoes
Celery– leeks, tomatoes, bush beans, cabbage family
Chives– carrots, tomatoes
Corn– potatoes, peas, beans, cucumbers, melons, pumpkins, squash family, peppers
Cucumbers– beans, corn, peas, radishes, sunflowers, lettuce
Eggplant– beans, potatoes, spinach
Leeks– onions, celery, carrots
Lettuce– carrots, radishes (the three of them make a great team!), strawberries, cucumbers, onions
Melons– corn, radish
Onions/Garlic– beets, strawberries, tomatoes, lettuce, leeks, summer savory, peppers
Parsley– tomatoes, asparagus
Peas– carrots, turnips, radishes, cucumbers, corn, beans, herbs
Potatoes– beans, corn, cabbage family, horseradish (planted at corners of the patch), marigolds, eggplant (lures the Colorado potato beetle)
Radishes– peas, lettuce, melons, cucumbers
Spinach– social butterfly, gets along with everyone!
Squash family (pumpkins, winter squash varieties, summer squash varieties)– corn
Strawberries– bush beans, spinach, lettuce (border), onions
Tomatoes– chives, onions, parsley, asparagus, marigolds, carrots
You also need to think about when they need to be planted. For example, beet seeds can be planted early and grow quickly. After they are harvested, you will have a bare area of your garden. You can choose to leave it bare, plant a successive planting of the same thing, or plant something new.
There are also some seeds that should be started indoors and not sown directly into the garden. Peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussels sprouts, onions, eggplant, and melon seedlings should be started indoors. If you don’t, they may not germinate or won’t have enough time to grow.
Here is a helpful graphic of when to start seedlings indoors (Wisconsin zone 5). If you are in a different zone, check out veggieharvest.com for your zone’s schedule.
If you planted in the same garden last year, make sure to rotate some crops around. Planting the same thing in the same spot every year (other than perennial varieties) can pose more risk for disease.
Finally, you have to think about how much space your plants will take up. Carrots, for example, do not take up much space at all. Pumpkins and squash on the other hand, vine out to be very large and need a lot of room to grow.
Taking that into consideration, there are a few ways to actually plan your garden layout.
A Computer Model
KGI Garden Planner is a great, easy to use garden planner that not only helps you decide where to plant things, but also can tell you how much to plant, gives advice on crop rotation and successive planting, is completely customizable with different layouts and has tons of vegetable/fruit/herb choices to add to your garden. It is free for 7 days so I recommend getting it done within that time frame (I’m all about free!). Motherearthnews.com also has a similar planner.
Good Ol’ Pen and Paper
Get out a scratch sheet of paper (graph paper works well) and a pencil. Draw out the size of your garden and use boxes, circles, lines, etc. to plan out where you want your plants to go. Its nice to have a key on the side to keep track of what is what. Another idea is to take highlighters or markers to outline your areas, giving each vegetable/fruit their own color.
I’ve done this for years. I go out to my garden at planting time and start throwing seeds and plants in. Okay, I have a general idea of where I am going to put things but no concrete plans. This is much easier to do once you become more experienced as a gardener. If you are new to gardening, I’d recommend planning it out. The years I did actually write out a plan, I did find that it helped a lot.
If you are planting on a container garden, the planning will be a little different. You will be able to space them as you wish and move them around as needed.
Also, don’t forget to plant a few flowers in or near your garden! The bees they attract will help pollinate your garden!
Take a couple hours and plan your garden, you will be thankful that you did! If you are a seasoned gardener, what are your favorite garden layout tips?
If you missed it, check out my first Garden Planning post: Garden Planning Part 1: Purchasing Seeds