Vegetable Garden Planning

Vegetable Planning List

Here at our little "farm", we grow a great deal of the fresh fruits and vegetables that we eat.  The garden beds vary from season to season and we fill in from our local farmstand growers and the market, but part of the fun of edible gardening is the changing menu from our plant selections.  What follows is a simple list of things I normally grow in the garden each season. Now, there are just hundreds of veggies - this is just MY list, not a vegetable bible. 

To help anyone getting into food gardening, I have loosely organized some "codes" indicating what crops I find grow best from seeds, which are better from plants or "sets" (bulblets), what vegetables are easiest to grow for a good harvest, what offers the most value when compared to what you'd pay in a grocery store and - last but certainly not least to a home gardener - which are actually as lovely as any 'ornamental' shrub or flower in your landscaping. Personally, I think all well-grown plants are lovely, these are just ones that are outstanding with flowers, foliage or fruits that add color and interest to any planting.

Codes: S = Seed    P = Plants    E = Easy
              $ = Grocery Value V = Very Ornamental

Early Season

Peas (I prefer Sugar Snap Peas or 
Snow Peas)    S   E   $
Radishes  S  E
Lettuces   S  E  $  V
Mesclun Mix (salad greens)   S E $
Spring Onions (green onions)   S E
Chard (esp. Rainbow)   S E V
Spinach   S E
Oriental Greens (Pak Choi)   S E
Carrots, Beets  (these can be difficult in clay soils)

Warm Weather – Summer

Assorted Sweet Peppers (July)
Red, Yellow, Gold Peppers   P E $$$ V
Hot Peppers   P E $$ V
Tomatoes P E
Tomatoes: Heirloom/unusual tomatoes  $$$
Summer Squash S E
Winter Squash S E
Melons S E , unusual varieties $$

Green Beans  S E , Haricot Vertes $$,
Green Beans, Ornamental Runners S E V V
'Better Bush' tomatoes
Basil & Culinary Herbs $$ V V
Eggplant P E
Cucumbers S E
Okra S E (try 'Little Bubba!) V
Artichokes S $$ V V V

Fall – Winter

Radishes S E
Lettuces S E $
Mesclun Mix (salad greens) S E $$
Spring Onions (green onions) S E
Chard S E ('Rainbow' or 'Bright Lights' = V V V)
Spinach, Kale SE
Broccoli 'Green Comet'
Oriental Greens (Pak choi) S E $
Garlic, Elephant Garlic, Shallots (from sets)E $$
Cooking Onions cloves, (from sets) E
Leeks S
Collards P E
Cabbage P E
Broccoli P E
Cauliflower P E

Favorite Vegetable Seed/Plant Sources

I'm often asked if it's okay to buy plants from local "Big Box" stores. If you are a certified or philosophically hard-core organic gardener, then those are not for you.  Otherwise, they're fine -- my one added thought being: buy Big Box plants immediately when they come in. For reasons too complex to go into here, very few of those plants get decent care once "on the shelves" and they will be stressed almost immediately.   Once you get the hang of starting your own seeds -- which, I will tell you, generally involved getting them enough sunlight and not letting them dry out -- you'll save even more money and have even more fun by doing it all yourself.

Here are my favorite vegetable sources: - The Southern Exposure Seed Exchange has open pollinated and heirloom seeds for southern gardens - good folks. - A special organization dedicated to heirloom and open-pollinated, saved seeds grown and saved by their members (and you can become one and do it, too!).  Detailed veggie descriptions.  Want to take a personal stand against Big Ag owning all the seeds in the world?  These are your folks! - Bill McKay has developed an amazing line of Italian vegetable seeds and his newsletter is great. - One of the classic companies.  Great selection of garlic varieties. - Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds - Nichols Garden Nursery, everything from seeds to "worm factories". - The Vermont Bean Company has more than beans! - yep. They Grow Garlic.  And more Garlic! - note: singular (tomato) not plural.  Scads of tomato and pepper varieties.