Grow Your Own Salsa: How to Grow a Salsa Garden

Grow Your Own Salsa: How to Grow a Salsa Garden

Learn how to grow all of the ingredients you need to make a delicious homemade salsa in your very own salsa garden.

If you love fresh, homemade salsa for your tortilla chips, tacos, and burritos, growing a salsa garden is a must!

There’s nothing like the taste of fresh salsa made with fresh ingredients from your own garden. It truly is so much better than salsa from a grocery store. If you want to grow salsa ingredients in your vegetable garden, this is the ultimate guide to growing your own salsa garden. 

What is a Salsa Garden?

A salsa garden is a backyard garden that grows the ingredients needed for homemade salsa. A salsa garden can be a container garden, a raised bed garden, or an in-ground garden. 

Salsa gardens can have any fruits or vegetables that grow in your gardening zone and that you enjoy in salsa. The most common things to grow in a salsa garden are:

In warm climates, limes and mangos are great choices for a salsa garden. If you are in a cold climate, you can grow dwarf trees in pots and bring them inside during cool weather. It’s important to note, however, that lime and mangoes take years to get established and bear substantial fruit.

a basket of salsa garden ingredients

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Salsa Garden Spacing

No matter how big your garden is, you can grow a successful salsa garden! Those who are growing in small spaces can grow their plants in pots. The book Square Foot Gardening is a great resource for spacing plants appropriately in smaller gardens. 

Each plant needs a minimum amount of space to be successful. If the plants are crowded, they will compete for resources and all of them will suffer. Here are the average minimum space requirements for salsa garden plants:

Tomatoes: 2-3 feet.

Peppers: 12 inches

Onions: 4 inches

Cilantro: 6 inches

Garlic: 6 inches

Tomatillos: 2-3 feet

In planning your salsa garden layout, I recommend interplanting. To interplant means to integrate the vegetables rather than have neat rows that are grouped by plant type. This is beneficial by saving space and allowing companion planting to work its magic. 

For example, cilantro doesn’t grow well in the heat of summer. If you plant it under and in between your tomato plants, their shade will keep a cooler climate for the cilantro to grow. 

Tips for Having a Successful Salsa Garden

  • Be sure you are planting your salsa garden in healthy, rich soil. I recommend getting a soil test to determine what types of amendments your soil needs. At the very least, mix in lots of compost and continually feed the soil health with organic matter. You can also add mycorrhizae to give your plants a healthy start.
  • Pay attention to planting and growing times for the salsa garden plants. Tomatillos, tomatoes, and peppers are all sensitive to cool weather and cilantro is sensitive to heat. It’s important to put the proper time into planning your garden so you know your proper planting schedule.
  • If you’re new to gardening, I recommend buying your seedlings from a local nursery. Seed starting can be challenging and overwhelming, so it’s best to start slow and have fun your first year. 
a basket of colorful tomatoes

How to Grow Tomatoes

Tomatoes need lots of water, plenty of sun, and good airflow. Ensure that your tomato plants are receiving at least six hours of sun per day and mulch the soil to retain moisture. Plant tomatoes in soil with lots of compost; tomatoes are heavy feeders. 

Plant tomatoes in early spring or late summer after any danger of frost has passed. Tomato plants thrive in warm weather, so ensure the soil temperature is consistently above 50°F (10°C) using a soil thermometer. 

When the plants are still young, trellis them with tomato cages or stakes and twine (also called the Florida weave).

Provide adequate spacing for your tomato plants and keep the bottom branches pruned throughout the summer. Good airflow prevents disease, which tomatoes are particularly prone to. 

Good Tomato Varieties for Salsa

Paste tomatoes are the ideal varieties for salsa, but any tomato can be made into a delicious salsa. Here are a few of my favorites: 

a hand picking a jalapeno pepper

How to Grow Peppers

Plant peppers in a nice sunny spot and mulch the soil. It’s best to secure them to a stake as they grow larger, but not necessarily required for small pepper varieties. 

For the first couple weeks after you plant the seedlings, remove flower buds so the plant can focus its energy on growing strong roots. 

Once the pepper plant has about 3 sets of leaves, you can top it to encourage bushy growth. Topping isn’t necessary to get peppers, but it does produce strong plants and often leads to more abundant harvests later on. 

Best Pepper Varieties for a Salsa Garden

Most of the pepper varieties that are delicious in salsa are rather hot. If you don’t like spicy salsa, I recommend just sticking with sweet bell peppers and maybe some jalapenos (pick them young to keep them milder). Here are the best hot peppers for salsa:

How to Grow Onions

Onions are a bit trickier to grow because they require a fairly long growing season. I recommend buying onion sets rather than growing them from seed.

Plant onion sets in early spring once the ground is workable. They can handle the cold weather. If you are in an area with a short growing season, choose a short-day onion variety and plant it as early as possible. 

Onions don’t need a ton of space to grow well, but be sure to give them at least 4 inches each so they have room to produce large bulbs. 

Onions are ready to harvest when about ¾ of the onion necks have fallen over and begun to dry and the neck of the plant is drying out. Carefully loosen the soil around them, then pull up. Onions can be cured and stored long-term or used right away. 

Best onions to grow for a salsa garden

a hand holding onion seeds
an onion growing in the ground

How to Grow Cilantro

Cilantro is easy to grow, but it has a very short growing season. Plant cilantro seedlings outdoors in spring or fall to avoid hot temperatures and consider growing it in shade from a larger plant or a shade cloth

Harvest your cilantro as soon as the leaves are full-sized and avoid taking more than ⅓ of the plant at a time so it can keep producing. Once cilantro has bolted, it is still edible but it will stop producing leaves. Cilantro blooms are edible flowers, however, so use them as a flavorful garnish for your salsa!
I like to grow this cilantro because it is bolt-resistant.

How to Grow Tomatillos

Plant tomatillo seedlings about 2-3 feet apart after the last frost date in your area. Tomatillos are much like tomatoes, so be sure the soil temp is above 50°F (10°C).

Water your tomatillos regularly, aiming to keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged. As the plants grow, support them with stakes or cages, as tomatillos can become top-heavy when laden with fruit.

Tomatillos will begin to form papery husks around their small green fruits. Harvest when the husks turn brown and split, revealing the ripe fruit underneath. 

Best Tomatillo Varieties for a Salsa Garden

a hand holding tomatillos

How to Grow Garlic

Garlic is a unique garden vegetable because it is often planted in the fall. This does depend on the variety, however. 

Hardneck vs. Softneck Garlic

There are two types of garlic; hardneck and softneck. Hardneck is the more common variety. It is planted in the fall and is known for producing flavorful garlic scapes that can be made into all sorts of delicious recipes. Softneck garlic is planted in the spring and is better for long-term storage. 

Hardneck garlic is considered to be more flavorful and it produces bigger garlic cloves. Softneck garlic doesn’t require as much planning ahead and it is better for drying and storing. Both garlic varieties are great to grow, it just depends on your climate and desires. 

Growing and Harvesting Garlic

To plant garlic, break the garlic head up into its individual cloves but keep them all wrapped in their papery skin. Plant each garlic clove about 6 inches apart and 2-4 inches deep with the pointed side up. 

If you’re growing hardneck garlic, be sure to harvest the scapes in early summer to encourage larger garlic bulbs on the plants.

Harvest garlic when the lower 3 leaves have turned brown and dry. Once harvested, you can enjoy your garlic fresh or cure it for long-term storage. 

Delicious Recipes to Make with Salsa Garden Harvests

Now that you’ve grown fresh, delicious salsa garden veggies, it’s time to make something amazing with them! Here are my favorite recipes to make with my salsa vegetables:

how to grow a salsa garden over a picture of tomatoes
How to Repel Chipmunks with Coffee Grounds & Other Methods

How to Repel Chipmunks with Coffee Grounds & Other Methods

Keep the chipmunks from eating your garden the natural way! Learn how to repel small rodents with coffee grounds and several other simple, organic methods. No more losing your flowers, vegetables, and fruits to the chipmunks.

Will Coffee Grounds Keep Chipmunks Away?

Yes, coffee grounds repel chipmunks, squirrels, and some other rodents because they do not like the smell of coffee grounds. The use of coffee grounds as a natural repellent for pests is an effective way to keep chipmunks from eating your garden without any chemicals or traps.

Coffee grounds are not foolproof, unfortunately. Some of the most determined rodents will power through and the scent of the coffee grounds quickly dissipates as it dries out. We’ll go into how to get the best results possible below.

Table of Contents

A shovel of coffee grounds being help up above a bucket of coffee grounds

Why Repel Chipmunks and Squirrels

Almost every home gardener has to deal with pests at some point. Small rodents such as chipmunks, squirrels, and rabbits can be among the most damaging. Other times, these small rodents are completely harmless.

I try to keep an ecosystem mindset when it comes to my garden. Bugs and animals can and will eat some of my garden, and that’s okay. I do not want a sterile garden that is void of life. That said, when the ecosystem is out of balance, these pests can cause serious harm.

I’ve had my fair share of little critters taking bites out of my vegetable garden crops and digging up my flower beds. If you find yourself with a garden destroyed by a chipmunk problem, repelling them may be necessary so you can enjoy your harvests. 

How to Use Coffee Ground to Keep Critters Away

Coffee grounds are a great place to start in repelling chipmunks because they are free, natural, and actually improve the soil over time. 

The simplest way to use coffee grounds is to spread them on the ground around the perimeter of your garden or garden beds. This creates a barrier that the chipmunks will have to cross in order to get to your veggies. 

You can also spread the coffee grounds around the plants like a mulch. I have done this as a soil amendment and it does help with the rodents as well. There are a few things to keep in mind if you spread them over your soil. 

First, the coffee grounds will tie up nitrogen in the soil as they break down. This isn’t a huge problem if you are spreading them over the surface, because the plant roots will still have plenty of nitrogen-rich soil down below. 

Another consideration is that when coffee grounds dry out, they can become hydrophobic and block the water from entering the soil. If you are spreading the coffee grounds thickly, consider mulching over them with leaves or grass clippings to trap some of the moisture in and keep the grounds wet.

To be effective as a natural deterrent to chipmunks, coffee grounds will need to be replenished every few weeks or as they dry out and lose their smell. If you notice they aren’t working like they used to, add a fresh layer.

A shovel sprinkling coffee grounds onto a garden

Will Coffee Grounds Make My Soil Acidic?

It is commonly believed that adding coffee grounds to your garden will cause the soil to be acidic. It’s an understandable assumption because both coffee beans and brewed coffee are acidic. 

However, this is not the case with soil because the old coffee grounds are no longer acidic once the coffee has been extracted from them. That said, you should keep the amount you are adding to a reasonable amount. Don’t dump a thick layer of coffee grounds on your garden beds regularly.

In order to prevent your soil from becoming acidic, make sure you are not using unused coffee grounds. Freshly ground coffee beans will make your soil acidic and they should not be used in the garden. Get coffee grounds that are leftover from brewing coffee and use those instead.

This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through the links, I will earn a small commission that helps me continue to provide gardening content. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Read my full disclosure here.

Where to Get A Lot of Coffee Grounds

If you have a large garden and you don’t drink tons of coffee every day, you may feel like you’ll never be able to save up enough coffee grounds to repel the chipmunks. Most households won’t produce enough coffee grounds to do this, but there are other places to get it. 

I’ve had the best luck with a local coffee shop. The smaller, locally-owned coffee shops are often happy to pass along their used coffee grounds and they produce pounds of them each day. Some may want to give them to you bagged while others may ask that you bring your own bucket for them to fill. Simply call or visit some local coffee shops and ask the baristas if they are willing to save their coffee grounds for you.

Starbucks and other chain coffee shops may also offer used coffee grounds. They will be less flexible and unwilling to work with you than local coffee shops, but they also produce a lot and often bag them and store them somewhere for gardeners to grab.

It may take some time and rejection to find a coffee shop that will give you coffee grounds, but it will be worth it. You will save loads of grounds from the landfill, improve your soil health, and repel the critters that are eating your garden.

a 5 gallon bucket of coffee grounds

Other Things You Can Do

Coffee grounds are not the perfect way to repel those pesky chipmunks. There is no perfect way and it often requires some trial and error. The best solution is a combination of methods to keep the rodents from destroying your vegetable garden. The good news is there are many other great methods you may employ!

Hot Peppers

Hot peppers are my favorite way to keep rodents from eating my garden because they are so effective. Hot peppers can hurt their mouths and noses with the spice, but not in an inhumane way. 

To use this method, you can sprinkle cayenne powder or chili powder directly onto the soil and plants. 

Another way is to make a spray with cayenne extract and water in a spray bottle and then mist it all over the soil and plants. I usually do around one dropper full to 16 ounces of water. This method works a little bit better because the wind sometimes blows the dried cayenne pepper away too easily. 

Both hot pepper spray and hot pepper powder will need to be replenished regularly, especially after overhead watering or heavy rain. 

dropping drips of cayenne extract into a spray bottle of water
A hand holding a bottle of peppermint oil

Essential Oils

Essential oils are another natural and effective chipmunk repellent. Peppermint is a strong scent that rodents do not like, so using peppermint oil is a great way to keep them out of the garden. I used peppermint oil to keep mice out of my shed and it worked beautifully. This method can be a little bit pricey, but it’s effective and smells delightful!

To use peppermint essential oil, drop several drops onto 100% cotton balls and distribute the cotton balls around your garden. Refresh the oil as needed when you notice the smell dissipating. I do recommend using essential oils from a reputable brand so you know they are real 100% essential oils. I personally use Aura Cacia because it is accessible, affordable, and my research has determined it to be quality.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is another method that uses a pungent smell to repel the chipmunks. Small rodents do not like the smell of vinegar, so spraying it around the plants will help keep them away. To make an apple cider vinegar spray, combine it in a 1:1 ratio of vinegar to water and mist it on and around your plants.

Irish Spring Soap

A common deterrent for wildlife is shaved Irish spring soap. This sounds unusual, but this particular soap has a strong smell that wildlife doesn’t like. To try this method, I recommend shredding it with a cheese grater and sprinkling it around the soil. 

It is important to note, however, that the soap may have an effect on soil health. I would avoid this method in vegetable gardens and flower beds with sensitive plants.

A chicken wire cage over a strawberry patch

Physical Barriers

Physical barriers are one of the most effective ways to keep chipmunks away from your garden, but they have their downsides too. The primary con of physical barriers is the cost and the effort involved in building them.

A physical barrier can be an enclosure around the entire garden, like a fence, or a chicken wire cage over a specific area or raised bed. 

Physical barriers are not foolproof if the rodents are particularly determined, but the effort required to break in usually deters them. 

Attract Predators

One of the most natural ways to keep unwanted pests away is by making your yard an ecosystem. Bring in natural predators by installing an owl box to help with the population of the small rodents. 

This may not be a good option if you have chickens or rabbits free-ranging. While owls aren’t typically a predator because they are nocturnal, it is worth considering before installing an owl house.

Reduce the Attractions

An important aspect of keeping chipmunks out of your garden is not attracting them in the first place. Along with repelling them, make sure you eliminate food sources as much as possible. 

This may mean removing pet food and bird seed and using a closed compost pile. While removing these sources of food won’t immediately send the rodents away, it will help with the problem. 

A chicken eating seeds from a bucket

Fake Predators

Scaring the chipmunks away with fake signs of predators is a great way to keep them out of your garden. Predator urine can be purchased online and sprayed around the garden. The strong smell of it warns small mammals of a potential predator so they stay away. Sometimes rubber snakes or plastic owls can work too, but make sure you are regularly moving them.

Your Yard is an Ecosystem

While you work to keep the chipmunks from eating your whole garden, it’s important to remember that some nibbles are a good thing. When you are growing a healthy garden the organic way, it’s natural – and a good thing – to have some bugs and wildlife. A healthy garden attracts them and each species keeps the others in balance. When one species takes over, such as an aphid infestation or chipmunks destroying all of your plants, then it is a problem. If you find the odd tomato with nibbles taken out of it, don’t fret. It simply means your yard is a vibrant ecosystem for insects, animals, and you to enjoy.

More Helpful Gardening Articles


Oregon State University

An image of a shovel full of coffee grounds and an image of two chipmunks
21 Best Vegetable Gardening Books for Beginners (2023)

21 Best Vegetable Gardening Books for Beginners (2023)

If you are new to gardening and looking for a book to learn how, you probably already know that there are so many gardening books out there.

Finding one that is worth spending your money on may feel like a daunting task. Not to worry; I did the work for you and made a list of the best gardening books.

Gardening is life-changing and exciting and I want everyone to feel like they can start their own vegetable garden. While there is a lot of information out there, finding the perfect book to get you started doesn’t have to be so overwhelming.


Why Should You Trust This List?

All of these books have been carefully curated from the thousands of gardening books out there. I personally selected them because they have clear and concise writing, beautiful photos or graphics, a wealth of topical knowledge, and they make gardening accessible for all. 

I’ve read and skimmed a lot of gardening books that made gardening feel overwhelming, bored me, or were simply unhelpful. It took a lot of mediocre books to find this list of the best books on vegetable gardening. 

The inside of a gardening book. The book has a photo of a dog in a raised bed with a dog house underneath.

The Best Books on Vegetable Gardening

If you’re looking for some great books on vegetable gardening and feeling overwhelmed with all of the options, you aren’t alone. Finding a great book shouldn’t be your biggest hurdle in starting a garden!

Here is a list of the best books on gardening to equip you to grow your own food and have a blast doing it. I’ve read a lot of gardening books and gathered a lot of opinions from others to choose this assortment of books so that you can get started without reading hundreds of book reviews.

This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through the links, I will earn a small commission that helps me continue to provide gardening content. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Read my full disclosure here.


Best Vegetable Gardening Books: Quick Guide

If you aren’t keen on looking through all twenty-one of the books I recommend, here are my top three recommendations for beginners:

  1. Gardening for Everyone by Julia Watkins
  2. Organic Gardening the Natural No-Dig Way by Charles Dowding
  3. All New Square Foot Gardening (3rd Edition) by Mel Bartholomew

If you want to jump ahead to the categories that interest you, click on the link below:

  1. Best Gardening Books for Beginners
  2. Best Books on Regenerative and Organic Gardening
  3. Best Book on Permaculture
  4. Best Books for Year-Round Gardening
  5. The Best Comprehensive Guide to Gardening
  6. Best Books for Maximizing Small Growing Spaces
  7. The Best Book about Raised Bed Gardening
  8. The Best Book on Growing Herbs

a garden book open in a garden. The page it is open to has text on one side and a photo of a flower garden on the other.

Best Gardening Books for Beginners

Gardening for Everyone by Julia Watkins

Julia Watkins’ book on gardening is one of my favorite gardening books ever. It is packed with absolutely beautiful photography, practical information, and fun yet useful projects for your garden. With the simple guides in the book, you can learn to brew compost tea, make your own seed tape, bake lilac scones, and more.

I like this book for beginner gardeners because it makes everything feel simple. A lot of gardening books made me feel overwhelmed and bombarded with information when I was first learning about gardening. This book feels simple while still offering loads of information. If you want a book that makes gardening fun, this book is a delightful and helpful resource for learning to garden.

Organic Gardening the Natural No-Dig Way by Charles Dowding

This is one of my favorite books – and my favorite authors – for learning to garden. Charles Dowding is a well-known gardener from the UK who specializes in the no-dig method. His books are packed with years of experience and experimenting to find the best growing methods. 

Dowding’s writing is clear and concise, which educates readers thoroughly without confusing or causing overwhelm. This is a book I return to over and over again because it covers so many areas of gardening in such a thorough manner. I would recommend this book for new and seasoned gardeners alike.


The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible by Edward C. Smith

This book covers just about everything one needs to start and maintain a garden. It covers the basics as well as Smith’s signature gardening method for high yield harvest, “W-O-R-D: Wide rows, organic methods, raised beds, deep soil.” 

Smith has years of experience and has developed fine-tuned methods for growing not just a good garden, but the best garden you possibly can. This book is a classic, much-loved gardening book that comes highly recommended. As you begin your gardening journey, this is definitely one to keep on the bookshelf to return to throughout the season.

Vegetable Gardening for Beginners: A Simple Guide to Growing Vegetables at Home by Jill McSheehy

This book is one of the most straightforward books on starting a garden that I’ve found. Many books cover the process of choosing your vegetables and growing them, but few focus on the process of getting started as much as this one. 

McSheehy writes a very accessible book for those who have never gardened with a glossary of common gardening terms and a “know before you grow” section. You’ll learn all about planning, building, and planting a vegetable garden in this beautifully illustrated guide to growing your own vegetables.

Mastering the Art of Vegetable Gardening by Matt Mattus

Mastering the Art of Vegetable Gardening is a comprehensive guide for gardeners of all skill levels who want to create a thriving vegetable garden.

This book focuses on all of the common garden vegetables and how to grow them. I like the nitty-gritty approach Mattus takes; rather than a big-picture view of gardening, you will learn exactly how to grow each of the vegetables featured in this book. It also offers many rare and unique varieties to grow, including a lot of perennials!

Organic Gardening for Everyone by CaliKim

This book is an ideal place to begin for someone who has never gardened before. Full of gorgeous photos and a quick yet informative read, this is a great place to learn all of the basics of starting and maintaining a garden. 

What sets Organic Gardening for Everyone apart is CaliKim’s accessible writing style and her focus on making gardening available to everyone, regardless of their experience level or the size of their garden. You’ll learn everything from how to prep a garden for planting to the proper and ideal methods of watering your plants. This is a great book for learning all of the basics before you dive into your first garden.

Best Books on Regenerative and Organic Gardening

These books cover topics that help with no-spray pest control and biological gardening. You can learn more about regenerative and biological gardening here.

Soil Science for Successful Vegetable Gardening by Bruce Mccord

This book is the perfect beginners guide to nurturing healthy soil for your vegetable garden. Building soil health is a critical and often overlooked aspect of gardening, so this book touches on an important topic. It provides a thorough introduction to the science of soil and explains how to assess and amend soil to create optimal growing conditions for vegetables.

With clear and concise explanations, the book covers topics such as soil structure, pH levels, and nutrient availability. McCord also provides practical advice on composting, cover cropping, and other techniques for improving soil health.

If you are ready to dive into building soil health for the most productive and resilient garden possible, this book is a fantastic place to start.

Companion Planting for Beginners by Brian Lowell

Companion Planting for Beginners is a beginner-friendly guide that explains the benefits of planting compatible crops together for better yields, pest control, and soil health. 

The book covers a wide range of topics, from understanding the basic principles of companion planting to selecting the right plant combinations for your garden. 

Lowell also thoroughly covers how to manage pests and disease in an organic way, including how to attract beneficial bugs to your garden. This book covers a lot of topics that aren’t commonly found in vegetable garden books, making it a highly useful resource to have on hand.

Attracting Beneficial Bugs to Your Garden: A Natural Approach to Pest Control by Jessica Walliser

This book is important for anyone who wants a regenerative, organic garden. Attracting beneficial bugs is a key component of having a healthy no-spray garden that is not overrun by pests. 

This book covers all of the important tiny critters you need in your garden and what to grow to attract them. It is a comprehensive guide on organic, no-spray pest control that is a must-read for anyone who is avoiding pesticides of all varieties.

Growing Perennial Foods by Acadia Tucker and Krishna Chavda

Perennials are an invaluable part of a garden. They produce earlier than most annuals, build long-term soil health, save money, and generally require less work. 

While edible plants that are perennial are rare, this book offers 34 different varieties and expert advice on how to grow them. 

I particularly love all of the recipes in the book and the section of frequently asked questions. This book isn’t filled with fluff; it gets straight to the point and is a fun and inspiring read.

Best Book on Permaculture

Creating Your Permaculture Heaven by Nydia Needham

Creating Your Permaculture Heaven is a practical and inspiring guide for anyone interested in creating a sustainable and self-sufficient garden using permaculture principles. 

The book covers a wide range of topics, including soil health, water management, companion planting, and natural pest control. 

Needham also provides practical advice on designing and implementing a permaculture garden, as well as tips on selecting the best plants for your climate and soil. If you’re interested in implementing permaculture in your garden, this is the perfect book to learn all of the basics.

Best Books for Year-Round Gardening

Year-Round Indoor Salad Gardening by Peter Burke

This book covers everything you’ll ever need to know about growing nutrient-dense microgreens indoors. It’s a simple take on indoor gardening that requires no lights, little space, and no elaborate hydroponics equipment. 

This book is a wonderful resource for dipping your toes in the water of growing your own food or having homegrown greens all throughout the year. The book simplifies the process with step-by-step instructions, tips, and recipes to use those microgreens.

Four-Season Food Gardening by Misilla dela Llana

This unique book teaches readers all about how to grow food all year round, even in cold climates.

The book is split into chapters based on the four seasons and walks readers through what to plant during that time with gardening tips and information based on that season. 

I love the approach this author takes by fully equipping you for each season of growing.

There is also a chapter on season extenders, which is very helpful for anyone in a cold climate who wants to grow more food. This is a great book for any gardeners, but especially those who want to grow food year-round. If you want to make the most of your garden with season extenders and unique, cold-hardy plants, you’ll want to read this book. 


Year-Round Gardening by Niki Jabbour

Another well-loved classic, this book is a great resource for those who want to grow their own vegetables year-round. 

It dives into timing, intensive planting, and winter gardening to equip you to grow the most food possible. 

What I find the most useful in the book, however, is the directory on vegetables and herbs. Many books have a directory, but Jabbour’s is very thorough yet concise. Each vegetable feature offers information on when to grow them, how to grow them, harvesting tips, and variety suggestions. This book is a great place to start if you want to extend your growing season. 

Backyard Harvest by Jo Whittingham

This colorful, fun book is a delightful, inspiring read. The information in it is quick and to-the-point so the photos and fun ideas can shine.

My favorite part of this book is how it goes month-by-month with tips, to-dos, and more. Lots of gardening books are laid out this way, but few make it as un-daunting as Whittingham does.

This book also mixes in some fun harvest content that other gardening books don’t, such as how to make a fruit cordial or how to dry fruits and vegetables. This book is the perfect one for a new gardener who needs to see the big picture of gardening by looking at the growing season in months.

Best Comprehensive Guide to Gardening

The Complete Gardener’s Guide, by DK 

This book is aptly named, at well over 400 pages which cover everything from installing a deck to growing shallots. This is the kind of book you keep on hand as a reference guide to have as a resource all throughout the gardening process. 

Chock-full of information that is well-organized and simply laid out, this is a great book to have as a gardening encyclopedia. 

In it, you’ll learn all about garden design, planting annuals, perennials, trees, and scrubs, and you’ll find a huge vegetable directory with information on every vegetable you may want to grow.


Best Books for Maximizing Small Growing Spaces

All New Square Foot Gardening (3rd Edition) by Mel Bartholomew

The Square Foot Gardening method is a tested and revolutionary approach to gardening that is low-waste and high-yield. 

Bartholomew challenges many traditional gardening practices, such as narrow rows, heavy fertilizing, and soil choices. The method works by physically delineating your garden space into a 1 foot by 1 foot grid and growing plants within the squares to maximize space. 

Batholomew gives the exact amounts of each vegetable that should be grown in a square foot (i.e. one broccoli plant or 16 beets) and helps readers understand intensive succession gardening. If you have limited space or like a lot of structure in your gardening, this book is perfect for you.

Field Guide to Urban Gardening by Kevin Espiritu

This book is ideal for anyone who is gardening in a smaller space. It has great tips and project ideas for a balcony or patio garden as well as information on how to maximize small garden spaces. 

The book is split into chapters on every aspect of small-space gardening: container gardening, raised beds, indoor gardening, vertical gardening, growing on balconies and rooftops, and hydroponics. 

Espiritu uses a lot of creativity in making small spaces work with unique ideas like two-liter bottle gardens and hanging shoe-rack gardens. If you have limited space to garden and love DIY projects around the yard (or balcony!), this is your book.

Grow Bag Gardening by Kevin Espiritu

This book will teach you everything you need to know about gardening in grow bags. A grow bag is like a cloth pot. You can fill them with soil and use them for well-draining container gardening. Grow bags are perfect for gardening in a small space as they are portable, compact, and they store well in the off-season.

Espiritu takes years of experience gardening in grow bags and outlines his knowledge in an easily digestible yet highly informative book. The book has everything from DIY projects to nitty gritty information such as how to set up automatic watering. 

If you are growing on a balcony or want to expand your garden with containers, you’ll love this book.

Best Book about Raised Bed Gardening

Raised Bed Revolution by Tara Nolan

This book is fantastic for getting into raised bed gardening. Many gardeners are turning to raised beds as a way to avoid weeds, have control over their garden soil, and add visual appeal to their garden. This book is the perfect place to learn about growing in raised beds. 

It offers detailed plans for a wide variety of different raised beds so you can get to building straight from the book. It even has unique raised bed ideas like rooftop beds over a dog house or chicken run! 

This book covers everything you would possibly need to know to build a raised bed, fill it, and grow a thriving garden in it. It has a lot of inspiration for raised bed gardens and the practical knowledge for making one happen. 

Best Book on Growing Herbs

The Cook’s Herb Garden by Jeff Cox and Marie Pierre Moine

This book has everything you could possibly need to grow your own herbs! From a well-organized catalog of herbs to grow to recipes for using and preserving herbs, this book has it all. 

The photos are beautiful and helpful and the text will teach you how to plant herbs, the proper soil to grow them in, how to harvest and store them, and more.

If  you want to get into gardening with herbs or simply want to grow fresh herbs alongside your vegetables, I can’t recommend this book enough. 


a pinterest image. A photo of three vegetable gardening books with the text "best books on vegetable gardening"

How to Plan Your Vegetable Garden for 2023: Full Guide

How to Plan Your Vegetable Garden for 2023: Full Guide

If you’re new to gardening, the thought of starting your own home garden can seem a little daunting. There are a lot of factors to consider, knowledge to gain, and steps to take before you are harvesting fresh, beautiful produce from your backyard.

Don’t let the overwhelm stand in your way.

With a little careful planning and some great resources, you can create the perfect garden for growing your own vegetables and herbs. 

Garden planning is the critical first step in creating a productive backyard garden. In this blog post, I’ll take you through the garden planning process step-by-step. I’ll also go over some essential tips and tricks for planning your first home garden. 

Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or just starting out, I’ll help you create the perfect garden for growing your own fresh, healthy produce.

 So let’s get started and learn how to plan a garden that will thrive and provide you with delicious, nutritious food for years to come!

How to Plan a Garden: Quick Guide

Maybe this is your first garden or maybe you’re progressing from a small kitchen garden to a large production that will grow most of your own produce. Either way, there is a lot to do to plan your garden effectively.

I always say that, while my last frost is in May, my gardening season starts in January because that’s when the planning (usually) begins.

Here are the steps to planning a garden:

    1. Analyze your growing space
    2. Get a garden planner
    3. Choose garden beds
    4. Map it out
    5. Plan what you want to grow
    6. Decide where everything will go
    7. Figure out how you will grow everything
    8. Make a planting schedule
    9. Purchase seeds

Keep reading to learn how exactly to plan your garden for your best growing season yet!

A notebook with the text "garden journal" on it. Sitting next to it is a seed catalog and a basket of seed packets.

When to Plan Your Garden

The best time to plan your garden is as soon as possible! Garden plans are best made well before you start any seeds or prep any garden beds. 

Taking a bit of time to lay out proper plans will prevent overwhelm, overplanting, and will ensure you provide your plants an appropriate growing environment.

Diving in with some seeds and a watering can sounds fun and adventurous, but I’ve found that most first-time gardeners who use this method are unsuccessful and discouraged. Start your garden the right way by following the steps in this post!


Analyze Your Growing Space

If this is your first garden, you need to assess the growing space you have.

How much square footage do you have? How much light does it get? 

Every garden area has a few basic needs:

  • A water source
  • Well-draining soil with lots of organic matter
  • Adequate sunlight

Most vegetables grow best in full sun, which is six or more hours a day during the growing season. If some of your space gets less than that, you may want to consider relocating to a space with full sun. If part of your garden is shadier, make note of that so you can plant shade-tolerant plants in that area.

Other important factors to consider:

  • Do you need a fence to keep pets out?
  • What is your soil like?
  • Does your area get a lot of hail?


Determining Your Hardiness Zone

An important part of analyzing your space is knowing what your hardiness zone is. 

The last frost date refers to the average date on which the temperature drops below freezing for the last time in the spring. This date will help you decide when you can plant frost-sensitive plants outside.

To determine your last frost date, you will want to determine your USDA hardiness zone. Hardiness zones are set based on your average minimum temperature for the year (how cold it gets in the winter).

You can find out which hardiness zone you are in by going to this link and plugging in your zip code.

A notebook open to a page that says "seed starting schedule"

This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through the links, I will earn a small commission that helps me continue to provide gardening content. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Read my full disclosure here.

Get a Garden Planner

You can sit down with a stack of paper and do all of these steps on your own if that’s how you prefer to do it! However, I’ve found the best way to get your thoughts organized and avoid missing any important pieces of information is by using a garden planner to lay out your garden plans. 

You don’t have to spend a lot of money on a garden planner; in fact, you don’t have to spend any money! I have a free garden planner that you can download and print out. It covers everything that I think is important in garden planning. Download it below and if you would like further instructions on how to use it, you can read the full blog post here.

An image of the cover of a garden planner. There is a basket of fruit graphic on it and the text says: garden planning guide, my growing zone, last frost date

Choosing Garden Beds

If you are starting from scratch, you will need to consider what kind of garden beds you want to grow a garden in. There are a lot of different options for garden beds and each choice has pros and cons. The primary options are:

Raised Beds

A raised bed is any sort of garden bed that extends above ground. Raised beds are large containers that hold soil to grow a garden in. 

Some raised beds are just a few inches tall and the roots of your plants grow down into the ground. Others are waist high and have complete separation between the ground and the raised bed.

Raised beds can vary in size and material. Most raised beds are made from wood, metal, or concrete retaining wall bricks. 


The pros of a raised bed garden are:

    • More control over the soil: Because you fill raised beds, you have complete control over the soil. If your native soil is not optimal for growing because it’s clay, rocky, compacted, etc, a raised bed allows you to start off with an ideal soil mix for gardening.
    • Less weeds: Raised beds are filled with fresh soil that does not contain seeds or rhizomes of weeds. While weeds will still exist, raised beds can be a sort of fresh start for a gardener who has intense noxious weeds in their yard.
    • Accessibility: For a gardener who struggles with bending down to work in the beds, a waist-high raised bed is a great accessible option.
    • Visual appeal: Many gardeners install raised beds in their yard because they like how it looks. Raised beds can add an attractive element to your yard and garden design.


The cons of a raised bed garden are:

    • Cost: The materials for raised beds can be quite expensive and a premade raised bed costs even more. 
    • Time: Depending on the design of your raised beds, building or assembling them may take considerable time.
    • Lifespan: Wooden raised beds will need replacing every ~10 years. You can use a nontoxic stain to extend the life of the wood, but eventually it will rot and the beds will need to be replaced.


In-Ground Garden

An in-ground garden is exactly what it sounds like: growing plants in the ground. Though it seems simple, it isn’t as straightforward as it seems. 

The native soil in many areas is not ideal for growing a vegetable garden, so it has to be amended with compost, worm castings, and other amendments. Existing plants also need to be removed from the space.

 Many gardeners will till their soil the first year to loosen it up and incorporate amendments. While I don’t recommend routine tilling, it is a helpful practice for starting a new garden bed.

Other gardeners utilize the lasagna or hugelkultur methods of smothering weeds and adding compost on top of the existing soil.

When you design in-ground beds, be sure to incorporate stepping stones or pathways so you are not stepping in the garden when harvesting or working in it. Pathways can be made of wood chips, breeze, rocks, ground cover, and more.

Pros of an in-ground garden:

    • Inexpensive: Compared to the other garden options, growing in the ground is certainly the most affordable. While you may need to spend some money on compost, no other materials are needed. 
    • Build soil health: There is a satisfaction that comes to building soil health in a space. Each year you see more life in the soil and your plants grow better than the previous year. In-ground beds draw carbon out of the atmosphere and sequester it in the soil. This is huge in the fight against climate change. You can read more about building soil health in my article about regenerative gardening.

Cons of an in-ground garden:

    • May require soil testing: To ensure you have the best garden soil possible, it is recommended to get a soil test so you can know the soil type and any deficiencies it may have. Doing this allows you to amend the soil properly. I have had luck not getting a soil test and simply adding compost and mycorrhizae to my native soil.For best results, however, definitely get a soil test through your county extension office.

Container Garden

A container garden is a garden made up of potted plants. Most garden plants can grow well in pots as long as the pots are adequately sized.


Container gardens are ideal for gardeners who are renting their home, want a quick and temporary set-up, or have a very small garden space. I share more about container gardening and how to garden in a small space in my blog post about growing with limited space


The pros of a container garden are:

    • Minimal set-up: Filling the pots with soil is much quicker than building a raised bed or creating an in-ground bed.
    • Transportable: Container gardens can be moved as needed. This makes them a great option for anyone who may be moving mid-season or a gardener who isn’t yet sure where they want to create a permanent garden.
    • No permanent changes: If you live in a rental property and are not allowed to make changes to the yard, or you simply don’t want to invest the time and money, container gardens are the perfect solution.
    • No “ground” needed: Container gardens are ideal for those who want to garden but only have an apartment balcony. You don’t need any land to grow a container garden!

The cons of container gardens are:

    • Cost: Pots and potting soil are not necessarily inexpensive. The soil needs to be changed every year and the costs can add up.
    • No soil health: In containers, the soil is not alive as it is in the ground. Fertilizer is needed, plants are not as resilient, and each year you have to start from scratch. This is not a reason not to grow in pots, but a consideration for doing it long term.


A hand holding a garden journal up. The page is a taped-indrawing titled "tomato map" Underneath the title is a hand-drawn map of a garden with different tomato varieties labeled.

Map it Out

Make a map of your garden space so you can easily plan where each plant should go. You can make it perfectly mapped and to scale on graph paper or just a rough sketch depending on what works best for you. Having a record of your vegetable garden layout will also help you rotate your crops next year!

Plan What You Want to Grow

Now that you know how much space you have available, you can decide what to plant and how many of each plant you’ll have. 

Create a list of plants that you’d like to grow. Include everything; you can reduce the list as needed in the next step. 

If you aren’t sure where to begin, I would encourage you to choose vegetables that you already enjoy eating. It is the most rewarding to grow vegetables that you actually like and you are less likely to waste your harvests. If you find yourself purchasing a lot of tomatoes and cucumbers, focus most of your energy on growing those.

If you want to take the safe route, I have a list of the easiest vegetables to grow for beginning gardeners. All of those plants are the most likely to give you a big, successful harvest in your first year!

Don’t forget to include herbs and flowers you’d like to grow alongside your vegetables.

A Note on Big Gardens

If you have a large garden, I would encourage you to fill parts of it with low-maintenance, long-season plants so your garden isn’t unmanageable. 

Low-maintenance plants take a long time to grow, don’t require consistent harvesting, and don’t necessarily need pruning or other regular upkeep.

The best low-maintenance plants to fill a space are:

A basil plant growing in a raised garden bed

Decide Where Everything Will Go

Now you can fill in the map you made earlier with specific plant locations. Here are a few considerations as you plan that:

Rotate your crops: If this isn’t your first garden, look back on your garden journal to remember where everything was planted last year. Try not to grow any plant family in the same place twice, taking special care to rotate nightshades (tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, and eggplant). Crop rotation minimizes the spread of fungus and disease.

Consider companion planting: You may want to try companion planting, which is pairing vegetables and herbs that help each other grow. I do not personally do this, but I know lots of gardeners who do. You can learn more about that here.

Use proper spacing: Every plant has a recommended amount of space that it needs to grow well. When the plants are small, the spacing seems extreme. They will fill in, though. Overcrowded plants are susceptible to disease and pests, so don’t ignore spacing suggestions.

Consider height and light: As you plan the layout of your garden, make sure that you are placing tall plants, such as corn, pole beans, and tomatoes, on the north side of each bed. You don’t want your tall plants to shade out the shorter plants. There are exceptions to this, however. Strategically placing cool-weather plants like lettuce and radishes in the partial shade of taller plants can help them grow throughout the summer months when it would normally be too hot.

Figure Out How You Will Grow Everything

Now it’s time to make a plan for how you’ll get these plants. This means deciding what you’ll start indoors, what you’ll direct sow, and which plants you’ll purchase as seedlings (young plants.)

There are two different ways you can start plants from seed:

  • Direct sow: This means planting the seeds directly into the ground in the spot that you want the plant.
  • Start them indoors: This means planting the seeds into seed starting trays or soil blocks then transplanting the seedlings into the garden. This method is often done to give plants a head start growing before the outside temperatures are warm enough for them. An alternative to starting the seeds indoors is purchasing seedlings from a nursery.

Gather the list of what you want to plant and the quantities. Next to each one, write down if it’s recommended that you start it indoors or direct sow.

How to Decide Which Method to Use

 Plants with roots that are sensitive to disturbance are usually best started directly in the ground. 

Plants that need a long time to grow and/or are sensitive to frost are best started indoors so they have a head start when your last frost date approaches.

Some seed packets will tell you which method is recommended for that type of seed. This information can also be found in my free vegetable quick guide.



A screenshot of the garden veggie quick guide.

Of the plants that need to be started indoors, you can decide if you will be growing them yourself or buying starts from a nursery. For new gardeners, seedlings from a nursery may be the least overwhelming option.

If there are specific and unique varieties you want to grow, consider starting them from seed. Most nurseries have a relatively small selection of each type of plant. 

When starting your own seeds, make sure that you have enough indoor space and grow lights needed for the number of plants you want to start. The plants will get bigger and most will need to be transplanted into ~3-inch pots before it’s time to take them out, so allow room for that.

Make a Planting Schedule

This step can get a little tricky, but your free garden planner will help a lot!

To make a planting schedule, write down when each plant needs to be started indoors and transplanted, or when it needs to be sowed outside. 

Group them by planting dates and schedule it out so you know what to plant and when. If it is a plant that needs successive sowing, factor that into the schedule as well.

A hand holding a seed packet. The seed packet has lots of growing information on it like how deep to plant the seeds, time to maturity, etc.

Purchase Seeds

This is possibly the most fun part! Once you have a good plan and you know what you’ll be planting from seed, it’s time to purchase your seeds. 

I recommend doing this as early as possible; even as early as October is a good idea. A lot of seed companies run out of certain seeds and are unable to obtain more until the next growing season, so don’t delay purchasing them. 

You can sign up to receive a seed catalog from your favorite seed companies each year. Once you sign up, you will receive it automatically in the fall or winter and you can start dreaming and planning!

Where to Buy Seeds for Gardening

I always encourage you to check out your locally-owned garden stores and nurseries first! A lot of them will even carry seeds from some fantastic small businesses. If you want to buy online or you can’t find the varieties you want, these are my favorite seed companies:


Botanical Interests

This is my favorite company because its seed packets contain a wealth of knowledge. With Botanical Interest seeds, you’ll rarely have to do your own research to get them planted. 

Their seed packets fill you in on when to plant, where to plant, and how to plant your seeds. They also have good specifications on how large a plant will get and information on growing, harvesting, and enjoying your crops. 

Their seed packets are also incredibly beautiful! Botanical Interests are fully open-pollinated and have some organic options. They could improve on their organic offerings and their variety is on the smaller side.


Johnny’s Seeds

Johnny’s seeds are 100% organic and they have a huge selection of lots of different varieties.  I get all of my cover crops for my garden here as well as many unique varieties I couldn’t get elsewhere. Their seed packets have a moderate amount of information and they are difficult to tell what the seeds are at first glance. Johnny’s sells out of a lot of their popular varieties, so get yours quickly.


Baker Creek Seeds 

Baker Creek is known for their large selection of rare seeds. They have an amazing amount of vegetables, flowers, and even some fruit bushes. Their seed packets are lacking in information but have photos that make them easily identifiable. Their website also offers free shipping, which is hard to beat!

A seed catalog laying open on a table with seeds around it.


A Garden Schedule

You may want a big-picture idea of the planning and planting process for a garden. I’ve got you covered.

The date ranges are intentionally left vague because it depends on your hardiness zone. The higher your zone, the earlier your gardening season begins. I personally work backward from my last frost date to plan everything.

Fall to mid winter

Take inventory of the seeds you have and start purchasing any that are needed for next year.

Mid to late winter

Start the garden planning process. Purchase more seeds as needed.

Late winter to early spring (10-12 weeks before last frost)

This is typically the time most gardeners start their indoor seeds

Early to mid spring (6 weeks before last frost)

Direct sow and transplant cool-season crops

Late spring (1-2 weeks after last frost)

Transplant and direct sow warm-season crops

Throughout the summer

Continue successive sowings when applicable.

More Articles to Get You Growing

If you are new to this whole gardening thing, definitely check out some of these other articles before you get started!

15 Easy-to-Grow Flowers for Beginners

9 Tips for New Gardeners

How to Compost for Your Garden

How to Keep a Garden Journal

A pinterest image. The photo is of seed packets and a garden journal. The text reads "how to plan a vegetable garden"

53 Best Inspirational Garden Quotes

53 Best Inspirational Garden Quotes

Whether you’re looking for a meaningful yet quick Instagram caption or you’re just craving some inspiration, these curated quotes will be just what you need.

The garden has been a source of solace, peace, and inspiration for centuries. All kinds of famous writers, poets, and artists draw on their flower and vegetable gardens to find beauty and creativity.

It’s no wonder there are so many fantastic quotes that will uplift you, encourage you, or cause you to think! 

Garden Quotes for Instagram

These quotes are especially helpful when you’re posting a garden photo or video for an Instagram post. When you’re posting on social media, creativity doesn’t always come easily! I know firsthand how frustrating it can be to come up with something interesting, educational, witty, or thoughtful to say in your Instagram captions.

Instead of sitting in writer’s block for hours, choose one of these lovely garden quotes and use that as your caption. Who knows, you may even find inspiration to write your own once you’ve scrolled through these famous words. 

If you find one you love, don’t forget to pin it on Pinterest so you have it when you need it! 

If you want inspiration in your pocket to remember, download some of these quotes as free phone wallpapers.

A photo of chives growing in a garden with the text "In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.<br />
Margaret Atwood"

In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.– Margaret Atwood


“A garden is a grand teacher. It teaches patience and careful watchfulness; it teaches industry and thrift; above all it teaches entire trust.” – Gertrude Jekyll

“But each spring… a gardening instinct, sure as the sap rising in the trees, stirs within us. We look about and decide to tame another little bit of ground.” – Lewis Gantt

A person who undertakes to grow a garden at home, by practices that will preserve rather than exploit the economy of the soil, has his mind precisely against what is wrong with us.– Wendell Berry

“In summer there were white and damask roses, and the smell of thyme and musk. In Spring there were green gooseberries and throstles [thrush], and the flowers they call ceninen [daffodils]. And leeks and cabbages also grew in that garden; and between long straight alleys, and apple-trained espaliers, there were beds of strawberries, and mint, and sage.” – Beatrix Potter

A photo of a blade of grass with a water droplet on it. The text reads "“When the world wearies and society fails to satisfy, there is always the garden.” – Minnie Aumonier"

“To forget how to dig the earth and tend the soil is to forget ourselves.” – Mahatma Gandhi

“When the world wearies and society fails to satisfy, there is always the garden.” – Minnie Aumonier

“A garden is evidence of faith. It links us with all the misty figures of the past who also planted and were nourished by the fruits of their planting.” – Gladys Taber

“I grow plants for many reasons: to please my eye or to please my soul, to challenge the elements of to challenge my patience, for novelty or for nostalgia, but mostly for the joy in seeing them grow.” – David Hobson

A photo of basil plants growing in a garden with text that reads "The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature.<br />
– Alfred Austin"


“Gardening is learning, learning, learning. That’s the fun of them. You’re always learning.” – Helen Mirren

“The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature.” – Alfred Austin

“Odd as I am sure it will appear to some, I can think of no better form of personal involvement in the cure of the environment than that of gardening. A person who is growing a garden, if he is growing it organically, is improving a piece of the world. He is producing something to eat, which makes him somewhat independent of the grocery business, but is also enlarging, for himself, the meaning of food and the pleasure of eating.” – Wendell Berry

“There is nothing pleasanter than spading when the ground is soft and damp.” – John Steinbeck

A photo of a pink crimson clover flower with a honeybee on it. Text reads "how lovely the silence of growing things"

“The love of gardening is a seed once sown that never dies.” – Gertrude Jekyll

“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.” – Audrey Hepburn

“No occupation is so delightful to me as the culture of the earth, and no culture comparable to that of the garden.” – Thomas Jefferson

“Gardens and children need the same things- patience, love and someone who will never give up on them.” – Nicolette Sowder

“How lovely the silence of growing things.” – Unknown

“My passion for gardening may strike some as selfish, or merely an act of resignation in the face of overwhelming problems that beset the world. It is neither. I have found that each garden is just what Voltaire proposed in Candide: a microcosm of a just and beautiful society.” –Andrew Weil

A photo of pumpkins and winter squash with the text "A garden is evidence of faith. It links us with all the misty figures of the past who also planted and were nourished by the fruits of their planting.<br />
Gladys Taber"

“Gardening is the work of a lifetime: You never finish.” – Oscar De La Renta

“Gardening adds years to your life and life to your years.” – Unknown

“If you grow a garden you are going to shed some sweat, and you are going to spend some time bent over; you will experience some aches and pains. But it is in the willingness to accept this discomfort that we strike the most telling blow against the power plants and what they represent.” – Wendell Berry

“The greatest gift of a garden is the restoration of the five senses.” – Hanna Rion

“There are no gardening mistakes, only experiments.” – Janet Kilburn Phillips

A photo of a hand holding a bowl of yellow and red tomatoes. The text reads "Gardening is cheaper than therapy – and you get tomatoes."<br />

“Where flowers bloom, so does hope.” – Lady Bird Johnson

“Gardening is cheaper than therapy – and you get tomatoes.” – Unknown

“We learn from our gardens to deal with the most urgent question of the time: How much is enough?”   

– Wendell Berry

“All the flowers of tomorrow are in the seeds of today.” – Indian proverb

“One of the most important resources that a garden makes available for use, is the gardener’s own body. A garden gives the body the dignity of working in its own support. It is a way of rejoining the human race.”

– Wendell Berry

a photo of grass and leaves with the text “Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help. Gardening is an instrument of grace.” – May Sarton

“An hour’s hard digging is a good way of getting one’s mind back in the right perspective.” – Richard Briers

“The grower of trees, the gardener, the man born to farming, whose hands reach into the ground and sprout, to him the soil is a divine drug. He enters into death yearly, and comes back rejoicing. He has seen the light lie down in the dung heap, and rise again in the corn.” – Wendell Berry

“There is a kind of immortality in every garden.” – Gladys Taber

“On Saturday afternoons when all the things are done in the house and there’s no real work to be done, I play Bach and Chopin and turn it up real loudly and get a good bottle of chardonnay and sit out on my deck and look out at the garden.” –Maya Angelou

A photo of sage leaves with the text "The grower of trees, the gardener, the man born to farming, whose hands reach into the ground and sprout, to him the soil is a divine drug. He enters into death yearly, and comes back rejoicing. He has seen the light lie down in the dung heap, and rise again in the corn. Wendell Berry"

“Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help. Gardening is an instrument of grace.” – May Sarton

“The pleasure of eating should be an extensive pleasure, not that of the mere gourmet. People who know the garden in which their vegetables have grown and know that the garden is healthy will remember the beauty of the growing plants, perhaps in the dewy first light of morning when gardens are at their best. Such a memory involves itself with the food and is one of the pleasures of eating.” – Wendell Berry

“As I leave the garden, I take with me a renewed view and a quiet soul.” – Jessica Coupe

“If I’m in the country, my big idea is to do nothing. It means talking, it means cooking with the leftovers in the fridge – l’art d’accommoder les restes – it means gardening.” –Christian Louboutin

“Show me your garden and I shall tell you what you are. – Alfred Austin

A photo of a pink and white bean flower with the text "“Flowers always make people better, happier, and more helpful; they are sunshine, food and medicine for the soul.” – Luther Burbank</p>
<p>“A person who undertakes to grow a garden at home, by practices that will preserve rather than exploit the economy of the soil, has his mind precisely against what is wrong with us... What I am saying is that if we apply our minds directly and competently to the needs of the earth, then we will have begun to make fundamental and necessary changes in our minds. We will begin to understand and to mistrust and to change our wasteful economy, which markets not just the produce of earth, but also the earth's ability to produce.”<br />
– Wendell Berry</p>
<p>“She came to her garden and whispered to the plants until her smile returned and her mind was calm.” – Unknown</p>
<p>“My wish is to stay always like this: living quietly in a corning of nature.” – Claude Monet</p>
<p>“I have found, through years of practice, that people garden in order to make something grow; to interact with nature; to share, to find sanctuary, to heal, to honor the earth, to leave a mark. Through gardening, we feel whole as we make our personal work of art upon our land.”<br />
– Julie Moir Messervy</p>
<p>“If you’ve never experienced the joy of accomplishing more than you can imagine, plant a garden.” – Robert Brault"

“Flowers always make people better, happier, and more helpful; they are sunshine, food and medicine for the soul.” – Luther Burbank

“A person who undertakes to grow a garden at home, by practices that will preserve rather than exploit the economy of the soil, has his mind precisely against what is wrong with us… What I am saying is that if we apply our minds directly and competently to the needs of the earth, then we will have begun to make fundamental and necessary changes in our minds. We will begin to understand and to mistrust and to change our wasteful economy, which markets not just the produce of earth, but also the earth’s ability to produce.” – Wendell Berry

“She came to her garden and whispered to the plants until her smile returned and her mind was calm.”

– Unknown

“My wish is to stay always like this: living quietly in a corning of nature.” – Claude Monet

“I have found, through years of practice, that people garden in order to make something grow; to interact with nature; to share, to find sanctuary, to heal, to honor the earth, to leave a mark. Through gardening, we feel whole as we make our personal work of art upon our land.” – Julie Moir Messervy

“If you’ve never experienced the joy of accomplishing more than you can imagine, plant a garden.” – Robert Brault

A photo of a basket of vegetables with the text "A person who undertakes to grow a garden at home, by practices that will preserve rather than exploit the economy of the soil, has his mind precisely against what is wrong with us.<br />
Wendell Berry"

“I always see gardening as an escape, as peace really. If you are angry or troubled, nothing provides the same solace as nurturing the soil.” – Monty Don

“When in the fresh morning I go into my garden before anyone else is awake, I go for the time being into perfect happiness.” – Unknown

“And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.”

– Khalil Gibran

“Help us to be ever faithful gardeners of the spirit, who know that without darkness nothing comes to birth, and without light nothing flowers. ” – May Sarton

“The lesson I have thoroughly learnt, and wish to pass on to others, is to know the enduring happiness that the love of a garden gives.” – Gertrude Jekyll

“It is a good idea to be alone in a garden at dawn or dark so that all its shy presences may haunt you and possess you in a reverie of suspended thought.” – James Douglas

A plume of decorative grass with the text "When in the fresh morning I go into my garden before anyone else is awake, I go for the time being into perfect happiness."

“We must cultivate our own garden. When man was put in the garden of Eden he was put there so that he should work, which proves that man was not born to rest.” – Voltaire

“I think this is what hooks one to gardening: it is the closest one can come to being present at creation.”

– Phyllis Theroux

“My extravagance is my garden – it’s the first thing I look at every morning when I wake up. It gives me so much pleasure.” – Ina Garten

There you have it: the all-time best inspirational garden quotes! I hope they ignite your creativity, cure your writer’s block in your Instagram posts, and encourage you to get outside in your own garden today. 

A pink zinnia with the text "And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.<br />
Khalil Gibran"

Free Printable Garden Planner for Your Best Garden Yet

Free Printable Garden Planner for Your Best Garden Yet

Download a free printable garden planner to save loads of time and energy and have your best garden ever!

If you’re like me, you may find planning out your garden a daunting task. There is a lot of information to track as you plan out what you’ll grow, how you’ll grow it, and when it needs to be  planted. 

I created this garden planner to make it simple and easy!

This beautiful 19-page garden planner will guide you through every step of planning a garden. It includes everything from tracking what you’re going to plant to scheduling out your seed starting to creating a shopping list for the season. 

Please note: this printable garden planner is for personal use and single classroom use only.

An image of the cover of a garden planner. There is a basket of fruit graphic on it and the text says: garden planning guide, my growing zone, last frost date

How to Plan Your Garden Using This Planner

Whether you’re a beginner gardener or you’ve been at it a while, planning is a critical step to start your garden season right. 

The first time I planned my garden, I remember being intensely overwhelmed. There are a lot of moving parts and little details to keep track of and getting the timing right is particularly daunting. 

Using a garden planner is a great way to keep track of things and make sure you have the best results for an enjoyable garden experience! 

Garden planners lay out all of the information you need to figure out before heading into your garden season. They act as a fill-in-the-blank guide to take some of the brainwork off of you.  

I use the planner for my own garden and it helps so much to collect my thoughts and keep all of the seed starting and transplanting straight.

This free tool guides you through each step while still leaving it open-ended enough to be suitable for every person’s situation!

The steps that this free printable planner guides you through are:

      • Setting goals for your garden
      • Planning what you will grow
      • Determining which plants will be sown directly, which will be started indoors, and which will be purchased through a nursery
      • Creating a schedule for seeding and transplanting
      • Laying out a week-by-week to-do list
      • Mapping out your garden
      • Making a seed inventory and shopping list
An image of basil growing in a garden. The text reads "free garden planner" and there are images of pages from the garden planner on top.

Printing Your Garden Planner

Your free garden planner comes in a pdf file for you to print out and use as you plan out your garden.

I recommend getting your planner bound at a print shop or putting it in a 3-ring binder. You can either hole-punch the pages or put them in heavy-duty page protectors. You will be referring to your garden planner a lot throughout the spring and summer, so you want the pages to be easily accessible.

One way to have your garden planner handy is to put it into a garden binder with your garden journal pages, catalogs, and any other paper resources you have for gardening. This way you have everything you need to keep track of your garden all in one place!

If you need more copies of a single page or you don’t find one of the planner pages useful, you can customize it by printing exactly what you want. This garden planner is meant to be a useful tool for you, so make it your own. 

Determine Your Hardiness Zone

The first step in planning any garden is knowing when your average last frost date is. The last frost date refers to the average date on which the temperature drops below freezing for the last time in the spring. 

One or two weeks after the last frost date (granted that there haven’t been unexpected cold snaps), you can plant frost-sensitive plants with reasonable certainty that they will not be damaged by cold temperatures.

To determine your last frost date, you will want to determine your USDA hardiness zone. Hardiness zones are set based on your average minimum temperature for the year (how cold it gets in the winter).

You can find out which hardiness zone you are in by going to this link and plugging in your zip code.

Set Goals For Your Garden

Goal setting is important in many aspects of life and the garden is no exception. Setting goals before the season begins gives you direction and achieving goals leads to a greater sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. 

The goal-setting planner page will walk you through a few different goals that I like to set each year in terms of my garden. Your goals can be as big or as small as you’d like; all reasonable goals are beneficial!

I have a whole blog post about goal setting for your garden if you’d like to learn more. You can find that post here.

    Decide What You Will Grow

    Now that the groundwork is laid, it’s time to decide what you will grow. Your planner offers four pages for these lists: one for vegetables, one for herbs, one for flowers, and one for perennials.

    Because perennials come back year after year, I like to take note of any new perennials I’ll be adding to my garden. Fruit bushes, trees, shrubs, flowers, and more that will be permanent installments in my yard need to be noted so I know (1) that I need to buy or grow them and (2) that I need to plan out where they’ll go, when they’ll be planted, etc. 

    In this section, write down the quantities of each plant you want to grow. You need to know how many plants to grow or purchase, so it’s important to know how many of each you’d like to grow. 

    Determine How You Will Grow Each Plant

    There are three ways to grow garden plants:

        1. Starting seeds indoors: This is a practice gardeners will do to give their plants a head start by growing them indoors before the outside temperatures are warm enough for them. By the time it is warm enough, your plants have already been growing for several weeks and can be transplanted as seedlings.
        2. Direct sow: This means planting your seeds directly into the ground, raised bed, or pot in which they will be growing all season long. 
        3. Buying seedlings: This is a great alternative to starting your own seeds indoors. It is more costly, but you get the benefits of indoor seed starting without spending the time and energy growing them yourself.

    Most gardeners utilize a combination of all three of these methods.  

    Some types of garden plants need to be started indoors or bought as seedlings because they are frost-sensitive and need a long growing season. Tomatoes, for instance, must be started indoors in my growing zone. If I direct sowed them, I would not likely see any tomatoes because the time between last spring frost and first fall frost is shorter than the tomatoes need to really produce. 

    Other plants grow best when they are direct-sown because their roots are sensitive to transplanting.

    Check your seed packets before determining which plants you will start indoors and which you will direct sow. Most seed packets will tell you which method is best for those particular seeds. 

    Fill in Your Garden Schedule

    For gardeners, spring is a crazy time of year. 

    If you are both direct sowing seeds and planting seedlings, there is a lot to keep track of: when to start seeds indoors, when to plant those seedlings, when to direct sow, and when to do a succession planting.

    There are several pages in the planner that will help you to lay out your planting schedule and avoid missing anything. These pages help you to:

        • Track the planting dates of indoor-sown seeds
        • Track the planting dates of direct-sown seeds
        • Track the planting dates of seedlings being planted in the garden
        • Make a schedule of weekly garden tasks
        • Plan succession sowing for plants, when applicable

    When you are finished, you will have a detailed plan and you’ll know exactly what needs to be done each week!


    Map Out Your Garden

    Now that you know what you want to grow and the quantities, it’s time to figure out where everything will go in your garden beds. Use the garden map page in your planner to sketch out your garden layout and draw in where each plant will be growing. 

    Planning the layout in advance prevents overwhelm during planting, ensures you don’t grow or buy too many plants for your space, and allows you to be thoughtful about companion planting, crop rotation, and spacing.

    Create a Seed Inventory

    One of the final steps is to record all of the seeds you have on hand and their rough quantities to make shopping easier. I have had many instances where I had to go digging through my seed box to decide if I needed to purchase something. The seed inventory gets everything down in one place for your convenience. 

    Having a working seed inventory is also a good way to prevent overbuying seeds and save you time in the garden planning process. 

    This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through the links, I will earn a small commission that helps me continue to provide gardening content. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Read my full disclosure here.


    Buy Seeds

    One of your planner pages will include a convenient “shopping list” to fill out as you notice seeds you are lacking during the inventory audit. This list can also include other gardening essentials your need such as new tools, tomato cages, twine, bagged compost, gardening books, mulch, and more. 

    Buying seeds early is definitely encouraged as many garden seed companies sell out in the spring. Because seeds are not quick to produce, you may not be able to purchase exactly what you want until the next fall.

    If you sign up online, most seed companies will mail you their seed catalogs free of charge early in the season. It’s exciting to pore over the catalogs as you plan what you want to grow and the catalogs serve as a reminder to stock up. Some of my favorite seed companies are:

    Take Notes

    Finally, you’ll find a page in your planner titled “notes.” This page is for anything you need to remember! You can write down a to-do list, tidbits you want to remember, or whatever you think you need to have on paper. 

    Start Planting!

    Now that you have your garden all planned out, you can get started planting. I hope this simple garden planner is a helpful planning tool for you to get started growing your own food and have your most successful harvest yet!