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Planning a vegetable garden? Take into account what your family likes to eat – read on for our best gardening tips.
Winter and early Spring is the perfect time of year to finalize plans for the gardens. Planning a vegetable garden is an important part of being able to ensure having enough food in the cold room for the winter.
This planning is just one of the things I love about Winter. There’s very little work to be done outside and no one minds if we get up late and linger over coffee.
Garden catalogs have started to arrive although I get a lot less than I used to. That’s because I focus on growing heirloom varieties and so I can save my own seeds.
Needless to say, the seed businesses using GMO seeds don’t get much business from my house. Food gardening has gotten a lot cheaper for me, since I can gather the seeds myself.
I don’t have to pay those shipping costs, which always add up. When I do make a mail order, I try to find friends who want seeds as well so we can go in on an order together and save some money.
Planning A Vegetable Garden
Perhaps the easiest way for me to show you how to plan your food garden is to show you what I am doing for my own vegetable and berry gardens.
Our food Production This Year:
For starters, one change is going to be that I plant a SMALLER garden than we usually do. I have two reasons for making it smaller: We have a lot more Garlic planted.
This means I am going to have less time to spend on our own food garden. We still have lots of canned food in our Cold Room, from previous years. This is a huge bonus.
I can spend the time on other things and we still won’t have to spend a lot of money at the grocery store!
My Vegetable Garden Plan:
Grow mostly root crops (potatoes, beets, carrots) because they are easy for us to store in our cold room. We’ll still be eating them the following March.
They are easy to grow and don’t require a lot of maintenance during the busy Spring and Summer. Here’s how to grow and store potatoes.
Plant lots of shell peas – there’s nothing like eating garden fresh (yes frozen) peas in January. When I’m planning a vegetable garden, I always make sure to have lots of room for them.
We like to grow them along our fences so they will climb them. Here’s how to grow peas in the garden!
I know a lot of people prefer snap peas, the ones where you eat the whole thing, pod and all. I confess although I love to eat these fresh, I am not such a fan of eating them after being stored in the freezer.
I’m picky when it comes to eating veggies – I love all kinds, but I love the flavor of them fresh or al dente for sure. I so dislike eating soggy mushy veggies.
It is so important to grow what you like eat! Seriously think about that when you are planning a vegetable garden.
Don’t bother wasting space for planting food in your veggie garden you and your family don’t really enjoy eating. It’s a waste of space that could be filled with food you love to eat.
If your family loves carrots, plant a couple wide rows and you will easily have enough to last through the winter.
I love shell peas, but I know they take a lot of time to shell them once you get them picked. Big deal…I’ll easily handle sitting on my porch for a couple of hours with a big bowl full.
Sounds like a self imposed late afternoon rest to me. Just don’t come along and grab a handful after I’ve picked them, cuz I tend to get pissy about that. Shell ’em yourself, I always say.
I blanch and freeze them and then we enjoy them all winter long.
As for the leafy greens, I’ll just be planting one half row of lettuce (which will give us lots) and half a row each of swiss chard and spinach.
I like to plant these just as soon as the soil can be worked, so that we get an early crop. Leafy greens are cool-season crops, so we can plant those in mid-April, if we are lucky enough with the snow melting.
We’ll let some grow to full size but we will be trimming lots of leaves for salad greens. Since lettuce, spinach, kale and other leafy greens are more shade tolerant than other veggies, they can be planted on the north side of the garden, out of full sun.
I’ll plant at least one wide row of green beans. We need to keep the Remay cloth handy for covering on cool nights here, as beans don’t like how low the temperature can dip.
We want to can up lots of pint jars full of green beans as we are starting to run low of those in our cold room. Here’s how to pressure can green beans.
Broccoli and Cauliflower
And I will plant a few broccoli and a few cauliflower, maybe six of each. Maybe a half row of turnips, too.
One row of cabbage so I can make up a couple of batches of sauerkraut come the fall. We grow big cabbages here in the Cariboo!
Sauerkraut is so easy to make. Here’s how to make Sauerkraut.
Corn, Squash and Zucchini
We will probably grow some corn – maybe 3 dozen plants or so. Corn does best planted in a block, as this helps with pollination. Growing corn here is always risky, because it really is a warm season crop.
Where we live, there is almost always a threat of frost for 10 months of the year, so we only grow it if we can afford the room it takes. It’s disappointing to watch the corn grow and then see it killed by a surprise frost!
Although we can (and do) grow Zucchini in our garden bed, we just don’t risk growing winter squash. And, because of the sprawling vines, it takes up too much room in the greenhouse. So for us, we buy winter squash.
Growing Vegetables In the Greenhouse
In the greenhouse, I’ll have several varieties of peppers, both hot and sweet. Also some cherry tomatoes; all heirloom varieties. I haven’t checked on how much tomato sauce I still have on hand, so I’ll need to do that today.
If I need to can up more, we’ll take a road trip closer to the coast where we can pick all day for very little money.
We’ll bring a couple hundred pounds home and get the stock pot going to make tomato sauce and pizza sauce.
It’s too cold at nights here to plant tomatoes – they have to be grown in greenhouses and mine is just not big enough for the quantity we use.
With food prices rising everywhere, I encourage you to plant your own garden this year. Just start small so you don’t get overwhelmed.
When you are planning a vegetable garden, think about what your family likes to eat and plant that! Root crops are easy to grow, easy to store and get expensive to buy in the winter. Wouldn’t it be great if you had your own supply?
Gardening Posts You Want to Read!
Worried about deer? Here’s our offbeat and cheap way to keep deer out of our garden.
Take a look at our printable Vegetable Garden Planner! It has everything you need for success.
Here are our top picks for growing herbs – whether you grow them outdoors in your garden bed or indoors!
For more info about garden layout, container gardening, square foot gardening, mulching methods, trellis gardening, raised bed gardening, be sure to read more about How to Grow Enough Food for a Year – it’s all covered (and lots more!) in there.
Start planning a vegetable garden now and you’ll be ready for planting!
Want to find out which are The 5 Easiest Vegetables to Grow?
Find it here – available only to subscribers!
Published Oct, 2019; updated May, 2022