Food Gardening Network

Growing Good Food at Home

Planning Your Perfect Food Garden

Are you planning the perfect food garden, but aren't quite sure where to start? It all begins with the right ideas.

A lot goes into planning your perfect food garden. Lucky for us, nature is pretty darn good at figuring things out, so as long as our plants get the right combinations of water, sunlight, and temperature, we’re off to a good start. 

As simple as that is, it’s not always without challenges. Some plants like more or less water or sunlight. Some, like Kale, can thrive in cooler temperatures that your tomatoes don’t want anything to do with. Vegetables like pole beans need support, while mint will take over the entire garden if you leave it alone long enough. 

With the proper planning, however, you can get around most of these problems before that first seed ever germinates. That’s one of the reasons we put together this special issue of Food Gardening Magazine. 

Throughout a dozen feature articles and hundreds of tips, this issue provides you with expert information to help you plan your perfect food garden. We’ll explore everything from how to save the seeds of your favorite heirloom vegetables to planning your planting based on your favorite dinner menus or which veggies work best for pickling and canning. 

Other articles offer in-depth looks at some of the differences between growing directly in the ground vs. planting in raised beds. We’ll get into the weeds (ha!) on weed control planning, and there are three featured articles on different types of irrigation, including step-by-step guidance for creating your own stress-free watering system.

In other words, if you’re planning a garden, you don’t want to miss this edition of Food Gardening Magazine. Here’s a closer look at just some of what’s blooming.

  • How to Plant a Food Garden According to your PalateIf you’re not growing the types of veggies you like to eat, what’s the point? Your compost and your neighbors can only take so much zucchini! With that in mind, this article serves up five favorite dishes, along with a list of the vegetables and herbs you’ll need to make them. Homefries, anyone?
  • Planning a Garden with the Best Vegetables for Pickling and Preservation: Cucumbers don’t have the copyright on pickles and food preservation. Don’t get me wrong; I love pickles. But did you know you can store onions and garlic for up to a year? Store them correctly, and your carrots could last for up to 9 months. Apple preserves are good for about 5 months, and if you have an abundance of tomatoes, canning them will give you over a year to enjoy their sweet tomatoey goodness. 
  • How to Get Seeds from Your Vegetables to Save for Next Year: Speaking of tomatoes, you don’t need to go searching for your favorite heirloom seedlings every year. Seed-saving can not only preserve the variety you are growing, especially if it’s an heirloom variety, but it also helps vegetables adapt to local conditions, potentially increasing yields. 

There’s more to a garden than what we grow, though. Garden design can play a significant role in how well our gardens produce and how much we enjoy them. Here is a sampling of some of the articles you’ll find around garden design. 

  • 10 Enclosed Vegetable Garden Ideas for Every Budget: Enclosed vegetable gardens offer protection from pests, pets, and small children who don’t always know the meaning of “gentle” and “stop pulling up the seedlings, I just planted those!” Another reason to go the enclosed route is to add protection from the elements. Some types of enclosures will provide shade and wind protection for delicate plants as well as provide warmth and insulation during colder seasons. An enclosed vegetable garden can take on different shapes and styles. The 10 ideas here run from DIY projects with recycled materials to tiny glass domes for seedlings to grandiose greenhouses and a stand-alone garden oasis.
  • Self-Watering Garden Bed Ideas to Harvest More and Water Less: Discover three self-watering options for your raised bed garden, from DIY to ones you can buy. The easiest option is to buy a self-watering planter, but don’t be afraid to take on the challenge yourself. There are tons of blueprints, plans, and tutorials on building your own self-watering system, but the basics are all pretty much the same. The best part is, it’s not nearly as complicated as some sites would have you believe. This article gives you a quick-start guide to get things going. 

These ideas all work in both raised bed and in-ground gardens, but you’ll still need to decide which one is right for you. Planning Your Perfect Garden gives you the information you need to make the choice that suits your gardening style.

  • The Biggest Differences Between Planting in Raised Beds vs. In-Ground: Our Senior Editor, Amanda MacArthur, has tried them both and has some insightful thoughts on both approaches. Gardening is still gardening, but there are some differences you’ll need to account for. Don’t worry too much, though. In Amanda’s words, “you’ll need to adjust a few things, and it’s more maintenance, but it’s not like you’re switching cell phone companies.”
  • 5 Raised Bed Vegetable Garden Layout Tips and Tricks: Generally, when we envision ideas for a raised bed vegetable garden layout, we might be tempted to put vegetables where we think they’ll look best, or simply fit best, but experienced gardeners spend early spring planning their gardens for a good reason. This article gets into all the things to consider before you build your beds and lay them out.
  • How to Create a Custom DIY Drip Irrigation System for Raised Beds for Under $100: For the hands-on gardener, this article and accompanying video provide a complete list of materials you’ll need, along with step-by-step instructions to create your custom drip irrigation system. The best part? You don’t have to be super handy to recreate this in your own garden. 

Even with all this, Planning Your Perfect Garden still has four more feature articles to explore, but I can’t give everything away! I do hope you enjoy this special issue and find it helpful in making your garden as exciting and delectable as ever.

Happy gardening—and happy eating!


Kim Mateus
Editor & Publisher

P.S. Please enjoy this issue of Food Gardening Magazine, and let me know what you think about it by commenting below with your feedback! Your input is valuable to us and can help us make improvements.

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