Zone 7 vegetable garden

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Peas for Fall

Peas grow best in cool and humid weather, which is why, where I live in Delaware (USDA Hardiness Zone 7), peas are considered early-spring crops only. Summer rapidly becomes too hot, and fall crops are impossible because we’d need to start the plants during unfavorably hot weather, or so the thinking goes.

My experience proves fall crops of peas are not only possible, but that their flavor is often superior. I believe the techniques I’ve developed will work for gardeners who live in zones 5 through 8. Farther north than zone 5, the growing season isn’t long enough for two crops. Farther south (and west) than zone 8, gardeners primarily plant fall crops because spring fades too quickly into summer.

The fall crop in my Delaware garden is lighter than my spring crop, but because the late peas mature in cool temperatures, they generally taste sweeter than spring peas. Production is a gamble. An early hard frost, particularly when the plants are in blossom, can ruin the crop. But, as with any gamble, if you make sure the odds are in your favor, you’re more likely to hit the jackpot. With careful variety selection and some simple precautions, I’ve had good luck.

Best Varieties for Fall Crops

The key is to plant only varieties with known tolerance of (or resistance to) heat and diseases.

Powdery mildew is the most common disease of peas in late summer. Other diseases that cause problems include: pea enation mosaic virus (primarily in the Pacific Northwest); bean yellow mosaic virus; common wilt; and pea leaf roll virus. To be cautious, call your local extension office or Master Gardener service and ask which pea diseases are common in your area, then select varieties resistant to those diseases.

Timing. The number following the variety name is the nominal –days to maturity–listed for the variety. The goal in fall planting is to time growth so that the first flowering occurs before the first frost in fall. Depending on the variety, that means planting 70 to 90 days before your average earliest hard-frost date. But because young plants grow slowly in late summer heat, I recommend you add 9 to 14 days to the days listed on the packet (and below). That way, the plants won’t blossom (you hope!) before a hard frost arrives.

SHELL PEAS

  • ‘Alderman’ (same as ‘Tall Telephone’, 73) is a 4- to 5-foot-tall variety that tolerates heat and produces well, but it is prone to powdery mildew and other pea diseases.
  • ‘Green Arrow’ (68) grows about 3 feet tall and produces high yields of pods with superior flavor. It resists wilt, pea leaf roll virus, and powdery mildew.
  • ‘Knight’ (58) grows 2 feet tall and is resistant to all pea diseases except pea leaf roll virus.
  • ‘Maestro’ (61) is similar to ‘Green Arrow’. It grows 2-1/2 feet high and resists all diseases except pea leaf roll virus.
  • ‘Novella II’ (65) is a 1-1/2-foot-tall, semileafless variety that produces a sufficient tangle of stems and tendrils to support itself upright. It is resistant to wilt, bean yellow mosaic virus, and powdery mildew.
  • ‘Oregon Trail’ (70) grows 2-1/2 feet tall and is resistant to wilt, mosaic virus, and powdery mildew.
  • ‘Top Pod’ (70) is a 2-foot-tall variety that takes more heat and dry weather than most peas and conveniently produces its clusters of pods at the plant tops, making harvest easy. It is also resistant to all diseases except pea leaf roll virus.
  • ‘Utrillo’ (71) is a 2-1/2-foot-tall variety that is resistant to powdery mildew.

SNAP PEAS

  • ‘Cascadia’ (60) is a 2-1/2-foot-tall variety recommended for the Northwest for its resistance to mosaic virus. It is also resistant to powdery mildew.
  • ‘Super Sugar Snap’ (62) grows on a trellis to 6 feet; it’s resistant to pea leaf roll virus and powdery mildew.

SNOW PEAS

  • ‘Oregon Giant’ and ‘Oregon Sugar Pod II’ are the same, except the latter grows nearly twice as tall as 2-1/2-foot ‘Oregon Giant’. Both are high-sugar snow peas and both are resistant to wilt, bean yellow mosaic virus, and powdery mildew.

How to Grow Peas in the Fall

Before planting late peas, add plenty of compost to the soil to help it retain moisture and stay cool during the summer when the peas really have to struggle. I spread about 2 inches of compost over the planting area and cultivate it in. Avoid high-nitrogen organic materials, such as lawn clippings or manures. Because peas are legumes and fix nitrogen in the soil by root nodules, fertilizing isn’t necessary. In fact, overfertilizing fall peas increases the plants’ susceptibility to frost.

The ideal temperatures for the germination of pea seeds are between 60° to 65° F for soil and about 75° F for air temperature. At those temperatures, the seeds will emerge in a few days. To hasten germination, or if growing conditions are slightly less favorable, soak the seeds overnight in lukewarm water.

If you’ve never grown peas before and the soil is not well conditioned, consider using a legume inoculant. These inoculants are beneficial bacteria that encourage the formation of the nitrogen-fixing nodules on the roots of legume plants.

After soaking, drain the peas and sprinkle the inoculant powder over them while they’re still wet. Then sow them immediately at a depth of 2 inches.

Sowing peas directly in the garden on an overcast day or during a cool period is preferred, particularly when a few days of rain are forecast. I don’t recommend starting seeds indoors and transplanting. During a summer of drought and scorching sun, I started ‘Super Sugar Snap’ peas indoors in peat pots, but they didn’t produce well.

It’s often a challenge to get the plants through the first month or so, and the heat sometimes wins if the nights are also hot and humid. You must protect the plants from direct, blazing summer sun, preferably with some form of screen. An easy solution is to plant late peas in the shade of tall garden plants like sweet corn or trellised beans or tomatoes that will be harvested in late summer. But even a strategically placed sheet of plywood or corrugated cardboard suffices.

Water and mulch. The weather is extremely hot and humid here in Delaware when I plant. I keep the bed watered until the seeds germinate, and then I water deeply every week until the plants are well established. Never allow the soil to dry out totally, or you’ll drastically reduce production.

Because peas’ feeder roots are shallow runners, mulch is essential to keep the soil around the roots cool and moist. When the seedlings are 1 to 2 inches high, mulch the plants with a layer of straw, rotted leaves, or compost. As the plants grow, you can add another layer or two of mulch.

Pests. Aphids are the scourge of the fall pea patch and can spread mosaic virus if you haven’t selected disease-resistant varieties. Vines that are 4 to 5 feet tall, like ‘Alderman’ and ‘Super Sugar Snap’, are especially tempting targets. Sprays of cold water in the early morning will knock aphids off the plants before a heavy infestation can occur.

Frostproofing Peas

Although young spring peas can withstand temperatures as low as 17° F, older plants maturing in the fall can tolerate only a light frost. A hard frost (25° F or below) will kill the leaves, the tendrils, and eventually the plants.

If the first killing frost is earlier than usual and you have a timely warning, protect the plants with a floating row cover, cloches, or even an old blanket. If all goes well, peas will mature when the days are chilly, but harvest will be over before bitter cold arrives and the plants succumb to cold.

Experiment with different varieties until you find the ones that do best in your fall garden. You may occasionally lose a crop, but your successes will far outweigh your losses.

Weldon Burge writes and gardens in Newark, Delaware.

Since you cannot purchase shelling peas or edible pod peas that are freshly picked, this is one vegetable every home garden should have. The peas in the pod taste sweetest right after they have been picked (while you’re still in the garden!). Follow along with this handy how to grow peas guide and grow food.

Latin
Pisum sativum
Family: Fabaceae

Difficulty
Easy

We Recommend: Little Marvel (PE605) is a compact, bushy pea variety that only grows a couple of feet tall. Then the pods come and they can be harvested over a window of about three weeks. The peas have a satisfying, fresh flavour and they freeze particularly well, so it’s an economical crop for winter use.
For Urban Gardeners: Surprise your guests by serving a salad of pea microgreens using Dwarf Grey Sugar (PE592). Harvest the seedlings at about 4 inches tall, while they are still tender and crunchy – try them with a simple vinaigrette dressing!

Timing
Peas prefer cool weather. Plant as early in spring as the soil can be worked, from mid-Feburary to the end of May. After April 1, sow varities that are listed as being enation resistant if you live in an area where aphids carry the enation virus. Sow again from July to mid-August for a fall crop. The success of a fall crop will depend on the weather. Optimal soil temperature: 10-20°C (50-70°F). Seeds should sprout in 7-14 days.

Starting
Soaking seeds is not advised for damp soils. Sow seed 2cm (1″) deep. After April 15th, sow seed 5cm (2″) deep. Space seeds 2-7cm (1-3″) apart in the row. Do not thin. If the seeds fail to sprout, try to dig some up and check for rot or insect damage. The challenge with untreated pea seeds is to give them an early start but to avoid rot.

Growing
Use well-drained soil amended with finished compost. Add 2 cups of rock phosphate or bonemeal for 3m (10′) of row. Plant most varieties along a trellis or fence for support as they climb.

Harvest
Pick when pods fill out and peas are bright green. Make multiple sowings or grow several varieties to extend the harvest season.

How to Blanch Peas
Peas of all kinds freeze particularly well for use in the fall and winter. Prior to freezing, it’s important to briefly submerge peas in boiling water — this kills the natural enzymes that exist in peas that would otherwise reduce the nutrients and cause the peas to break down over time. We recommend using a large pot of water at a rolling boil, and a colander or sieve for dipping. Timing is everything. For snap and snow peas, dip the whole pods into boiling water for exactly two minutes, and then transfer the pods to a bowl of ice water. For shelled peas, ninety seconds is perfect. Use a timer. After ninety seconds, transfer the peas to a bowl of ice water. All peas (and pods) should then be dried thoroughly on kitchen towels before being stored in zip-top or vacuum bags, with as little air as possible in each bag.

Diseases & Pests
If plants turn yellow and wither from the ground up just after flowering, you have pea root rot from a soil fungus. It infects the plant in early spring when the soil is very wet. Prevent it by delaying planting until the soil is drier and by using finished compost when you plant. Rotate peas into new areas each year without repeating an area for 3-4 years. Pea enation disease is a Coastal virus disease spread by the green peach aphid. It ends flowering and causes pods to become warty and misshapen.

The pea moth is a sporadic and usually inconspicuous pest. The tiny brown moth flutters around when the flowers are just opening, and lays it eggs on the immature seed pod. The damage the caterpillar does not mean you can’t eat the rest of the peas in the pod. The larva is a tiny caterpillar with a black head, which feeds inside the seedpod and overwinters in the soil. There is one generation per year across Canada. In the pea-growing areas of the lower Fraser Valley in British Columbia, releases of two parasites have provided partially effective biological control. In general, processing and fresh-market pea crops should not be grown in areas with dry (seed) pea or seed vetch crops. After harvest, all remaining pods and vines should be destroyed by ensiling, feeding or deep cultivating.

Companion Planting
Superb companions for beans, carrots, celery, corn, cucumber, eggplant, parsley, peppers. potatoes, radish, spinach, strawberries and turnips. Avoid planting peas near onions.

More on Companion Planting.

Our friend Rebecca at Abundant City has some great tips for growing peas, including the application of seed inoculant. Check out her video below.

Easy Vegetables to Grow in Your Arkansas Garden

By Sarah E. White

Vegetable gardening is a lot of fun. It’s great to harvest food from your back yard, and it’s wonderful for kids to have a chance to learn where food comes from and to help grow some of their favorites.

If you’ve never grown vegetables before, don’t worry. This list of easy-to-grow vegetables (and some herbs, too) will help you wisely choose the produce that will give you the most success.

Lettuce

Nearly every list of easy-to-grow vegetables starts with lettuce, and with good reason: so long as you plant it at the right time, it will grow from seed with little attention.

The right time is when the soil is cool, in the spring and fall. In Arkansas, you can plant lettuce seeds from February to April, and again in September for a fall harvest.

Check for varieties of lettuce and spinach that are more heat-tolerant to keep greens growing longer through the season.

Radishes

Radishes are often touted as the perfect starter crop for kids because they grow so fast – from seed to harvest in around 20 days.

I don’t know a lot of kids who like radishes, but if you and your family do enjoy them, they are super easy and fast to grow. Plant February to May in Arkansas, as well as in August and September for fall crops.

Carrots

Speaking of root vegetables, carrots are another great, easy vegetable for kids and first-time gardeners alike (and kids are more likely to want to eat them).

Baby carrots grow fast and don’t need as much good soil as longer carrots do. Either kind can be started from seed between February and April, after the chance of frost has passed, or in early August for a fall harvest. They’re usually ready in about 75 days.

Green Beans

One great seed you can plant, pretty much leave alone other than watering, and end up harvesting a huge amount from a few plants is green beans.

The only thing green beans need is something to grow on. When I was growing up, we used a trellis made of clothesline. Once your green beans get going – about two months after planting – you’ll want to check them every day for new beans, because you’re likely to find them.

Plant beans from March through August, after the chance of frost has passed where you live.

Snap Peas

Like green beans, snap peas are pretty quick and easy to grow from seed. They can be planted from March through August, so keep dropping seeds every couple of weeks for a consistent harvest.

Give plants support with trellises, and you’ll have peas to snack on in a little less than two months.

Cucumbers

Similar to the other vining vegetables on this list, cucumbers just need support and regular watering to thrive.

You’ll want to check your vines daily once they start producing – which should be about 65 days after planting from April to May (sooner for little pickling cucumbers) – because cukes can sneak up on you. They will hide until they are gigantic and they can turn huge without warning.

They’re perfect in summer salads, a refreshing addition to drinks, and you might be surprised to learn that homegrown cucumbers actually have flavor!

Tomatoes

Tomatoes can be kind of touchy. There are lots of pests and diseases that can get them, some varieties don’t like it too hot and they can crack if you water them too much. But the whole reason to have a garden is to be able to eat vine-ripened tomatoes still warm from the sun, so give them a try.

It’s easiest to grow tomatoes from seedlings rather than starting the seeds yourself. Dig a big hole and bury about half of the plant in the ground.

Cherokee Purple and Arkansas Pink are classic local varieties that do well in Arkansas. Or try cherry tomatoes in a container or in the ground; they tend to be easier to grow and can still produce a lot of fruit.

Tomatoes should be planted after all chance of frost is gone – do not rely on when they show up in stores as a reliable predictor of when to plant.

Herbs

Most herbs are pretty easy to grow as long as they get adequate sunlight. I like to grown mine in pots so I can move them around to sunny spots when they need it, and shadier places in the heat of the summer. Pots are essential for mint because it will spread if allowed to.

Many herbs can be grown successfully from seed, including parsley, cilantro, mint, dill, chives and basil. We usually buy both basil plants and seeds to have a lot, and we buy rosemary and thyme as plants instead of starting them from seed. Either way they’re easy to grow, and you can harvest what you need for a fresh addition to meals all summer long.

by First Security Mortgage // June 24, 2016

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Find the best dates for planting vegetables and fruit in your garden! Our free planting calendar calculates the best time to start seeds indoors and outdoors, as well as when to plant young plants outside.

How to Use the Planting Calendar

Simply put, a planting calendar is a guide that tells you the best time to start planting your garden. Most planting calendars are based on frost dates, which dictate when you should start seeds and when it’s safe to plant outdoors in your area. Our planting calendar is customized to your location in order to give you the most accurate information possible.

On the planting calendar below, please note:

  • The Frost Dates indicate the best planting dates based on your local average frost dates. Average frost dates are based on historical weather data and are the planting guideline used by most gardeners.
  • The Moon Dates indicate the best planting dates based on your local frost dates and Moon phases. Planting by the Moon is considered a more traditional technique.
  • The Plant Seedlings or Transplants dates indicate the best time to plant young plants outdoors. This includes plants grown from seed at home and plants bought from a nursery. Although frost dates are a good way to know approximately when to start gardening, always check a local forecast before planting outdoors!
  • When no dates appear in the chart, that starting method is not recommended for that particular plant. Some crops do best when started outdoors rather than indoors, while others prefer the opposite.
  • Click on the name of a plant to see our corresponding Growing Guide.

To plan your garden more accurately in the future, keep a record of your garden’s conditions each year, including frost dates and seed-starting dates!

Are you ready to plant your garden, but are feeling a little unsure of how to lay it out?

Well, it seems everyone faces that dilemma each year. The reason is that there are so many different ways to lay out your garden.

Then you have to consider what your goal for your vegetable garden is. Do you want it to give some produce but also care about aesthetics? Are you more interested in getting the most produce possible from your garden?

After you decide what your primary goal for your vegetable garden is, then scroll through the vegetable garden plans I’ve gathered from all over the internet and see which options work the best for you.

Simple Vegetable Garden Plans

Here are the vegetable garden plans:

1. Raised Garden Bed Gardening Plans

These plans are amazing. The reason is that they take each raised garden bed into account and lay it all out to scale.

Then you can see that they incorporate the purpose of each vegetable as well. For instance, you’ll see they are growing multiple beds of tomatoes.

However, they label the tomatoes that are meant for sauce, the tomatoes meant for sandwiches (or slicers), and also incorporate the other vegetables they plan to grow in smaller amounts.

Which is why this thorough layout would be a great place to start if you are planning on gardening in raised beds this year.

2. Pallet Garden Plan

If you want to grow a smaller garden, then you might want to consider this method. You have one raised garden bed.

Then you put a pallet on the backside of the bed to allow vegetables to grow up it for support. This should be a frugal option as well.

From there, you’ll need to know how to make the most of your garden bed. This layout gives you a square for each vegetable grown.

As you can see, you can have quite a variety of vegetables growing in one bed. This would be an excellent option for those who live in suburban areas with smaller yards.

3. The Multi-Bed Garden Plan

This garden plan is another exact layout. It incorporates multiple beds. This means that you can grow a ton of food and different varieties, too, because they won’t be in the same bed.

Which is great because you can grow everything from vegetables, to flowers, to large sunflowers in one garden.

Also, it offers a plan for companion plants as well. You’ll notice that when you see a mixture of vegetables and flowers. People usually do this to keep pests at bay, but be sure to do your research to check for accuracy.

4. 5,000 Square Foot Vegetable Garden Plans

Do you need to grow a lot of food? I understand because I have to produce a ton of food every year to feed my family.

However, it can be challenging to plan out where everything should go. Thanks to this layout, it doesn’t have to be complicated this year.

In fact, you can see where she has made room for everything from vegetables to fruits to nuts. You name it; you can probably find a way to make it work in this garden.

5. Garden Planner #3

I am in love with this garden plan because it looks neat and tidy. It also doesn’t waste any space when filling in the garden.

However, it doesn’t look overcrowded. It has a nice balance to it and seems like it would be easy to maintain.

When you need a garden plan that will hold a lot of food and look good too, then you’ll want to consider this layout.

6. Intensive Garden Plan for Maximum Harvest

This is another garden plan that I love. The reason is that it has the garden layout for spring, summer, and fall.

Also, I like how it can fit a lot of variety into one medium sized garden space.

However, the drawback is that the image has a key that you must translate. That isn’t all that difficult, but it isn’t as simple as some either.

7. 4×4 Foot Square Foot Gardening

Square foot gardening is a great way to be able to fit a variety of vegetables into one vegetable garden space. Which is why I love this layout.

Also, I love how plain the design is. It is easy to follow and see what is going on. It makes planting a small garden very simple.

Plus, it also shows you proper placement of vegetables to keep everything from overlapping or stunting growth.

8. Summer Vegetable Garden Plans

Are you working on a smaller plot and need to know how to arrange everything? This plan is for you then.

This design includes everything from vegetables to herbs. It also looks nice, since you have the shorter items in the front.

Followed by the taller and cascading items in the back. It would add some charm to your yard.

9. Fall Vegetable Garden Plans

If you are stumped as to how you should arrange your fall garden, then check this plan out. It is easy to read and includes all of your necessary fall vegetables.

But my favorite part about this design is that it includes everything in a lot of detail. You have the trellis where you are supposed to grow peas.

Then you have lots of fresh greens and carrots thrown in the mix as well. It is a great design that embraces simplicity.

10. Spring Vegetable Garden Plans

This garden design has a lot of detail included in it as well. You can tell that the creator had the thought of aesthetics and not just production.

But if you live in a suburban area, then you know that how your garden looks can often matter to those around you and your HOA.

Which is why this layout might be conducive to many. Also, it includes lots of fresh vegetables that are spread out uniquely.

11. Auntie Dogma’s Garden Design

Auntie Dogma knew what she was talking about when she created this garden layout. It is effortless to read, and she explains why she chose to place items in certain places.

But if you are also looking for a helpful resource on growing and planning your first garden, then this could be a useful resource.

Whether you need background or just a garden design idea, most will find this a valuable resource.

12. Companion Planting Layout

I already mentioned a little above that many people plan out their garden using companion planting. This is when you plant certain plants together that will compliment or protect each other just by being in close quarters.

Well, this is what this layout is all about. They tell you which vegetables they are growing this year and where they will plant.

Then they show which plants compliment each other (or are companions) and build an entire layout from that standpoint.

13. High Yield Veggie Garden

This resource doesn’t give you an actual layout to work from. It does, however, give you tips on how to properly plan your garden layout.

With that in mind, I felt it was still worth including in this post because many people want to create their own layout, but need some pointers are where to start.

If that is you, then you’ll want to check out the tips and begin building a layout that works for your location.

14. Hip Chick’s Garden Plan 2013

This layout (the way it is illustrated) looks like the first garden plan I shared. It is different in some ways.

First, many more vegetables are included in this garden design. This is great news if you are someone that wants to grow more variety in your garden.

Then I like that the tomatoes are included in multiple beds, instead of lumped together. It all depends upon your gardening goals and preferences.

15. Sobear Garden Plan

This garden plan is a great one. I love the way they created it visually because it makes it easier to follow.

Also, I’m a fan of the fact that they included both flowers, vegetables, and herbs in a unique garden design.

Finally, I love the incorporated walkway all the way around it to make it easier to get to and care for the plants.

16. King George Homes Garden Design

If you are someone that is new to creating or following a garden design, then you might find this option useful.

To start, it is very easy to follow. The graphics are simple. There is no key to understanding it. Also, it is created in a way that is simple to read.

But it also incorporates a variety of vegetables and fruit. I love the fact that it includes hanging baskets for smaller greens as well.

17. The Great Small Garden Layout

This layout is more difficult to read, in my opinion. You can see the names of the vegetables, but it just isn’t as apparent as some of the other plans shared.

However, the layout itself still should work quite well. You should be able to fit a variety of vegetables into a small gardening space.

Then you can have a beautiful and productive garden this summer.

18. Small Garden Layout

I’m a fan of this type of garden design. I think it is easier to read for those that are looking to duplicate the idea.

Which means, if you need a design that will be easy to follow, then you’ll want to check this one.

Also, I love the fact that they have marigolds going all the way around it. It adds protection to the plants and an additional element of beauty to the garden.

19. The Flower/ Vegetable Layout

This garden design is quite cool. If you like to add flowers to your vegetable garden plans, then you’ll love this design.

They plant a variety of vegetables in the center of the garden. This is great because then you can have more options throughout the growing season.

Then they add sunflowers on the ends and marigolds on the sides to add protection for the vegetables and a splash of color too.

Well, you now have 19 different vegetable garden plans that could help you to grow a beautiful garden this year.

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By: Sarah Koontz

I am sure that you have read the advice to plant a small garden if you are a beginner. Here is my advice:

If you are a new gardener with the intention of building a large garden, prepare yourself to work EXTREMELY HARD if you want to be successful.

This is my 3rd season gardening, and I have had a lot of success so far. My husband and I built our dream home out on 13 acres in the country in the spring of 2013. We moved in at the end of May after a whirlwind 3 month building project.

On of my requests (and all of you women know, it was more of an ultimatum) was that hubby build me a garden ASAP so I didn’t miss the growing season.

And by June 1, I was planting my very first vegetable garden (I am married to a saint). The size of my very first vegetable garden was 1,000 sq ft. Here are some photos from my first year gardening:

I had a lot more time to prepare for my second year of gardening. I spent a good portion of the winter studying up on intensive gardening techniques, and discovering ways to extend my short growing season.

I live in zone 4a, so a few more weeks on either side of the growing season could really change things for me.

I learned how to start my own seeds (read my top 10 Seed Starting Hacks), asked hubby to build hoop houses and cold frames, and planted my first cold hardy vegetables out mid-April. That was a full month and a half ahead of the previous year. Here are photos from my second year gardening:

What a difference a year can make?!?

I had a blast learning how to get the MOST out of MY FRUGAL DIY garden last season (here are 70 of my favorite FRUGAL Gardening Resources).

I learned a lot about companion planting, succession planting, and season extension. My garden produced a beautiful crop (although we did suffer from an extremely early hard frost, and a few rounds of hail).

I was able to can and preserve a lot of the harvest, and we are still enjoying the fruits of our summer toil!

I am rarely satisfied. This is something my husband has learned to accept about me (I hope!) during our decade of marriage. At one point, I am certain he believed that SAYING YES TO CHICKENS (that was his birthday gift to me in 2014) was going to satisfy me for a time.

But I truly want to be as self sufficient as a northerner can possibly be, and our garden simply was NOT BIG ENOUGH! So last fall we extended our garden to a full 75×75 (that is 5,000+ sq ft). I have spent the last few months making a vegetable garden plan, and I am looking forward to getting my hands dirty this season. Here are some photos from our expansion project:

It is my hope to post frequent updates this gardening season on our progress and experience with our large vegetable garden. () I will be planting approximately 60 different varieties of fruit, vegetables, flowers and herbs. Here is a downloadable .PDF of the plants I will be growing in my 5,000+ sq ft vegetable garden this year.

Click the Image to Download:

I have often wished that more large-scale gardeners shared their plans online, so I hope this is a benefit to you! Click the Image below to view a closeup of my 5,000+ Zone 4 Vegetable Garden Plan:

View Detailed Garden Plan:

I also believe in the value of a detailed garden schedule. I always do the math pre-season and work hard to develop a planting schedule. I figure out when I will need to start certain seeds indoors, schedule a plan to harden them off and plant them outside.

I refer to my garden schedule regularly throughout the growing season. It is so nice to start the week by looking at my garden schedule and work with the confidence that I am not forgetting anything.

As the season progresses, I will keep track of my garden tasks in a journal. Keeping good records of planting schedules, fertilizing schedules, and harvest dates will create a valuable resource to help me plan my 2016 garden.

I am sure that I will make minor changes to this plan as we go throughout the season, but this is what I have for now (if you live in a different gardening zone, these dates will not apply to you):

Are you planning a vegetable garden this year? What can I do to help?

This article has been shared at many of my favorite linkups.

SFF may receive commissions from purchases made through links in this article. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Maybe you are an experienced gardener, and you have a neat binder full of garden plans and notes where you’ve carefully recorded your crop rotations, varieties and successes over the years. Or maybe you are starting a new garden in a new place, and want an easy way to plan and track your plantings. Or, maybe you’re a new gardener, and have no clue how to plan and organize your garden at all.

Whether your a garden sage or a total newbie, these online vegetable garden planning tools can make planning this year’s garden a real snap!

Creating a Garden Plan

When creating a garden plan, there are several variables to consider

  • the size of your garden
  • the amount of sun your garden gets throughout the year, and the length of your growing season
  • the number of people the garden will be feeding
  • what you all like to eat, and the space those plants take to grow
  • what you would like to can, preserve or freeze
  • the needs of the plants you want to grow
  • the method of gardening you are using (raised beds, rows, Square Foot, biointensive, etc.)
  • what was successful in the garden last season, and where you planted it

Most gardeners start with a piece of graph paper and some pencils, and sketch out a plan of their yard. (Sometimes, it’s even to scale!)

Then, if you are a novice gardener, you will probably spend a lot of time looking at charts in gardening books or the instructions on the back of your seed packets to determine when to plant, how much space each plant needs to grow, and roughly when you will harvest.

Then, through nearly superhuman feats of logic, mathematics and geometry, you calculate a plan for your garden that will give you all the food you want while also considering seasonality, crop rotations, companion planting, and phases of the moon.

Or you give your brain a Charley horse with the effort, and just end up sticking some seeds and plants in the ground to map out later. (Maybe.)

While gardening should be at least as much a joy as it is an effort, if you want to have a garden that can provide a good portion of your food (if not all of it), you’ll need to have a plan. (Moon phases optional.)

Fortunately, some of those people overwhelmed (or perhaps bored) by hand-drawn, garden planning logic puzzles happened to be computer programmers. And they made the perfect apps for people new to, intimidated by, or tired of “old-school” garden planning.

Thanks to these four online vegetable garden planning apps, garden planning has never been faster or easier!

Related:

  • The 10 Best Seed Companies for Heirloom and Non-GMO Seeds
  • The Difference Between Open Pollinated, Hybrid and GMO Seeds

GrowVeg

The GrowVeg garden planning app is the Cadillac of online garden planning software. It is $29 for an annual subscription, but you can try it free for 7 days.

GrowVeg is also available for your smartphone and your iPad.

GrowVeg determines the best times to plant, based on your zip code, and finds the average first and last frost dates for your area, based on records from over 5,000 weather stations across the United States and Canada.

If your experience in your microclimate points you toward different dates, you have the option of setting the frost dates yourself. Then GrowVeg will use these dates to tell you the best planting times for dozens of garden crops.

The GrowVeg Garden Planner software shows how much space your plants require and how to group them for maximum success, removing the need to look up planting distances and crop families. Most vegetables and herbs have already been coded with space requirements, so you can quickly see how many will fit in a given bed or row.

You can quickly find companion plants for each type of vegetable you are planting, plan succession plantings for later in the season, and even plot out your drip irrigation lines.

Once your plan is complete, the software compiles a chart showing how many of each plant you need to buy or raise from seed, the correct spacing and recommended planting dates for your area. You can print both the plan and plant list as a handy reference to take into your garden.

GrowVeg will even send you twice-monthly reminders about what crops to sow and plant from your plans, enabling you to keep track of succession plantings very easily. It really couldn’t get much more convenient!

If your garden beds are already in place, simply set up your garden’s template in the application and start plugging in plants. Or, use the app to design new beds for any garden. GrowVeg even has space calculations for the Square Foot Gardening method!

One really neat feature is that GrowVeg will help you rotate your crops next year, plan for cover crops, leave notes about when to add compost and fertilizer and more. For a well-organized and timely planted garden, this app covers just about everything, and is well worth the annual subscription fee.

Check out GrowVeg

Kitchen Garden Planner by Gardener’s Supply Company

The Kitchen Garden Planner is a free, basic vegetable garden planner created by Gardener’s Supply Company, one of the better mail order gardening retailers. (They also have a very useful raised bed soil calculator, too!)

The Kitchen Garden Planner offers users two very convenient options: Selecting a pre-planned garden or creating your own garden plan.

For newbie gardeners, a pre-made garden plan can really make planning and planting your first garden very easy. Even experienced gardeners will find the pre-made plans unique and inspiring! The pre-designed bed templates are one of the best features of this planning app.

The Kitchen Garden planner is incredibly easy to use; you simply put in the dimensions of your garden beds and then drag and drop the plants you want to grow onto the grid. Beneath the plan, you will find planting instructions for every plant you have selected. You can neatly save your plan and print it out, or browse the rest of the site for tons of outstanding organic gardening advice.

Unlike GrowVeg, this planner doesn’t calculate frost dates to tell you when to plant, nor can it plan for successions of crops throughout the year. And it doesn’t give you plant lists or send you reminders to keep you on track. You have to figure all that out yourself.

But for a free planner, the Kitchen Garden Planner is a really nice, high-quality, user-friendly app.

Check out the Kitchen Garden Planner

PlanGarden

PlanGarden is not very sexy at first glance. It looks rather low-budget in fact. But don’t let first impressions fool you; PlanGarden is a robust piece of garden planning software. It should be, because after your 45-day free trial of the software, it costs $20 a year, or $36 for three years.

With PlanGarden, you can lay out your beds to scale, and place and label your plants by variety. With the harvest feature, you can easily plan succession crops and harvest dates. This is a really nice feature to have if you plan to grow a large percentage of your food.

Finally, PlanGarden has a nice daily log that enables you to schedule and record garden activities like weeding, turning compost, fertilizing beds and the like. All of it is easily saved and printed for future use.

Unlike GrowVeg.com or the Kitchen Garden Planner, PlanGarden does not have automated data entry for plant spacing. They provide a Vegetable Calculator and a Frost Calculator to help you space things and decide when to plant, but you have to look up each vegetable you want to grow with those calculators, and place that data into your garden plan yourself.

PlanGarden covers all your garden bases very neatly, and has great scheduling features, but it doesn’t offer automated crop data entry, crop rotation warnings, email reminders, or any of the other bells and whistles offered by the other two planners.

Rather, PlanGarden is much more DIY, and runs a bit like an AutoCAD program custom built for gardeners, enabling you to draw and plan garden beds with irregular shapes or unusual planting configurations. PlanGarden also has a community where people share their garden plans and learn from each other.

Because you have to enter all the data for your garden plan yourself, and there are no shortcuts or presets to ease your math cramps, this planner is probably a better tool for the more experienced gardener who wants a lot of flexibility in their design, or is looking for a modern, faster, neater way to organize their garden records.

Check out PlanGarden

SmartGardener

SmartGardener is an affordable garden planning app that has some pretty robust tools. ($6/season, $20/year) Their plant database maintains over 3,000 varieties of seeds (which are sold on the site). They also have a nice little library of gardening tips and videos, and a forum, too.

After setting your location and answering a few questions, SmartGardener calculates your planting zone and gives you suggestions on what to plant and when. Then, very conveniently, you can have SmartGardener email you with garden tasks for the week, telling you when to plant and harvest each variety you select to plant in your garden.

The planner itself is pretty intuitive, and lets you set a square-foot grid any size you like. It gives you a variety of shapes and sizes for your garden beds that you can adjust in square-foot increments to fit your plot. The designs are simple and attractive, and you can share your garden plans with other members of the SmartGardener community.

From there, you will need to choose and place your particular plant varieties from their database. The only plants offered for the planner are those offered by their seed vendors, which means that if you plant a type of melon or carrot that isn’t offered by their vendors, it cannot calculate the harvest times for that variety.

You can work around this to a degree by finding a variety in the app that is similar to the one you want to plant, but the full functionality of the program is limited by the vendor-based plant database, since it is these vendors who sponsor this planner.

While this is one of the nicest planners out there, unfortunately, the mobile version of this app leaves a lot to be desired, and it doesn’t seem fully mobile ready. Hopefully, they will fix this soon, because many people like to take their plans out to the garden with them.

Check out SmartGardener

I hope you’ll try one of these four online vegetable garden planning tools to create a beautiful and productive garden this year.

Do you have any garden planning tips? Please share them in the comments!

Brassica rapa var. rapifera
Turnips are cool-weather members of the cabbage family, which includes broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and kohlrabi.

• More detailed information can be found in The Georgia Fruit & Vegetable Book by Walter Reeves and Felder Rushing

• See also:

Home Garden Turnip

Georgia Gardening

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Vegetable Garden Calendar

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Small Garden Plan

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When to Harvest Vegetables

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Turnips and their leafy greens, grown since early Roman Empire days, have been familiar staples of the Southern garden and winter diet since early settlers first came to Virginia and the Carolinas in the 1600’s. A small amount can supply a family for months.

WHEN TO PLANT

The turnip roots develop best in cooler weather. Grow turnips for a spring or a fall crop, sowing seed directly in the garden in March or early April, and again in August and September.

WHERE TO PLANT

Plant turnips in a full-sun location (8 to 10 hours will suffice) that has well-prepared, well-drained, fertile soil. Poorly prepared or rocky soil results in poorly formed roots.

HOW TO PLANT

Apply a complete garden fertilizer, such as 10-10-10, at a rate of 11/2 pounds per 100 square feet of garden. Spade or rototill the soil. (See “Soil Preparation” in the introduction to the vegetable garden.) To plant in rows, sow seeds 1/2 inch deep 8 to 10 per foot, in rows 12 inches apart. To plant in beds, sow in rows 10 to 12 inches apart across the beds. If root maggots have been a problem in the past and your previous crops have suffered damage, mix an approved garden insecticide in water according to label directions, and apply it as the seeds are watered in. As soon as seedlings are 4 inches tall, thin them to about 3 inches apart, and use the extra ones for greens.

CARE AND MAINTENANCE

For the best-quality turnips, water as necessary to keep the plants vigorous and growing. Usually, about 1 inch of water per week is sufficient. Rapid growth results in the best quality. Pests include aphids and leaf-eating beetles. Use an approved garden insecticide according to directions, especially following waiting periods between application and harvest.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Harvest turnip greens about 5 weeks after sowing. Cut them just above the root so that they may regrow. Varieties grown for greens do not usually make satisfactory roots for harvesting. Harvest turnips grown for the roots when they are about 2 to 3 inches in diameter. If they are allowed to grow beyond maturity, the roots will be tough, woody, and poorly flavored. Don’t throw the tops away; use them for greens. Turnips are quite hardy and will stand a freeze. Store late crops in the ground, and they will become sweeter with the cold. Protect them with heavy straw mulch to prolong the harvest into the early part of the winter, but dig the remaining roots before they are exposed to a hard freeze. Turnips also store well under refrigeration, but they may wilt. Protect them from wilting by dipping them in warm paraffin wax or storing them in plastic bags.

VARIETIES

Varieties
Days to Maturity

Alltop q
35 days
For leafy green, not roots; regrows quickly.

Seven Top
40 days
Dark green leaves, small roots.

Topper
35 days
Vigorous leaf production, slow to bolt.

Purple Top
55 days
The standard, purple and white root.

Tokyo Cross
35 days
Uniform white roots, slow to become woody. AAS.

White Lady
50 days
Sweet and tender, slow to become pithy

Just Right
70 days
Large white roots and large abundant leaves, highly cold tolerant

Shogoin
35 days
Dual-purpose with mild and tender small roots and abundant leaves

Tags For This Article: turnips, vegetables

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