Beginner Garden Plans

After four years of farming and even more years of talking to folks about their gardens, we’ve learned a few things about starting a successful home garden. Here are two plans, the first for a household that eats a lot of greens. The second maximizes delight and vegetable treats for kids.

Both gardens are 4’x4′ square. These beds need to be a minimum of 6″ deep. 6″ beds will need to be watered at least once a day, deeper beds can be watered less frequently.

Greens, Greens, Greens

9 Lettuce plants 9 lettuce plants 4 chard 4 chard
9 lettuce plants 9 lettuce plants 4 chard 4 chard
9 spinach plants 9 spinach plants 1 kale 1 kale
9 spinach plants 9 spinach plants 1 kale 1 kale

Notes about this garden plan:

– Chard and kale plants will grow all season. Harvest outer leaves as needed and the plant will continue to grow. The baby leaves of both of these are tender enough to eat in salad. Larger leaves can be cooked.

– Lettuce & spinach plants grow quickly and can be harvested about 1 month after you plant. You can either cut off the whole head, pull up the roots, and plant again, or harvest the outer leaves over several weeks.

– Greens require a lot of water so be sure to keep the soil moist.

– This garden gives the best financial return. The seeds are relatively inexpensive and salad greens are one of the most expensive items at the grocery store.

Kids Delight Garden Plan:

3 cucumber plants 3 cucumber plants 1 cherry tomato 1 cherry tomato
3 cucumber plants 3 cucumber plants 1 cherry tomato 1 cherry tomato
12 seeds for pea pods 12 seeds for pea pods 9 lettuce plants 9 lettuce plants
12 seeds for pea pods 12 seeds for pea pods 1 edible flower (marigold, nasturtiums, bachelors button) 1 pumpkin

Notes about this garden plan:

– It will become a jungle!

– Cucumbers & pea pods need to be trellised. A rustic teepee made of branches from the yard will do the trick.

– Tomatoes need cages or need to be tied to stakes to keep them off the ground.

– The pumpkin will vine and stretch out of the box.

– Lettuce grows quickly and can be harvested in 4 – 6 weeks. Once harvested, you can replant or let the tomatoes take over that space.

Consider all the informal science lessons that can happen in this garden. Children can help with measuring and the layout of the garden. Observe and compare the characteristics of various seeds and seedlings. Measure and record growth and harvest. Record observations on a calendar.

Most of all, enjoy your garden! Show it off to your friends! Even a modest garden may inspire someone else to begin gardening.

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About Fat Moon

Elizabeth is farmer, weeder, and owner of Fat Moon Farm in Westford, MA. Fat Moon sells locally grown vegetables and meat and hosts events that promote healthy lifestyles. Her favorite place is in the field at the farm and second favorite place is on a bike. Follow on Twitter @FatMoonFarmer
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