Vegetable Garden Plans
How much room will get you HOW many vegetables?!

I hate waking up.  Whenever I see a television commercial where some fresh faced woman sits up in bed at 6 a.m. grinning and stretching  like the very idea of jumping out of bed to meet the glorious day is the best part of her life, I want to kill her.  I understand she’ll be rewarded with  a) a glass of orange juice b) a cup of Folgers or c) the delight of knowing her tampon didn’t leak all night but still …. none of those things warrants a lobotomy grin.

When I used to fight traffic and drive 2 hours into work every morning, waking up meant slumping in the general direction of the floor, angrily putting my feet down and swearing.  Often the f word.  Out loud.  I’d then look back at the warm, dark bed with tears in my eyes and promise I’d jump right back in the very second I got home.  No bathing, no eating, just sleeping.

Now that I make my own schedule, nothing has changed.  It seems no matter what time I get out of bed or what lies ahead of me … I’m angry about it.  It doesn’t last long, but for those first few minutes upon waking … you don’t want to annoy me.  And by  “annoy” I mean exist.

But yesterday was different.  Yesterday I woke up knowing I was going to organize and plant my vegetable garden.  And I was a grinning, lobotomized idiot the second I woke up.  Truth is, whenever I have a huge project ahead of me I’m like the orange juice commercial girl in the morning.  (unless you count months 2 and 3 of building the chicken coop)


Planting my garden was made infinitely easier by using a tool I found online at Mother Earth News.

What I found there was a Vegetable Garden Planner. And it’s the most brilliant thing I’ve ever seen or used. Next to hair conditioner. Or as we said when I was 5, Cream Rinse.

The garden planner allows you to pick where you live in the world and the program does the rest from there. It’s basically graph paper that you can configure to be the size of your garden. The top of the program has a huge list of vegetables to drag and drop wherever you want them in your garden. It even automatically shows you how much space that plant will take up and how many you can plant in your specific space, and when to plant them!

The program is free for 30 days, then it’s a cost of $25. Worth every penny.



My Front Yard Vegetable Garden Plans



I’ve chosen to plant using a lesser known planting method called Square Foot Gardening.  Instead of planting your crops in rows, you do everything in a variety of one square foot plots.  How much you put in each square depends on how big the plant is.  The Mother Earth News Garden Planner allows you to choose whether you want to use square foot gardening.  All you do is click on the vegetable you want up at the top  of the page, drag it down to your space and the program automatically tells you how many of those particular vegetables can be planted into that square foot.  The bigger the vegetable the less you can put in the square foot.

For instance you can plant one tomato, 9 beets or 4 turnips in one square foot.

Using the square foot method of gardening lets you harvest a lot more than the standard row planting.  You can really smash a lot of plants into a very limited space. So if you want a garden but only have a 4′ x 4′ area, don’t be discouraged. You can get a huge amount out of that little space.


 And that’s just the first planting!  Many of the cool weather plants listed can be succession planted or planted again in mid summer for a fall harvest.  If you’re in Southern Ontario and you’d like to start planting right now.  Well damnit, you can.

People seem to think you can’t start planting anything until it’s warm out, but there are many things that can be planted out even when frost is still likely.

These cool weather crops include peas, carrots, lettuces, Kale, Beets, Asparagus, Onions, Radishes, Parsnips, Spinach, Kale and Swiss Chard.  These are all planted and sprouting in my front yard vegetable garden right now.  Many of them will be planted again later in the summer, doubling my crop size for those particular plants.

The more tender plants like tomatoes, squash etc. will wait until a later date to make their garden debut.

Next week I’ll reveal my complete front yard vegetable garden makeover.  For  now.  It’s back to bed.  You know … the vegetable bed.


  1. Mary Kay says:

    THANK YOU, thank you, thank you for the link to Mother Earth Garden Planner. I was trying to do this on pen and paper and let’s just say THANK YOU. We have been winging the garden thing the last couple of years and this year I told the hubby we needed to get serious and plant a rightous garden. With you as inspiration and this awesome software I think we might achieve that this year. Did I thank you? THANK YOU!

  2. Jennifer says:

    Looks Amazing! But, what?? No Brussel Sprouts??? :-)

    (I’m going to try growing peanuts…they are apparently amazing fresh…like peas!…and cotton is also fun to grow…but too late to start this year…)

  3. Karen I cannot wait to see this… remember I planted the garlic same time you did. This year I also have a raise bed I have planted beets, and some herbs but I also added some flowers cannot wait to add the vegetables… your looks GREAT very inspiring…

  4. Jeanne says:

    I am impressed. I am a flower and herb person so I would plant some Nasturtiums, Marigolds, Chives, amongst the plants; buy a bucket of Lady Bug Larvae
    to ward of unwanted bugs. A Praying Mantis for luck.
    They will stay year after year and eat any aphids that wander in from the neighbors. No powder dust and chemicals. LOL

  5. Brian says:

    “Veggies by Karen” roadside store? I get royalties from the name!:)

    • Karen says:

      Brian – I’m fine with that, as long as you don’t mind being paid in jalapeno peppers. ~ karen!

  6. Sandy says:

    This is good to know! Thanks so much.

  7. Barbie says:

    My neighbor has a sq foot garden and has a tiny little area compared to us! We have 3000 sq feet!!! I SWEAR her garden is so much PRETTIER! and produces an amazing amount of veggies! I’m thinking I may try this method if I can talk my husband and 88yr old Uncle to go along with me on it. (my 88 yr old Uncle may be a hard one to convince) He does most of the planting and maintaining and he is “old school” we will see! I am so excited to see your sprouts when they come up. LOVE your new front yard idea! Can’t wait to see more photos! :)

  8. ev says:

    Oh, and how will you keep the squash well behaved? We are going to plant hubbard squash this year and wonder how we will keep it confined. Whip and a chair maybe?

    • Karen says:

      I’m a bit worried about that to be honest. But I’ll reveal my plan for the squash next week. ~ karen!

    • muttering says:

      i was wanting to plant hubbard squash (i have the seeds) but i’ve never even seen one! what is the plant like? big and bushy like a yellow squash? or huge and viney like pumpkins? and whats the veg like itself? i hear its big.

      • Karen says:

        Muttering – A hubbard squash is big and huge with a skin so thick you need a saw to get through it. Stick with a butternut or acorn squash if you ask me. ~ karen!

  9. ev says:

    Super organized! Wish we had had that program years ago when we gardened big time. Still might do the square foot thing. It has been around a long time. Like me! Thanks Karen. Oh, and I too do not wake up as a social human. Never did. Grrrrrrr….

  10. Gettinby says:

    I forgot that we called it cream rinse. Even crazier, I live in Texas. I wonder why I stopped calling it that…

  11. Kim Merry says:

    I am using the square foot gardening also. We have been having nice weather for about a month now so I planted my lettuce early and I will be able to pick some this week!!!! I also planted potatoes on St. Patrick’s day and they are looking great! I planted them in a old metal trash can and a big leaf bag, you just keep adding soil as the plant grows and they are supposed to keep producing potatoes all the way to the top. I will let you know how this works out!

  12. mary c says:

    Cream rinse. I am still chuckling over that. And likely will be all day. Thanks-a-mucho.

  13. Deborah says:

    Awesome, awesome, awesome! Muchas gracias for the website! That is SO FRIGGEN COOL! :) thanks for tuning me into that program, I am now officially a grinning, lobotomized garden fanantic :D Oh, and yes, watch out for the jalapeno and serrano plants, they will easily produce over a hundred each plant (especially the serranos), I was inundated with peppers from 4 serrano plants last year and pickled sooooo many peppers! and I am down to my last jar now though, so obviously not enough! :D

  14. Amanda says:

    wow I need to plant… trying out bag gardening as I rent my house… I am not worried about the neighbors laughing at all the bags on my lawn as I am hoping they all think that I have finally gone over the edge LOL Ha Ha!!

  15. mimiindublin says:

    And by ”annoy” I mean exist.
    LOVE it! I’m exactly the same, so it’s great to know I’m not alone.
    I stupidly moved my lettuces out on saturday, they’re looking very limp and sodden cos it hasn’t stopped raining since then.
    I think I’ve proven that lettuce CAN get too much rain!

  16. Susan says:

    Thanks for the map! I will try not to disturb you when I raid your plot! Tee Hee! Looking good! :-)!

  17. J9 says:

    I do not have a green thumb (more like a black thumb of death) but I am enjoying reading about your venture. Also, I too become very angry upon waking up, which only gets worse with every passing day that I do it. I thought it was abnormal to have that emotion, so I’m glad I’m not alone. K…back to bed.

  18. Amber says:

    Thank you! I just KNEW there had to be a garden planning tool like this and was poking around the Internet unsuccessfully… Until now. So happy!

  19. jo says:

    I have been a square foot gardener for 15 years now. Only way to grow. You are going to love it. Congratulations on your new adventure!

  20. Jenny says:

    And the expansion this year as I take over every inch of lawn I can get away with.

    The main bed contains peas, red onions, purple carrots, orange carrots, romaine lettuce, bell peppers, Swiss chard, spinach and a rogue garlic. Two potato boxes behind surrounded by Scarlet runner beans with another smaller raised bed in front with mesclun, green leaf lettuce and bush beans. Tomatoes are in another area with mostly Brandywines. I am in the Okanagan, I planted on April 21st this year.

  21. Valerie says:

    The whole plan really looks quite fabulous.
    You may need more room for the asparagus as it will spread and in a few years you may need to relocate the peas and zucchini areas. Adding a scarecrow would be a nice touch….get a blonde wig for the scarecrow…and the crows will be impressed that you are out there 24 hours a day.

    • Karen says:

      Valerie – I plan to rotate everything every year. Well … that’s the plan anyway. Except for the asparagus obviously. I’m willing to take out everything to make room for asparagus. :) ~ karen

  22. Jenny says:

    I use a modified square foot system in a raised bed. Last year’s was 4×8 and this was result:

    The tomatoes did come from a separate area. The raised bed contained peas, bush beans, red onions, green onions, yellow onions, romaine lettuce, bell pepper and a zucchini. I had containers for garlic in front and potatoes planted behind.

  23. Tanya Stewart says:

    I so wish i was your neighbor…i would try to sneak some beets while you sleep…lol

  24. Carly H. says:

    If only I had this sooner! My boyfriend and I JUST planted the garden on Sunday, and I’m pretty sure we didn’t maximize our space as well as you…

  25. Melissa says:

    We started square foot gardening for the first time this year and guess what, we used that same program. I happily forked over my $25. Love the program with only a few minor usability complaints. Still, worth every penny! We have 308 squares at last count. I did not realize a jalapeño plant would produce so much. Sounds like we’re going to have about 1500 peppers between the yellow hot peppers, jalapeño and habanero plants we have. LOL. We have 3 tomatillos too and I’ve read they are heavy producers but I’ve no idea what to expect there for total yield. Good luck with your garden!

    • Langela says:

      I learned that if you want more heat to your peppers, they need no fertilizer and little water. The more water and fertilizer they get, the sweeter they will be. Just thought I’d pass that along.

    • Stephanie says:

      “WHAT ARE YOU DOING, GIRLIE?!?!?” My husband asked — and I don’t mean too politely!!! It was rather a shocked yell sort-of question! “Why, just planting a garden for which I’ve been inspired by this fabulous gardener named Karen!” The answer left him with a sort of scowling-shocked look !!!!!

      You see, the REAL reason my hubby was dismayed is because I was planting tomatoes and peppers on one, narrow strip of “land” (more like a small mound of dirt!!) which was located along the driveway of the 1920’s house we just moved into. Our home was located on a postage-sized lot, and I was certain there was positively NO space for any veggie plants. Voila! Your site inspired me to go a searchin’ for some planting soil and yep!~ There “she’ was….right beside my hubby’s parked car, along the side of our driveway. The area measures about 1 foot wide by 13 feet long and, I estimate, has done nothing but collect the neighbors’ blowing leaves for the past ten years or so. Well, to my amazement, when I began to trowel off the old leaves, I discovered the most fertilized, dark soil ever….apparently a product of the decade-long, decomposed leaves left there by the elderly, former occupants.

      Thanks, Karen and readers, for inspiring me to start my side-driveway garden. It only accommodated 13 plants consisting of tomatoes and peppers…..believe I can squeeze in another plant or two.
      So…..those of you with “no planting yards” whatsoever….look along the driveway! You just might discover a garden plot !!!!

      Stephanie from Lancaster County, Pa.

      • Karen says:

        Yay Stephanie! That’s fantastic. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a 1′ wide garden, lol. VERY impressive of you. It’s astonishing what you’ll get from that. My front yard is small and I get enough food for the whole neighbourhood. Of course I don’t let them have it but … Send photos once it all gets growing! I’d love to see it. ~ karen!

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