Planning Your First Raised Bed Garden using Square Foot Gardening

In the last video for beginners we touched on raised bed gardening for beginners.  We left of having just filled the beds with great soil and mulching them.  Its time to plan your garden and on today’s episode I will take you through the process I go through every year.

Make a List of the Plants you Want to Grow

Making a list your first year can be a daunting task. Start by listing the fruits and vegetables you enjoy eating.

Pick out plants that are annuals. Annuals are fruits and vegetables that only produce in the first year and then die out.

Perennials are plants that once planted will come back year after year. Usually you don’t want to move them once planted.

By picking annuals in your first year you to learn how things grow without having to commit to perennials if you don’t want to.

If you have kids it’s a good time to think about what they may want to snack on.

Now it’s time to go to your preferred online seed store for some information. Generally speaking I go to and

Mark ones that need to be started early in the house

Some plants you will need to start in the house or purchase starts from your green house. It is usually much cheaper to start your own in a south facing window or under shop lights.

To find out which plants need to be started inside online vendors or the back of seed packages will give recommendations on when to plant the crop. I generally write these dates down on my list so I start them on time.

You may have to adjust the dates if your last frost date is earlier or later then the seed package.

If you’re not sure what your last frost date it’s a quick google search of your community with the term “last frost date” beside it. Usually its fairly quick to find.

Draw out a diagram of your garden

I am by no means an artist but I find drawing out my garden on paper helps me visualize the plants and what kind of spaces I have available. It is also easier to bring a a note book with my plans out into the garden and it makes it easier to keep previous years garden plans and lessons in the same place

I usually use pencil so as I work through the list I can make changes if I need to.

I usually use the Square Foot Gardening planting recommendation in my garden so I section the areas off my plan to represent a1 foot by 1 foot area.

I have found this method allows me to grow a wide variety of plants in a relatively small area.

Find out where the sunniest spot in your garden is

We spoke about this in the last episode but generally speaking the North side of your property will get the most sun in the summer as it faces south.

Once you have figured out the sunniest spot is in your garden its time to start planning.

Take note of the expected height of the plants making sure not to shade any

It’s a good idea to start with the larger plants like tomatoes and anything that may require more space or a trellis to grow.

Crops like indeterminate tomatoes will continue to grow all summer long and anything that is on the north side of them will get shade as the plant grows. Other tall plants will cast shadows like sunflowers and corn and anything behind a trellis with climbing crops like cucumbers and peas will too.

This may not be a bad thing. The seed information will tell you if the plant needs full sun which is generally 8+ hours of direct sun or if the plant can live or prefers partial shade or less than 6 hours of direct sun.

Some plants love shade like lettuce and herbs where as some are tolerant of shade like strawberries but they prefer full sun.

Once you have the placed the taller plants or ones that require more space you can put the less picky plants like onions and carrots in the remaining spots.

And look at the days until harvest

This number will let you know how long after you plant the crop in the garden you can expect to have your first harvest.

Some crops will produce once like root crops and berries while others can continue to produce like lettuce and peas.

If you have a short season like I do its good to pick crops that have a shorter days to harvest so you can have the best chance of success.

Now that you have a tentative plan you can select the varieties of each plant you want to grow and start getting ready.

Once you have the varieties you are going to plant you can finish off that list of when to plant each crop. The ones that can be planted directly into the garden can vary in time frame from as soon as the soil is workable like peas all the way to direct sow of melons in June.

With the crops I have selected this year I will some something to plant every two or three weeks now until June.

It is time to follow your garden plan and the planting schedule you have for set for yourself and enjoy!  Soon enough you will have your first crops that you grew all by yourself at home.

About Stephen

The Alberta Urban Garden Channel hopes to promote organic gardening that is simple, sustainable and does not have to cost a lot. We do this by investigating the Science behind gardening, methods, practices and products to make sure that you will have the best chance of successfully growing your own food at home.