My Spring Project: Start a Garden, Week 1: Kitchen Garden Layout & Seed-Starting

published Apr 4, 2014
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(Image credit: Regina Yunghans)

I grew up in a family with a huge garden, which might have something to do with why I haven’t gardened on my own until now. I’m so excited to get back to it, though, with this small kitchen garden of only 4×7-ish feet. The garden will be steps from the back kitchen door and near a small herb bed I started last year with chives, tarragon, sage, thyme and mint. Here’s the plan.

The Design

The vegetable garden will be planted in a raised bed using salvaged cedar beams from a deck we removed from the back of our house a couple of years ago. The beams are big, at 4″ by 8″, which will make for a nice, wide place to kneel when working. The beams are eleven-plus feet in length, but not quite twelve, which will make the plantable area of the garden a little under 4’x7′ when they’re cut down and assembled.

I’ll be planting using the square foot gardening method popularized by Mel Bartholomew as a basis, with a few deviations as needed. Containers of squash (which will grow too bushy for a small garden space), basil, and flowers will dapple the surrounding area.

With the kitchen just 12 feet away and the grill an about-turn from the tomatoes, we’re looking forward to using the fruits of our labor this summer and into the fall. The plan you see up top is the initial planting, with cabbage plants replacing some of the early summer plants (that huge family garden has traditionally contained lots and lots of cabbage, as we’re from a long line of kraut-makers).

(Image credit: Regina Yunghans)

Indoor Seed-Starting

I’ve started some plants from seed indoors: tomatoes, peppers, basil, onions, and cabbage. Starting from seed saves a lot of money and you know exactly where your plants have come from. In this case, my source was the Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co., a fantastic midwestern source for heirloom, non-GMO seeds that distributes nation- (and world-) wide.

I’ve used clean egg cartons and an organic seed starting medium. The two cartons of sprouts have become my babies. They sit on top of the refrigerator at night for a little warmth and are moved down to a windowsill or grow light (depending on the day’s sun) daily. I planted two seeds in each divot, and now that the sprouts are growing leaves, it’s time to cut one sprout and leave the strongest to grow into planthood (shown above). There are lots of ways to start seeds indoors and I’ve received and read so much conflicting information that eventually I just took the plunge for myself, resigned to the fact that this was going to be a learning experience.

What’s Next?

Next up for my foray into gardening: construct the bed and mix the planting medium, which are steps I’ll be sharing with you in future weeks. Please follow along for weekly progress and let me hear about your garden, too!