Space is at a premium for many gardeners, but with careful planning you can have a fruitful garden no matter the size. Here you’ll find plans for all seasons to give you some ideas for your garden.
April 16, 2013
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Garden Bed Designs
The plans shared over the next few slides were designed for 4 x 8–foot beds that can take you from cool to warm season. The plant combinations are flexible and meant to serve as a guide to help you get started. Follow these specifications exactly or customize your garden to suit your taste buds by planting any of the recommended substitutes.
Bed 1: Cool Season
A semi-permanent tepee constructed of three to four vertical stakes made of bamboo, spiral stakes, or rebar provides support for vining plants season after season. Wrap the tepee with twine to give the plants horizontal supports on which to climb.
Sugar snap peas (1): Substitute green peas or snow peas.
Lettuce (3): Substitute carrots, radishes, dill, parsley, or cilantro.
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Bed 1: Warm Season
This bed shows a variety of plants, but if your family doesn’t care for one of the vegetables or herbs shown, feel free to make substitutions.
Cherry tomatoes (1): The plant has rambling vines that bear fruit all summer. Training the vines around the tepee and not just up the legs of the support will help handle the plant’s vigorous growth. You can also tame unruly vines by pruning them midsummer.
Peppers: Plant any variety you like, including serrano, cayenne (2), bell (3), habanero, jalapeño, and Thai chile. If your plants grow large, add a tomato cage for additional support.
Lemon thyme (4) and chives (5): Th ese are perennial herbs that, once planted, will carry through from season to season unless they’re transplanted to another location.
Eggplant (6) and basil (7): Plant any varieties you like.
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Bed 2: Warm Season
Corn (1): Plant in a block of four rows by four rows for the best pollination.
Squash (2): Substitute crookneck, straightneck, zucchini, or pattypan squash.
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Bed 2: Cool Season
Kale (1): Substitute collards, broccoli, cauliflower, or Brussels sprouts.
Garlic (2): Substitute onions.
Arugula (3): Substitute lettuce or other salad greens. Stagger planting one corner every few weeks for a continuous harvest.
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Bed 3: Cool Season
This bed features a raised diamond-shaped bed in the center, which is intended to be elevated with additional timbers to create deeper soil.
Broccoli (1): Substitute cauliflower, cabbage, kale, or collards.
Carrots (2): Substitute radishes, parsley, or arugula.
Green (3) and red (4) lettuces: Substitute leaf lettuce, romaine, or a mix of different types.
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Bed 3: Warm Season
Sunflowers and pole beans (1): In the summer, plant the center section with sunflowers. After they reach 3 to 4 feet tall, sow pole bean seeds at the base of the stalks, using the sunflowers as a homegrown trellis.
Bush cucumbers (2): Substitute summer squash or bush-type watermelons.
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Bed 4: Cool Season
This traditional row-type layout lends itself to a variety of options.
Swiss chard: The red (2) and yellow (3) varieties shown in this design make a pretty contrast to the blue-green of the cauliflower in the center of the bed. Substitute Asian greens, such as pak choi or bok choy.
Radishes (4) and dill (5): Radishes grow quickly, which means you can replant as soon as they’re harvested and get in a few plantings each season. Substitute cilantro or parsley for both the dill and the radishes, if you like.
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Bed 4: Warm Season
Tomatoes (1): Three tomatoes grown in cages give you an opportunity to try a few different varieties. Choose three options for variety in color and timing so you’ll have tomato-y goodness all season long. Determinate varieties are recommended for these smaller tomato cages, but if you prefer indeterminate tomatoes, use two large cages that are 3 feet in diameter and 6 feet tall. They’ll need to be made of sturdy wire fencing with openings large enough for you to reach through. Be sure to anchor these larger cages by tying them to rebar hammered into the soil.
Watermelon (2): Unlike the bush type, vine watermelon needs room to ramble. Plant just one, and train the vines to cover the bed rather than the path around the bed. Substitute pumpkins, winter squash, or melons.
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For containers, a grouping of three or more pots of differing sizes is a great way to get a variety of produce from a limited amount of space. A good base will include a large urn with lots of room for roots, accompanied by an 18- to 24-inch pot and a smaller 12- to 14-inch pot. Choose lighter-weight material for those placed on a patio or balcony, which may not be able to handle the weight of heavier containers.
Containers: Warm Season
Tomatoes (1): Plant tomatoes in a larger urn, and choose varieties bred for containers, such as Patio or Sweet ‘N’ Neat, which can be grown without support. You can also plant a determinate (Better Bush, Bush Early Girl, Bush Goliath) or dwarf indeterminate (Husky Cherry Red) that can be supported using a tomato cage or homemade tepee. If you have an area next to a railing or fence that gets adequate sunlight, you’ll have more options because the vines can use it for support.
Zucchini (2): One plant can be quite prolific in an 18- to 24-inch pot. Substitute crookneck, straightneck, or pattypan squash.
Chives (3): Perennial herbs such as chives or thyme can remain in a small pot year-round. Substitute creeping thyme or Spicy Globe basil.
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Containers: Cool Season
If the plants don’t live through the winter, replant them again in early spring before the last frost.
Kale (1): Substitute cabbage, broccoli, mustard greens, cauliflower, or Brussels sprouts.
Lettuce (2): Potted lettuce won’t provide endless salads, but it’s ideal to supplement store-bought greens and provide enough for sandwiches.
Cilantro (3): Substitute parsley, chives, or dill.
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Potted herbs are ideal for those who’d like year-round seasoning at their door.
Rosemary (1): A large urn is perfect for a large plant like rosemary. This woody shrub is cold-tender and better suited for gardeners in warmer states, although it will tolerate temperatures in the 20s without a problem. Choose a cold-hardy variety, such as Hill Hardy and Arp, for those areas where temperatures dip into the teens. Until the rosemary grows large, creeping thyme (2) can be planted on the sunny side (south or west) of the pot to trail over the edge.
Basil (3): Plant basil in an 18- to 24-inch pot. This annual is only perennial in gardens that are frost-free. Plant any variety you’d like.
Parsley (4): Plant parsley in a small pot. Substitute chives, creeping thyme, or mint.