Planning a vegetable garden

Planning a vegetable garden for best returns is a hot topic that we will discuss on this page. We will list criteria for plants selection and compile the list of the best plants to grow in your raised bed vegetable garden. I hope you will contribute to our collective wisdom, and share a list of your vegetable garden favorites and vegetable garden tips with me and the readers of this site here (no login required) here.


Cost of healthy food is on the rise, and so is the amount of reports about detrimental health impacts of pesticides and chemicals used on vegetables available through non-organic food supply. Growing your own food is one of the best ways to protect the health of your family. Even if you can afford to buy everything organic and local, your own garden is still the best way to deliver maximum vitamins and minerals to your dinner table with little or no harmful substances in them.


Strategy for starting a vegetable garden

  1. Make a list of plants to grow

    Looking back, I made a mistake of going to the store and selecting plants without firm plan in my hands. Once I bought too many plants, and had to give some of them away. Another time I forgot to buy parsley – a must have plant for my cooking. You will save time and money if you start with creating your own list, even an imperfect one.

  2. Improve and refine your list

    To maximize your return, consider herbs and vegetables that meet the following criteria:

    • Expensive plants that are easy to grow
    • Cohabit well
    • Protect each other ( natural pest control)
    • Plants are in the top most polluted list ( pesticides)
    • Versatile: both decorative and edible
    • Useful in cooking.

  3. Decide how many plants to buy

    To evaluate amount of plants, think how much you use them in your cooking and whether you will be able to preserve them if your small vegetable garden produces too much.

  4. Growing from seed?

    This is the cheapest way of growing a vegetable garden. I intentionally omit this topic as it adds complexity to the daunting task that a first time gardener faces. You have to get a starter kit, calculate time to start, and consider germination time. I recommend to buy plants when starting a vegetable garden, and start growing them from seeds on your second year.

  5. Care for the looks?

    If you have an appreciation for good design, you can incorporate your vegetable garden into a theme. We have built a paradise at the back of our house - a place where we can both grow food and enjoy our ecologically landscaped environment. Check out landscaping blogs for good backyard design ideas. A good landscaper can help you design your new garden, help you choose the right plants that will co-exist with your vegetables, and teach you about winter plant protection.

List of the best plants to grow in your 4x4 or 4x8 vegetable garden

Using a list of best plants to grow in your raised vegetable garden, compiled by the experienced gardeners or people with similar preferences in cooking, is one of the smartest vegetable garden ideas. Jonathan White, the author of the Ecological Gardening method, has a whole chapter, dedicated to plant selection, in his book . If you don’t feel like buying his e-book, you can still benefit from the opinion shared on internet for free.

I am a firm believer in using herbs in cooking, and herbs are easy to use when they grow on your backyard. You are much more likely to venture in preparing new interesting meals when you have all the ingredients handy. They are organic, have maximum vitamin content and are readily available. You will see a lot of herbs in my list.

So let’s start with my list

  1. Russian and Dinosaur Kale– absolute nutrition champion, beautiful, easy to grow, expensive in organic stores
  2. Rainbow Swiss chard – vitamin providing and beautiful looking greens
  3. Lettuces-entices you to eat more salad; the most polluted by pesticides when bought at the store
  4. Heirloom tomatoes – early, mid-season and late varieties for salads and salsa; grows vertically and saves space
  5. Green onion – widely used; “over-pesticided” ; provides natural pest control
  6. Chives – great variation of garlic taste, “over-pesticided” ; provides natural pest control
  7. Basil – great health benefits, a part of many vegetarian meals; protects tomatoes from pests – one of the best herbs to grow with tomatoes
  8. Parsley – great health benefits and use in home cosmetics due to its anti-aging effect on skin
  9. Oregano- powerful antioxidant and great addition to pizzas, sauces, soups and stews
  10. Sage – antibacterial use; main component of vegetarian boullion cubes; beautiful; attracts butterflies and bumble bees to the garden
  11. Marjoram – used in cooking, need very little amount of it; easy to grow, decorative and edible
  12. Thyme – used in cooking a lot; health benefits and very undemanding plant
  13. Celery - widely used plant from top ten polluted list
  14. Stevia – nice looking plant; its leaves are a natural sugar replacement

    Other plants to consider:

  15. Cilantro ( coriander) - re-seeds itself, low maintenance, delicious
  16. Dill - doesn’t cohabit with many other plants well
  17. Thai basil – if you like thai cousine that is
  18. Mint - for tea and salads; plant in the pot as it is very invasive
  19. Chili and cayenne peppers – easy to grow, high produce, but if you don’t eat a lot of those , you may end up , like myself, still chewing on my harvest from four years ago ?

    What are the plants you grow and why?

    Are they easy to grow? How do you use them? Are there plants that you would never grow again?

    Share your vegetable garden tips and successes here (no login required) :

    What Other Visitors Have Said

    Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page...

    It's Easy to Grow Celery 
    For the past several years I have grown Celery in my Herb garden. I find it very easy to grow. I buy a flat of them (6 in a pk), early in the season. …

    Hi from the UK You say tom-ay-toes, we say tom-art-oes, but however we pronounce them, they taste fantastic. We have a tiny walled garden, and all …

    These are so easy to grow. There is nothing, I repeat nothing like the taste of a pea straight from the pod. Every child on the planet deserves the …

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Return Home from Planning a vegetable garden

Check out Best ways to start raised bed vegetable garden: SFG vs.EcoGardening
Go to the review of SFG method:Why grow healthy food
Go to top healthy food list to choose what to grow

Read seven reasons to start growing kale
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