Designing the Vegetable Garden: How to Make a Garden Map

Landscaping, weedwhacker,

If you have begun working on how to make a garden, you may feel a bit overwhelmed at the sheer amount of information, options, and how to keep track of it all. That?s where this garden map comes in handy! It?s a simple visual tool that will work for newbie gardeners and master gardeners alike.

The first step in starting a vegetable garden, or any garden really, is to write out a plan. The plan can be anything from a few Post It notes on a seed catalog to a computerized garden map.

I like to create something in between: a hand-drawn map of the garden beds with the planting plan. This garden map is a great tool to help you fully plan out your garden to maximize its space and get the best possible vegetable harvest.

vegetable garden map

Why Should I Use a Garden Map?

If you have a vegetable garden, a garden map is a must each year. It will help you determine how many seeds and plants you will need and where you should plant each of them. It also will help you keep track of what you will be producing year round and allow you to group similar harvest seasons together.

Typically, the vegetable garden needs to be planned out each year. Vegetables are annuals (for the most part) and when they reach maturity we eat them, so they need to be planted every year. Plus, each year our garden grows and changes and we need to keep up with it!

There are so many factors to where, when, and how you plant the different vegetables, that a map is the best way to keep you on track. When to start seeds, whether or not to start them outdoors, when to transplant seedlings, good plant companions, and crop rotation are all things to think about when designing a garden plan.

This is a good activity to do in late winter when you?ve got spring on the brain. I find it gets me in the gardening spirit while it is still snowy and cold outside. While it is great for vegetables, you can follow similar steps for a brand new garden or a major garden transformation. Here are the steps that I use for my mapping process.

(If you need help building garden beds then .)

Blank zoning map to use in an at-home garden

How to Make a Garden Map

Ready to get started? I?ll walk you through each step so you can learn how to make a garden plan with ease!

Map Out Your Garden Space

Measure your vegetable garden and draw a garden map to scale 1? representing 1? in the garden. Draw in any obstacles that you will have to contend with like posts, irrigation heads, or other structures you need to work within the garden.

Label north on the map and watch the sun over the course of a few days to get a sense of what the light will be like. Remember that the sun in the summer and fall will be in different positions in the sky. Trees will leaf out and create shade, buildings may create more or less shade sails nets_2465 as the sun moves.

If this is your first year mapping your garden, make notes in a gardening journal throughout the year as to how the light will fall. Here is my garden helper coloring in the sun and shade while we plan over a coffee date.

Child designing a map for gardening

Create Your Wish List

Grab some seed catalogs and write down all of the vegetables, fruits, and herbs that you want to grow. Now, look up each of them in a seed catalog written for your area. You may find that some of your top choices are not even for sale in your area. Sadly, this is because not every veggie can grow in every climate. You will need to stick to what you can grow, so cross those off the list.

Look at the number of days until harvest and do the math. Some vegetables need a really long growing season and if cool fall weather comes before the harvest date, you may never even taste the fruits of your labor. Think about requirements like plant size at maturity, spacing needs, and shade/sun requirements to further refine your list.

You may also be able to have multiple crops in one season! There are some for early crops as well as . Consider grouping these vegetables together to get multiple harvests from a single area in one season.

The other thing I think about when creating my vegetable garden seed list is cost and availability of the vegetables. I choose heirloom seed varieties, rare colors, and expensive-to-buy produce to grow in my home garden.

In the winter, I also like to take an inventory of the previous season?s harvest. I look at which vegetables did well and which ones did I wish I had more of. This way I can be sure my garden is even more successful the following year when I map it out. I also note which vegetables did not perform well and see whether or not I should try and grow them again or move them to a new location.

West Coast Seeds Catalog for Garden Planning

Add Plants to Your Garden Map

Use pencil so you can easily move plants to new spaces or add more. Our vegetable garden is a small area that has four planters, two on the ground and two in the sky in a vertical planting system. To determine what plants went into the beds I looked at the location and amount of shade. I planned for root vegetables and plants with deep roots in the two beds that are on the ground. Shallow rooted plants when in the upper planters. I also make sure to note vertical vegetables such as tomatoes or peas. They will need additional support and may eventually cause shade to lower growing plants later in the season.

Finally, put pen to paper and mark the final location of your vegetables. This plan may change as the season goes by. Mark those changes, and anything that you noticed throughout the year right on your garden map. It will be a great starting point for next year, and a memento of your garden for years to come.

Make sure you put your map somewhere for safe keeping. Make notes on what worked and what didn?t work so you can plan again better next year. Saving your map for future reference can be an immense help!

vegetable garden plan with seed packets

Garden Map Tips

When mapping, I like to use square foot gardening. If you have uniquely-shaped garden beds like I do, then square foot planting will be a very helpful tool. Mark each square foot on the garden map, then you can determine how many plants of each type can go in each square. Some vegetables like cabbage and cauliflower require at least a square to themselves, but others like carrots can squeeze 12-16 plants into a square. There is a .

That being said, get creative with your space! As I mentioned earlier, I primarily grow my vegetables in pots and containers and . Don?t just think of traditional vegetable beds. Anyone can benefit from a garden map, especially those with small and uniquely shaped gardens.

You may also want to consider crop rotation for your garden. Plants that belong to the same family tend to use the same nutrients in the soil. Planting the same vegetables year after year in the same area can deplete the soil. Similar plant families include alliums, Solanaceae, brassica, cucurbit, and legume families. When doing your planting research, make a note of what family it belongs to. Keeping your map is especially helpful in keeping track of crop rotation year after year.

How to map your garden

More Gardening Posts to Read

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Looking for a simple way to gift yourself with some self-care? These lavender and cocoa butter bath melts will leave your skin feeling silky smooth while also providing you with aromatherapy benefits. Double a batch and gift some to a friend so she can enjoy these too!

Lavender & Cocoa Butter Bath Melts

Add a little luxury to the bath with these moisturizing cocoa butter bath melts. They are made with ingredients so natural that you could eat them, and you might just want to! The aroma of cocoa, coconut, and lavender makes my mouth water for what is essentially a gourmet truffle. These truffles, however, are best used in the bath, as the silky soft oils melt in the warm water and soak into your skin, leaving it moisturized and soft.

What are Bath Melts?

After a long day, I like to take some time to myself and give my body a break. A bath is a time for self-love and relaxation, soothing aching, and tired muscles. I never have one without adding a little bit of something extra.

I have found myself reaching for bath melts more in the winter months as my skin gets dry. Bath melts are a luxurious way to moisturize skin and keep it soft. Made of moisturizing body butters, you pop one in the bath and watch them melt into the water. Then, your skin soaks up the oils and from the butters and softens, allowing you to sit and relax in the aromatherapy provided by lavender.

I like to use a bath melt when I think my skin needs some extra love and attention. For dry and overworked skin, you can skip taking the time to lotion up your body after the bath. You get two for one with a bath melt!

bath melts made with cocoa butter and dried lavender in a wooden bowl

Why Cocoa Butter is Your Skin?s Best Friend

Cocoa butter is the edible fat extracted from the cocoa bean and the main ingredient in chocolate. In fact, the flavor and aroma of chocolate comes from the cocoa butter and true chocolate can only be called by that name if it contains 100% rich, smooth cocoa butter.

While used to make tasty desserts, cocoa butter is also a prominent ingredient in skin care. It is also full of antioxidants and is so good at moisturizing skin that it is very often used in skincare products. High in fatty acids it helps to nourish the skin and improve elasticity. The fats create a protective barrier over the skin, helping to really lock in that moisture. Some people have also used cocoa butter to help smooth scars, wrinkles, and stretch marks.

When my skin is feeling dry, these bath melts are the first thing I reach for. At room temperature it is solid but as you add it to a hot bath it melts and the oil disperses into the water and absorbs into your skin while you soak.

What About the Lavender and Coconut Oil?

The other half of the moisturizing duo of these bath melts is coconut oil! Coconut oil is made from extracting oil from raw coconuts or coconut kernels. Super rich in saturated fats, it is known to help improve overall moisture content of dry skin and can help to reduce eczema symptoms.

The fatty acids also have antimicrobial properties which makes it safe for skin infections like athletes foot, acne, cellulitis, and other bacterial infections.

Ingredients for making bath melts - silicone mold, cocoa butter, and dried lavender

While super moisturizing, there are also some aromatherapy benefits to these bath melts as well. Lavender is always a favourite with me when it comes to bath time. It is the perfect relaxation herb, promoting calmness, easing stress, and providing anxiety relief. If you like to take a bath before bed, lavender has always worked as a wonderful way to ease me into a sleepy mood.

All together, cocoa butter, coconut oil, and lavender create the perfect combination for a relaxing hydrating bath melt.

How to Make Bath Melts

If you are looking for a way to inject a little more self-care into your routine or know of someone who could use some pampering, then make up a batch of these luxurious bath melts and turn a hot bath into a heavenly treat.

Materials

Makes 12 bath melts

  • 55 g
  • 2 tablespoons
  • 20 drops
  • 1 tablespoon
  • Spatula
  •  to use as a mold

Make it!

Melt the oils in the small pot over medium low heat. Stir constantly and keep a watchful eye on the oils. You want them to just reach the melting point and not overheat.turkish coffee pot next to a silicone mold

When the oils have melted and combined, add the essential oils and stir well.

Immediately pour into silicone molds. I used a silicone ice cube tray but a candy mold will also work. A small pot with a pour spout makes this job a lot easier. I use for all of my natural skincare recipes because it is small but tall, has a long handle to keep your hands away from hot oils, and has a spout which makes pouring much easier.

dried lavender in a jar

Sprinkle dried lavender buds on top of the hot oil, dividing the tablespoon up evenly between the bath melts.

Move the silicone mold to the refrigerator to cool for two hours, and you?re done. Store the finished bath melts in the fridge or a cool place if your house is warm so that they don?t melt before you want to use them!lavender and cocoa butter bath melts

Pop one or two bath melts into a tub filled with hot water and soak for at least twenty minutes.

A word of caution: the oils will make your bathtub slippery after you drain it. Be careful when stepping out of the tub. After your soak, be sure to give it a quick clean and wipe so it?s safe and ready to go for the next person.

For many, many more natural skincare recipes and gift ideas, check out !

More Skincare Recipes:

Lavender and Cocoa Butter Bath Melts

Moisturize your skin with luxurious cocoa butter and soak in the aromatherapy of calming lavender during your next bath.

Equipment

  • Turkish Coffee Pot
  • Spatula
  • Silicone ice cube tray to use as a mold

Supplies

  • 55 g
  • 1 tbsp
  • 20 drops
  • 1 tbsp

Instructions

  • Melt the oils in the small pot over medium low heat. Stir constantly and keep a watchful eye on the oils. You want them to just reach the melting point and not overheat.
  • When the oils have melted and combined, add the essential oils and stir well.
  • Immediately pour into silicone molds. I used a silicone ice cube tray but a candy mold will also work. A small pot with a pour spout makes this job a lot easier. I use a Turkish coffee pot.
  • Sprinkle dried lavender buds on top of the hot oil, dividing the tablespoon up evenly between the bath melts.
  • Move the silicone mold to the refrigerator to cool for two hours, and you?re done. Store the finished bath melts in the fridge or a cool place if your house is warm so that they don?t melt before you want to use them!
  • Pop one or two bath melts into a tub filled with hot water and soak for at least twenty minutes.
  • The oils will make your bathtub slippery after you drain it. Be careful when stepping out of the tub. After your soak, be sure to give it a quick clean and wipe so it's safe and ready to go for the next person.

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