Archive for the ‘Lawn & Garden’ Category

How to Lay Out a Vegetable Garden

Monday, March 22nd, 2021

Is there anything more satisfying and delicious than growing your own food? From the first tender tips of asparagus in spring to the tasty tang of summer’s homegrown tomatoes, a garden filled with beautiful, productive plants provides a terrific sense of accomplishment—and fabulous, fresh meals. In order to grow such an amazing harvest, though, it’s important to figure out the best layout for your space and the plants you want to grow. Here’s how to lay out a vegetable garden:

1. Select Your Site

To begin, take stock of your potential growing space. Consider these elements:

Where do you get the most sun? Many vegetables require 6 to 8 hours of sunlight a day. Note that the south, east, and west sides of your home will get more sun than the north.

Is there a spot near the house? If you lay out your vegetable garden near an entrance way, you’ll pass it often. That way, it’s more likely that you’ll notice when watering is needed or pests invade

Is there already a lot of vegetation around? If there is a large number of shrubs or trees, they will compete with your garden not only for nutrients and moisture in the soil, but also for sunlight. Be sure to steer clear of walnut trees, which produce a toxin that’s harmful to vegetable plants.

How far away is the water? Make certain that the space you select for your vegetable garden layout provides easy access to a water source. Do that and you won’t have to schlep a hose or heavy watering can all over the yard.

How much space do you need? While having a huge garden may sound like a great idea, it can also be overwhelming if you’re a new gardener. It’s better to start small, with a few raised beds or containers, then add to your vegetable garden plan each year.

2. List What You Love How to Lay Out a Vegetable Garden

Are you a culinary master, hoping to grow a rainbow of heirloom tomatoes for fabulous meals? Do you adore Brussels sprouts but despise collards? Before you purchase any plants, create a list of the vegetables you love, then allocate space in your vegetable garden layout to grow them.

Be sure to include space-saving trellises to support vining veggies like cucumbers and peas, and if perennial plants like asparagus and strawberries top your favorite foods list, consider creating a permanent plot for them to grow.

3. Lay Out Your Garden on Paper

Although it may give you an unwelcome flashback to geometry class, graph paper really is your friend when creating a vegetable garden layout. By putting your garden on paper before you lift a shovel, you’ll save time—and avoid potential mistakes.

First, take a photo of your garden area and measure its approximate size. Using a ratio of 1 foot = 1 box on the graph paper, sketch the beds and containers you plan to use, leaving enough space between them to push a wheelbarrow. Limit the width of each vegetable bed to 3 to 4 feet, so that you’ll be able to reach across the bed to plant, weed, or harvest without stepping onto the soil and compacting it.

4. Add Your Plants

Now, add the names of the plants you want to grow to the vegetable garden planner, making sure to leave enough space in between each one. (To find out how much space each plant requires, look for your favorite varieties here or find the info on our free app, Homegrown with Bonnie Plants.) Crowded plants have to compete for nutrients, sunlight, and water, so they’re not able to grow as big and strong as they otherwise would.

As a general rule, put tall veggies toward the back of the bed, mid-sized ones in the middle, and smaller plants in the front or as a border. Consider adding pollinator plants to attract beneficial insects that can not only help you get a better harvest, but will also prey on garden pests.

Also, if this isn’t your first garden, think about where you planted your veggies last year, then be sure to rotate them to different beds for the coming season to help prevent diseases and avoid plant-hungry pests that overwinter in the soil. (Learn more about crop rotation right here.)

5. Learn from Your Successes (and Failures)

Use your vegetable garden planner or Homegrown with Bonnie Plants app to make notes for next year’s garden. What tomato provided the tastiest BLT? What kind of plant proved most challenging to grow? Were there any drawbacks to the space you chose? Even a good vegetable garden layout can get better. Celebrate your delicious garden successes, then go ahead and tweak your layout to grow even more veggies next year.

This post was adapted from the bonnieplants website. Shop Bear Creek for all your planting and gardening needs! 

Top Seven Easy to Grow Vegetables

Monday, March 8th, 2021


Have you always wanted to grow a vegetable garden but are worried that it’s too tricky or time-consuming? Well, it’s time to your hands dirty, because with our handy list of seven easy to grow vegetables, you’ll be eating fresh garden-to-table meals in no time!

What Makes a Vegetable Easy to Grow? easy to grow vegetables

When you’re starting a vegetable garden, you want plants that perform well to boost your green-thumb confidence, right? While you might be excited to grow all the gorgeous heirloom tomatoes you see on Instagram, hold that thought—there’s plenty of time to branch out later. The goal of your first veggie garden is to grow crops successfully without spending tons of time, money, and effort, and it needs to be a fun, rewarding, tasty experience.

So, when planning your vegetable garden, pick plants that grow easily so you’ll enjoy the journey. Here are some characteristics of easy-to-grow vegetables:

  • They’re disease resistant. Healthy plants make hearty harvests, so choose veggies with good disease resistance. Look for plants that resist problems like powdery mildew, fusarium wilt, verticillium wilt, and scab, for instance. When you choose Bonnie Plants®, you’ll find information on the plant’s tag about disease resistance.
  • They’re compact. Sometimes, smaller is better, especially if you garden in containers. However, even in a backyard veggie garden, compact varieties can make your gardening easier. Growing “dwarf” or “bush” versions of tomatoes, squash, or cucumbers helps you avoid having to trellis or stake your plants. Plus, you’ll fit more varieties into your space.
  • They’re frost tolerant. Some veggies need the heat of summer to thrive, turning to mush at the first frost. Others, though, can take a chill—and even taste sweeter when kissed by the cold. Planting cool-season crops (think lettuce, kale, and other greens, broccoli, cabbage, root veggies) helps extend the growing period and keeps your dinner plate loaded with delicious, fresh food, even on chilly days.
  • They’re slow to bolt. In case you’re new to vegetable growing, “bolting” refers to when a plant begins to send up flowers once daylight lengthens. Often, when bolting occurs, the flavor of the plant turns bitter and unappealing. Some newer veggie varieties are bred to be slow to bolt, extending harvest time into the warmer months.
  • They’re hybrids. Hybrids combine the best traits of parent plants. Plant breeders look at things like flavor, productivity, disease resistance, and size, then intentionally cross-pollinate different varieties to produce new (often easier to grow) veggies. Learn more about hybrids right here.

Top 7 Easy-to-Grow Vegetables

Now that you know what traits to look for when selecting veggies, give these a try in your garden.

Cool Season Veggies to Plant in Spring and Fall

  • Kale. Kale grows easily in raised beds, in-ground, or containers, plus it looks lovely planted alongside cool season flowers like violas or pansies. Discover how to grow kale.
  • Swiss chard. If you love quiches and casseroles, add Swiss chard to your list. While it’s a cool season veggie, it continues growing well even in warmer weather. Plus, Swiss chard (which tastes a bit like spinach) is so pretty that you’ll want to show it off—Bright Lights Swiss chard, for example, livens up garden beds and containers with a rainbow of cheerful stems and leaves. Find out how to grow Swiss chard.
  • Lettuce. Growing lettuce makes great sense, as it provides a fairly quick reward for your efforts. For the easiest and most long-lasting lettuce crops, plant leaf lettuce instead of heading lettuce—that way, you can snip outer leaves as you need them while letting the rest of the plant continue to grow. Get expert tips on growing lettuce.
  • Peas. Crunchy and delicious, peas are multi-purpose plants: The pea pod, tendrils, and flowers are all edible. Sugar snap-style peas, in particular, give you lots of options, as you can harvest them while young and flat to eat like snow peas, wait for them to fill out so you can eat the pod with peas inside, or wait until they mature into shelling peas. While these are fairly compact plants, adding a trellis makes harvests easier. Learn to grow your own peas.
  • Radishes. If you like almost-instant gratification, you’ll love growing radishes, because they’re ready to harvest in as few as 3 weeks. Plus, because they don’t require a lot of space, you can plant these crunchy root crops in between lettuce varieties or as a border for a bed of kale. There are loads of colors and shapes to try, including pinks, purples, elongated ones, and round ones. The French Breakfast radish is a classic variety that performs well.

Warm Season Veggies to Plant in Late Spring and Early Summer

  • Cherry Tomatoes. There’s a good reason tomatoes are the number one homegrown food, as they taste amazing fresh from the garden. Big, vining tomato varieties can be tricky to grow for beginners, though. To make your life easier, choose a compact, hybrid, cherry-sized tomato variety like Husky Cherry Red. Meant for containers and small space gardens, many don’t need staking and have often been developed with impressive disease resistance. Here are two more to try: Red Robin Cherry Tomato grows only 18 inches tall but produces loads of sweet red fruit. Tumbling Tom Yellow Tomato is meant to be grown in a hanging basket or high container, with vines that cascade—so pretty! Let us help you grow tomatoes.
  • Peppers. Packing heat or super sweet, peppers provide another great, easy-to-grow option for your vegetable garden. Look for varieties that are hybrid (for disease resistance) and compact (to avoid the extra work of staking).  It’s time to grow some peppers.

Whatever vegetables you end up growing, you’ll get the best results if you start with great soil and don’t forget to regularly feed your plants. Choose premium quality garden soil, raised bed mix, container mix, and plant food, like those in the Miracle-Gro® Performance Organics® line. They help provide your plants with just the right growing environment and nutrition, using natural and organic ingredients.

So, there you go: seven super easy veggies to grow in your garden this year. But don’t stop there! There are plenty of wonderful, easy-to-grow herbs to spice up your homegrown meals, too, like oregano, basil, parsley, chives, and thyme. Before you know it, your friends and family will be asking you for hints on how to grow a great vegetable garden.

*This post was adapted from the bonnieplants website. Stop by Bear Creek’s Leonard store to pick up all you need for these easy to grow vegetables!