Follow these plans for a no-fail vegetable garden that will provide fresh produce from spring to fall. Continue plantings to increase your garden's bounty and extend your harvest.

By Jenny Krane; Illustrations by HELEN SMYTHE

Planning a vegetable garden and successfully harvesting your own produce is easy with this three-season plan for a raised bed vegetable garden. The layout of a vegetable garden can make or break its success, so it's important to do it right. Follow the planting plans an checklists for each season so you can enjoy a fruitful vegetable garden from early spring into fall.

Plant for a Spring Harvest

Start in early spring to grow your own produce. Call your local county extension office or garden center to find out your area's average last spring frost date. You may leave part of the garden unplanted so it's ready for warm weather veggies later.

Early Spring: Plant 4 weeks before the last frost date. Sow seeds for early-spring vegetables directly into soil. We recommend you plant a few transplants for an earlier harvest. When planting seeds, sow them more thickly than recommended; use scissors when plants are a couple of inches tall to thin plants to the recommended number.

A. 8 butterhead lettuce

B. 8 leaf lettuce

C. 16 carrot

D. 6 cilantro or dill

E. 2 broccoli

F. 1 cabbage

H. 12 snow peas (plant in a circle around a tall tomato cage or trellis)

I. 4 spinach

J. 2 parsley

K. 8 onion

L. 16 radish

M. 4 Swiss chard or kale

Spring Checklist

  • Keep the seedbed moist (but not muddy) so the tiny plants don't dry out after they've sprouted. Water with a gentle spray.
  • Support your snow peas with a tomato cage or trellis.
  • Pull weeds as soon as you spot them.
  • Use a bale of clean straw, a bag of last fall's chopped leaves, grass clippings, or other forms of an organic mulch on your garden. Apply a 2-inch layer of mulch around young plants, but don't cover the seeds you just planted or they won't grow.

Plant for a Summer Harvest

After the last frost date, when the days and the soil are warmer, plant summer-yielding, warm-weather-loving vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers, and green beans. Herbs grow well now, too.

Late Spring: Plant these vegetables in late spring 2 weeks after the last frost date.

Transplant Tips: Some veggies need space, and indeterminate tomatoes require a large tomato cage. Summer squash, cucumbers, and pole beans can all be grown on a 6-foot trellis at the edge of the garden. Be sure they don't shade other plants.

A. 8 bush green beans

B. 8 carrots

C. 1 cherry tomato (try 'Husky Cherry Red' or 'Patio')

D. 1 cabbage (not yet harvested from early spring)

E. 1 salad tomato (try 'Rutgers' or 'Better Bush')

F. 12 snow peas (not yet harvested from early spring)

G. 1 sweet pepper (try 'Gypsy Hybrid,' 'California Wonder,' 'Albino,' or 'Bell Boy')

H. 2 parsley

I. 8 onion

J. 4 basil

K. 4 Swiss chard or kale

Summer Checklist

  • Use mulch around your vegetables, particularly the tomatoes, to keep the soil moist and to reduce weed problems.
  • Stake or cage tomatoes, even if you have chosen smaller, determinate varieties that produce at the same time. Put the stakes or cages in place immediately after planting so the plant is supported as it grows. Peppers often require support, too.
  • Visit your garden for a few minutes each day. The soil can be dry on the top, but don't let it get so dry that plants wilt.

Plant for a Fall Harvest

Once the days become cooler, those cool-weather-loving crops can become part of your garden again. Do continue harvesting tomatoes, peppers, and beans.

Late Summer: Plant these vegetables in mid- to late-summer, 8 weeks before the first average fall frost date.

Garden Planning: Fall gardens are often overlooked by gardeners who have planted such a large spring garden that it becomes difficult to keep up with over the season. With a manageable plan like this one, you have time and energy to continue planting and extend your harvest through fall.

A. 1 cabbage

B. 12 bush green beans

C. 16 carrot

D. 4 broccoli

F. 1 cherry tomato

G. 1 salad tomato

H. 4 spinach

I. 1 sweet pepper

J. 2 parsley

K. 2 dill

L. 4 cilantro

M. 4 basil

N. 4 Swiss chard or kale

Fall Checklist

  • Renew the mulch around your plants as needed. Continue the daily visits to your garden to harvest and weed. Even though it's fall, watch for warm windy days that can quickly dry out a vegetable patch. You may need to water twice a day if it's windy.
  • Watch for damaging insects. Your garden is small enough that it's easy to handpick and crush most of them when you spot them.
  • After the first frost, remove the dead plants and spread an inch of compost or composted manure over the bed. Your garden will be ready for you again in spring.

Comments (3)

May 6, 2018
I am going to send this to a relative in middle, TN. They have been talking about raised beds but not sure how to start, then keep it going. They will be very pleased!! Thanx!raf
May 5, 2018
I would also like to know substitutes for some of the vegetables. My family doesn't eat chard for example. What other options would be a good choice for that area?
May 5, 2018
This article is very interesting and informative. The only thing missing is the approximate size of the raised garen.