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Planning an Organic Vegetable, Herb, and Flower Garden

I am so excited to start my first ever garden this year! In the past, I’ve grown a few flowers from seed with mixed results and did some flower transplants. So, this is a new game for me. Initially I thought I would try to grow ten herbs and vegetables—that seemed like a good number to get my feet wet. Enter the Southern Exposure Seed Exchange catalogue (great for Mid-Atlantic growers) and the Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds catalogue (fruits and veggies have never seemed so sexy and luscious as they do in this book), and a seed exchange. I decided to only purchase seeds that are not genetically modified organisms (GMO), so those two companies were great choices. I ended up buying all of my seeds from Southern Exposure because they are more local to me, but I did buy some Baker’s Creek and Botanical Interests seeds at Merrifield Garden Center, and from a seed exchange I ended up with some Johnny’s Select Seeds, Seeds of Change, and Burpee.

I now have the seeds for 28 veggies (some are technically fruits), herbs, and some companion flowers. So much for ten! Here’s the list:




Sweet Genovese



Bush Bean

Blue Lake 274

Bush Bean



Scarlet Nantes







Beginner’s Mix

Green Onion

Evergreen Bunching

Ground Cherries

Cossack Pineapple


French Purple Ribbon

Lettuce, Mesclun

Lettuce, Romaine

Parris Island Cos


African Crackerjack


Jewel, mixed color






Mitsuba, Japanese

Pepper, Bell

California Wonder

Pepper, Jalapeno

Peppers, Sweet

Carnival Mix


Small Sugar






Cherokee Purple


Roma VF, VA select

I have been reading blogs (the author of The Dirty Radish has been immensely helpful to me and even had me over to see her garden and eat some tasty treats and organized a seed exchange), reading books, cross-referencing, building spreadsheets, taking note of the sunlight at various locations each hour, etc. in preparation. It has been pretty overwhelming, but the plan is finally starting to come together.

One thing I wanted to do was capitalize on the benefits of companion planting—planting things together that are mutually beneficial. Since this will be an organic garden, I’d like to give the plants every benefit possible when it comes to pests, fertilization, healthy soil, etc.


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Since we don’t know what the light at the house is like in the summer, I’ve decided to do three
4 foot by 4 foot beds in different places in the yard that all seem to get ample sunlight, but we’re unsure of what will happen to that light when the surrounding trees get leaves. I am still working out the last details of the other two beds, but the plan for the south bed is complete (until a more experienced gardener tells me otherwise). You will notice that this is not a traditional row garden; this is a square foot garden.

(Click to open a larger image)

This first year, the garden might save us a little money. But, everything but the seeds is a one-time cost (and the seeds could be, if I gather them at the end of the season) and we’ll have enough homemade compost by next year to enrich the soil without purchasing fertilizers. In future years, we hope to save lots of money.

Our start up costs:

  • $30 for used tools found on Craigslist. Gloves were a gift.
  • $55 in heirloom seeds (supplemented with seeds from seed exchange)
  • $60 in seed-starting gear (purchased two sets containing growing flat, base tray, and dome; bought one heat mat and received another as a gift. Received a used grow light as a gift; any additional growing containers will be made from repurposed items)
  • $60 est. in wood for the raised beds ($20 for each 4×4 bed, I am doing three)
  • $150 est. for planting material (peat moss, compost, and vermiculite)
  • We will water the garden from rain barrels, which were a gift.

So, $355. We spent $318 at the farmer’s market last year (May-October), but that amount includes some cheese and buffalo meat. Hopefully this year our summer diet will be very plant-based and gardening will save us money at the grocery store on non-plant foods. Plus, we will surely dry, freeze, or can some of our produce to use off-season.


About More Green for Less Green

Hi, I’m Pamm. Welcome to my little slice of the web! As both a pastor and crunchy homeschooling mom, I’m never quite what anyone expects of me. But, hey, that’s what makes blogging interesting, right? Join me as I try to wholeheartedly parent my three little boys, slowly fix up the trashed foreclosure we bought in 2009, and live simply.

{ 1 comment… add one }

  • Liz February 22, 2010, 3:48 pm

    Cherokee Purple tomatoes are the best! We only had one transplant of that species last year (we tried four varieties total), which produced a lot of tomatoes, but I want to plant at least two this year! They are amazing. Love your garden plans, they look great. I can’t wait for spring!

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