So you want to plant a garden of your own? Take a look at my post from yesterday, Garden Planning: Part One, and take note of some of the mistakes I've made. Don't make those.
My vegetable garden is a raised bed. While not necessary, it's easier to control the pH of your soil with a raised bed garden. I also like the way it looks relative to the rest of my landscaping. Depending on how raised your garden is, it can help to keep animals out. Mine isn't nearly high enough, and I shared my lettuce with a cute bunny all summer. I do have a plastic fence around the outside of the garden, but I'm not sure how much good that did.
To make a raised bed, you'll need wood. Do not buy pressure-treated wood or any other lumber treated with chemicals. This wood is going to be against your soil, and you really don't want chemicals leeching into your soil or groundwater. Even though you'll need to fix up your raised bed more often, you should go with untreated wood.
Before you shop for lumber, you'll need to decide how large you want your raised bed to be. When we moved into our house, there happened to be a pile of lumber in the yard that the previous owners had left behind. My garden became 8' by 10' as a result of the two 8' and two 10' boards I found.
I would very much suggest you make your raised bed deeper than the one I built (as you can see in the above photo, when it was still under construction, and only had one of its four fence-support posts). This year, I think I will add some wide boards to the outside of my frame, so the border is taller and I can add more dirt. As it was last year, all of my plants benefited from just a bit of fresh soil and ultimately grew down into the yard regardless.
Once you have assembled the frame of your raised bed, use a ruler to measure off every 12 inches, and mark these measurements with a pencil on the wood. Then, hammer a small nail into each place you've marked. Next, starting on one side of the garden, tie twine or yarn to the first nail. Walk across to the opposite side of the garden and tie the twine to the corresponding nail. Move on to the next nail, and continue in the same way until you have completed two of the four sides of your garden. (It should look like a square or rectangle with vertical lines running through it.) Repeat the tying of twine for the other two sides of the garden. This will yield a handy grid pattern that you can use to plan which seeds go where. (Also, when plants start to grow, you'll know exactly what should be in each square, and you can therefore determine if your sprouts are weeds or vegetables.)
To plan out my garden, I use this handy grid that I created:
I'd love to share this planning tool with you. It's available as a free download on the"Free Printables" page of the Sweet Frivolity website or by clicking above on the image of the planning grid. Check it out and let me know how you like it. And be sure to share photos of your raised bed garden! Spring will be here before we know it!