First, make a sketch of the garden area showing the dimensions of your garden beds. This can be done on a computer program or simply drawn out on graph paper.
Refer to your seed list and begin arranging the crops in the garden map. Use square foot garden spacing or the recommended space between plants indicated on the back of your seed package to estimate how many plants you can grow in an area.
Start plotting your garden with the crops you consider important. For example, tomatoes, peppers, onions, and garlic are very high value in our garden. These are plotted first on my garden map to ensure there is plenty of room to grow enough of these crops for preserving.
Remember to account for crop rotation and avoid planting the same plant families in the area they grew last year.
Move on to crops that need trellis supports to grow. Remember tall crops should grow on the north side of your beds, so they don’t shade other plants.
Plan out where you will grow your indeterminate tomatoes, cucumbers, pole beans, peas, and other crops that will benefit growing with supports.
Vining crops, such as squash, pumpkins, and melons will need plenty of room to sprawl. Be sure to locate these plants in an area where they can grow long vines without smothering other plants. I like to plant these along the edges of my garden beds and let the vines trail out into the paths if they need to.
Finally, fill in with short seasoned spring crops along with what will be succession planted in summer and fall once these crops are finished. For example, spinach, lettuce, and salad greens will grow in spring, and then replant the beds with bush beans when the spring crops are finished growing, followed by cool season crops again in fall.
Tuck in a few herbs and flowers where space allows, but avoid overcrowding your plants so they have plenty of space to grow strong.