prepping and planting the vegetable garden for the season

All signs of spring have finally arrived here in Northern California. The rain has finally subsided, and we have started planting in the garden. One of our main projects at home every spring is to plant the vegetable garden. The veggies are settled into the raised planting beds and the vegetable garden area has been prepped and primed for enjoyment all season long.

prepping & planting a vegetable garden

We have had our vegetable garden for over fifteen years now, and we enjoy the fruits of our labor every.single.year. Today I am sharing all the tasks we did this year to prep and plant the vegetable garden along with some overall information about the garden in general, which might help you if you’re on the fence (no pun intended) about starting your own veggie garden.

vegetable garden tips

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about our vegetable garden

Garden Location

Our vegetable garden sits in the back left corner of our backyard. The area provides plenty of sunshine, which most of the vegetables require. You want about at least eight hours of sunshine per day for your vegetable garden when you are planning placement.

prepping & planting a vegetable garden

Plant Placement

A certain corner of our vegetable garden does get more shade from the neighbor’s Redwood trees (that’s a big thing in Northern California), which is perfect for cooler temp vegetables like lettuces. I love to grow different varieties of lettuce every season. We’re a big salad family, which you can read more about here {9 summertime salad ideas}.

growing lettuce at home

Plant Selections

I have a list of the vegetable selections we planted for the season below. My recommendation is plant how you eat. We always experiment with a new variety of something, but stick to our tried and true choices year after year.

prepping & planting a vegetable garden

Garden Design

We chose raised beds for our garden since they are easier on the body when you are tending to them. As the years pass, I am more and more appreciative of the ergonomic benefits of our raised beds. Our beds sit about 18 inches off the ground, which work perfectly for us.

raised beds for a vegetable garden

We also enclosed our garden with a fence to hopefully deter critters and for puppy proofing measures. Originally, we had a white picket fence, which I absolutely loved. It gave the garden all the cottage feels.

cottage garden

Unfortunately after a decade of wear and tear our quaint cottage picket fence started to deteriorate since the proper wood had not been used when it was first built. You can see how the picket fence looked way back when and read more about it here {how does your garden grow}. This was before we had planted around the garden and those littles helping by blowing bubbles are now 21 and 18. How time flies!

prepping & planting a vegetable garden
how does your garden grow

A couple of years ago Mister & Master M replaced the picket fence with a livestock fence {how to build a livestock fence}. The fence design was inspired by Brooke & Steve Giannetti from Patina Farm. I will be reviewing their book Patina Farm during my {book review series}.

prepping & planting a vegetable garden
how to build a livestock fence

prepping the vegetable garden for the season

  • weed, trim and clean
  • turn and amend the soil
  • check irrigation drip system
prepping & planting a vegetable garden

These are the main things we do to get our vegetable garden ready for the season. Keep in mind I use the term “we” loosely here since it’s Mister M who tasks himself with the garden upkeep. Providing rich soil is super important and I would make it my numero uno priority.

prepping & planting a vegetable garden

We also added another layer of decomposed granite to our vegetable garden area. The DG had worn down through the years and it was time for a fresh coat. Some might think it’s an insignificant detail, but it has freshened up the area quite a bit.

vegetable gardening

You can read about some other maintenance and updates we shared last year in this post {vegetable garden mid-summer update}.

planting the vegetable garden for the season

We plant everything from seedlings versus seeds. In the past, we have planted some lettuce varieties from seeds, but not this year. We selected all our usual suspects for this year’s plantings. Like I said before, we prefer to plant based on how we eat. Here are our selections for the season.

prepping & planting a vegetable garden
  • black cherry tomatoes
  • yellow pear tomatoes
  • cherry tomatoes
  • roma tomatoes
  • jalapeno peppers
  • padron peppers
  • shishito peppers
  • butter crunch lettuce
  • arugula
  • sweet Italian basil
  • cilantro
  • Italian parsley
  • chives
  • thyme
  • mint

We also have rosemary and oregano in the garden, which we don’t have to plant every season. It’s hardy enough to survive the winters around here so we just prune them and cut them back for the season. I recently used the rosemary blooms for this tablescape in the early onset of the spring season {copper-y spring tablescape}.

prepping & planting a vegetable garden

The mint we also plant in a separate container since it’s invasive. If we planted it in the raised beds it would take over all the plantings around it. I recommend always planting mint individually in it’s own container.

prepping & planting a vegetable garden

We like to tuck in the seedling labels on the side of the raised beds to keep track of what’s what as the season progresses. As the plants grow and spread sometimes it’s hard to remember and keep track so these are easy little cheat sheets.

prepping & planting a vegetable garden

We usually experiment with a new selection, but this year we remained very conservative with our choices. We are only growing what we truly enjoy and know we will harvest, eat and share with family and friends. Bounty from our garden is one of our favorite offerings while they are thriving. I shared some of that philosophy here {what is the bet hostess gift ideas}.

beyond the vegetable garden

Flanking the vegetable garden beyond the livestock fence we have a lemon and lime tree on each side. Our lemon tree has graced us with unbelievable fruit year after year. Unfortunately, we cannot say the same for our lime tree, but we are holding out hope.

farmhouse garden

Also along the fence we have some lavender, which I love to use for many different projects {so many reasons to love lavender}. I hope to use some of the lavender in more projects this season.

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The crown of the garden is the climbing rose around the arbor. We initially only planted one rose shrub hoping it would make its way all the way around eventually. Well, it never quite made it all the way to the other side so last year we added a new shrub on the other side. It’s starting to climb and next spring it should meet the other shrub somewhere along the arbor.

gardening 101

benefits of the vegetable garden

The vegetable garden has become a mini sanctuary for us. Mr. M has his daily ritual where he goes out in the late afternoon and waters the garden. Sometimes he has a cocktail, sometimes I join him and sometimes it’s his peaceful moment in time.

prepping & planting a vegetable garden

There are many benefits to growing and harvesting your own veggies. Here is a great post that goes into great detail about the benefits {6 benefits of planting your own vegetable garden}.

garden design

By integrating the sitting area in the garden a few years ago, it has allowed us to spend more time comfortably enjoying our surroundings.

garden styling

enjoying the vegetable garden

The sitting area allows us to use the garden for more than just growing our veggies. Although this remains the primary purpose of course, it’s nice to sit out there and enjoy the space.

prepping & planting a vegetable garden

I added a string of solar lights to the manzanita branches that sit behind the table, which adds a nice glow once the sun goes down.

night garden

We hope to use the vegetable garden to spend more time enjoying all the hard work we have put into this little corner of our world. More gardening posts coming your way real soon.

farmhouse garden

start your own vegetable garden

“A garden must combine the poetic and the mysterious with a feeling of serenity and joy.” 

Luis Barragan

sharing @ between naps on the porch


  1. Cara says:

    I may have two black thumbs, but I enjoy others gardens. Thank you for sharing this post with us Mary Jo. I like both fences, and your arbor is perfection especially with the garden gate, love it! Every year I think I will start small, maybe a tomato plant since I literally kill everything, and every year passes and I never do it. I love the way your garden looks though. I can imagine it is quite serene.

    1. Thanks Cara! I would buy herb plants to keep in your kitchen. Basil or parsley are good ones to start with. XO- MJ

  2. I’m loving your idea of having raised beds to help with back strain. I’m featuring you tomorrow at the #HomeMattersParty. Hope to see you drop by to take a look!

    1. Thanks so much Allyson. Yes the raised beds are a God send. Thanks for the feature and you will definitely “see”!me tomorrow. Have a great day! XO- MJ

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