A Southern Vegetable Garden Plan and Layout | Almanac.com

A Southern Vegetable Garden Plan and Layout

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Plants in a metal bed garden
Photo Credit
Mrs. Johnnie Speser

Garden uses raised beds and sustainable methods

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We’re excited to share a very successful southern vegetable garden. Mrs. Johnnie Speser started out as a complete beginner gardener and took on the task of creating a sustainable garden with all the vegetables that her family eats. See her wonderful raised bed garden using metal beds! 

Johnnie’s Garden Story

I have always enjoyed growing flowers in a flower bed with the standard herbs. The pandemic happening is what really got me thinking about how to be more self-sustaining and also teach my three children (17,14 & 2) to be resourceful. 

I knew I didn’t have much knowledge, so I went to the main source that I knew growing up, which was The Old Farmer’s Almanac. I didn’t know how to use the book, so I got online and subscribed to the daily newsletters, as well as going on rabbit trails that brought me all through the website from one link to the next, and so on. 

I also watched every video that Ben on GrowVeg ever made, trying to learn as much as possible, but then I saw his video about the Garden Planner. I felt like the heavens opened, and if I could just use this planner, I couldn’t go wrong. 

I only started researching for three months before we built the birdie beds and filled them up with the soil and amendments I had learned from Mel with the square-foot gardening approach. I set up my garden in the planner, and I was off. I decided I would try to throw canning into the mix of learning if I had enough from what I was trying to grow to can it. I made a list of the vegetables that we love to eat as a family, bought my seeds, and put them into my planner and the planner then allowed me to add the companion plants for those vegetables with no worries at all. It was amazing how someone who is as unlearned as myself could grow this amazing garden. 

One by one, seed by seed, they grew! And they grew amazingly! I even tried adding some vertical gardening to the mix. I even grew things we didn’t like, but family and friends did so I could bless them with some fresh produce. I felt overwhelmed at first, but the garden planner took all that anxiety away and even helped me with succession planting. Right along beside me was my 2-year-old helping me put in the seeds. I love that the planner can use square-foot gardening or the regular line way. As things grew, my hubby was so proud (and I think a little surprised) of what had transpired from the garden. He even enjoyed going and harvesting with me…especially the peas & nibbling on the pea leaves too.

Here in northwest Florida, we have a long growing season, and I was going to use every bit of it to get the most out of my garden and newfound passion. I’ve always been creative and loved working with my hands, but I felt so full of life and energy when I was in the garden. My passion for so long has been all things glass (stained glass, mosaic & fused glass). But now I was torn because I just wanted to be in my garden. As summer started to come on full force, so did the afternoon storms. My tomatoes looked so good
-until the blight came. It was so wet for so long, they just didn’t make it. We had sooo many cucumbers, both pickling and otherwise, that I was giving pounds of them to my family and pickling them, and I still had so many I was taking them to my doctor appointments for the docs and their staff. The number of cucumbers we had was insane, but sadly, there were no tomatoes to can. The garden planner helped me know what to grow with the corn to help give them nutrients as well as stability.  The only thing the planner didn’t tell me about was the raccoons that like to eat corn! We were heartbroken, but this year, we are ready for those rascals!

I honestly couldn’t have grown all I did and be as healthy as we were without the guidance of the
Garden Planner and The Old Farmer’s Almanac. I knew it was game time, and I needed to go straight to the only reliable source I knew of. So I followed it to the letter. Learning all of the diseases and
pests and how to treat them organically is an ongoing learning process. We have 10 of the birdie
I started with 8-in-1 metal beds equal to about 311 cubic feet. This year, we are
adding some of the no-dig bedding to plant some sugar cane a neighbor gave me. I sure hope
my planner has something in it for sugar cane, oh, and homegrown peanuts! Can’t wait until

People think I’ve been doing this gardening stuff for years, but I tell them this was my first year, and I couldn’t have done it without my Old Farmer’s Almanac and videos and newsletters! They are the source of my power! 

The Speser Garden Plan

(Milton, Florida)

The Results! Beautiful Garden Photos

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About The Author

Catherine Boeckmann

Catherine Boeckmann loves nature, stargazing, and gardening so it’s not surprising that she and The Old Farmer’s Almanac found each other. She leads digital content for the Almanac website, and is also a certified master gardener in the state of Indiana. Read More from Catherine Boeckmann