A good dream is the first step to a great garden. My dreams are filled with alien-like gourds dangling from trellised archways, woolly thyme pathways, Silver Queen corn with a bad dose of huitlacoche, rows of Aleppo peppers and Tom Thumb lettuce. Dreaming is best done on chilly Sunday mornings in bed, surrounded by books, seed catalogs, and a thick pad of Post-its.
No better deep dive. The Compleat Squash completes me.
Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Catalog
Lush photos and exhilarating descriptions.
Hudson Valley Seed Co.
Our hometown peeps. Cesare’s sauce tomato? Yes, please.
Free books! Crazy concept. Try before you buy.
Nothing about my garden is spontaneous. I plan out my beds meticulously utilizing every tool I can find. Planning a garden should start with how much room you have and what you dream of (see left). A single giant pot might be home to lemon cucumbers, some herbs, and lettuce. A whole backyard should be divvied up into manageable shapes and preconfigured with beauty, maintenance, and crop rotation in mind.
Mother Earth News Garden Planner
No, they don’t pay me. Yes, you need it.
Identify your first and last frost days. Not optional.
Johnny’s Seed Starting Date Calendar
Indispensable, especially for indoor starts.
Plastic Photo Boxes
For obsessive seed organizers like me.
A Special Thanks to Chef Dan Barber and Row 7 Seeds for their yearlong collaboration on this feature. row7seeds.com
There are two primary planting periods: “Early” and Memorial Day. Early is “as soon as the ground can be worked.” This is when you plant peas, lettuce, brassicas, favas, and other cool stuff. Memorial Day is when tomatoes and peppers, etc., go in. Succession planting is a necessity when a whole row of head lettuce harvested all at once is too much for your household. I plant a few inches each week. And I’m an aggressive thinner. Worth studying up on: soil health, crop rotation, companion planting, beneficial flowers.
Ginormous sticks to mark what you’ve planted.
Writing that remains clear on your field stakes 10 weeks later.
Texas Tomato Cages
They last forever and fold flat for winter.
Google “How We Plant a Tomato: Love Apple Farms”
A landscaper friend told me once that he plants veggie gardens for people who never harvest from them. This is nuts and should be illegal, IMO. Harvest daily. Grocery shop your garden. Eat what’s ready. Harvest when things are way too small just because you can: filet beans the width of an eyelash, squash no bigger than your pinky, chard leaves nubile enough to eat raw.
Hot Pink Super-Birkis
My day-to-evening garden clog.
Buy two, lose one.
Dynamic Salad Spinner
Up your salad game.
Fake Shaker Baskets
For gathering and Instagramming.