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Build Your Own Garden

Raise Bed Gardening 

To fill a 4’x8’x1’ raised bed,
you will need about 1.2 cubic yards
of soil. A good ratio of your soil
should be 60% topsoil and 40% compost

Soil resources:

Walton Sand and Gravel –Whitewater Phone: 262-472-8646 Screened black dirt available (compost needed).

Compost resources:

City of Whitewater Compost Site

Located on N Jefferson St, near the Whitewater City Garage

City of Fort Atkinson Compost Site

Located east of Whitewater Ave on Bark River Dr behind Memorial Park

Rotary Gardens

1455 Palmer Drive, Janesville 53545 Phone: 608-752-3885
Compost for sale Saturdays in April and May from 8 am-12 noon at theHorticulture Center.

Lumber & Hardware resources:

Home Lumber Co. Whitewater (262-473-3538) & Delaven (262-728-9191)

Basic Garden Planning:

Vegetable Families

When planning a garden, it is important to recognize that the vegetables we are used to growing and eating are very different because they come from several different plant families. However, there are also many plant families that contain a wider variety of vegetables than we might initially expect. It seems reasonable to think that onions and beets are related because they grow below ground, or that kale and Swiss chard are related because we eat their leaves. However, these char- acteristics can end up dividing some members of the same family.

The following are the main families of vegetable plants we recognize, with a sampling of individuals from each family:

Chenopodiaceae (Beet family)  Beets, Spinach, Swiss chard

Cucurbits (Squash family) Melons, Cucumber, Gourd, Squash, Zucchini

Umbeliferae (Carrot and root family) Carrot, Celery, Cilantro, Dill, Fennel, Parsley, Parsnip

Solanaceae/Nightshade (Potato/tomato family)Carrot, Celery, Cilantro, Dill, Fennel, Parsley, Parsni

Brassicas (Cabbage family) Eggplant, Pepper, Potato, Tomato

Legumes (Pea and bean family) Arugula, Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Kale, Kohlrabi, Radish Beans, Peas, Soybeans, Edamame

Allium (Onion family) Chives, Garlic, Leek, Onion, Scallions, Shallots

Other Garden Terminology

With the Internet, virtually anyone can experiment with gardening. Here are a few basic terms to get you started with your research. There are many good books devoted to gardening at the local library too. YouTube videos are an excellent resource for learning a new skill like gardening.

  • Crop Rotation: Your goal if you have multiple beds will be to separate some of the main plant families so you can rotate your garden beds annually. This will avoid depleting certain nutrients in the soil and help reduce pests or disease for one plant family building up in a certain area.

  • Companion Plants: Finally, there are a wide variety of herbs and flowers that can be grown in a garden that are beneficial to other plants.

  • Annuals/Perennials: Annuals only grow for one season and must be started each year from seed. Perennials can survive winter and continue to grow the next season. Some plants are perennial but cannot survive Wisconsin winters. We are in USDA Hardiness Zone 5, so anything with that number or lower can survive our winters. Watch the first and last frost dates too!

  • Succession Planting: Some plants, like tomatoes, are planted at the beginning of the season and grow to produce fruits you harvest later in the season. Others, like radishes, can mature as rapidly as three weeks. You can re-seed throughout the season to replace plants you harvest.

Sample Gardening Plans

There are a lot of different themed gardens you can plant in a simple 4’x8’ raised bed. You can use one of the example we’ve illustrate below, or try your own combination of your favorite vegetables! You can usually get a good harvest regardless of grouping as long as you don’t overcrowd theplants. The plans below show about how many plants you can get in the area. Plants like toma- toes, cucumber, and broccoli need much more room where radishes and carrots only need four inches.

Create Your Own!

A simple garden planner, such as the one used to create these plans, can help you understand plant families, plant spacing, and good companion plants. It is highly recommended for any beginner try- ing to plan out their space without overcrowding. Check out for a free trial of the software we used to create the above plans.

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