When I'm ready to plan my garden each year, I make a list of vegetables I want to grow and I roughly draw out my garden space on notebook paper. There are apps and computer programs for this as well, but I'm just a pen and paper kind of girl.
I use the information that I learned in Mel Bartholomew's book All New Square Foot Gardening as my guide for plant spacing. You can order this book or check it out at your local library. I think you will find this method will simplify your planning and help you maximize the space for your vegetable garden.
When I first learned about square foot gardening, I took the time to section my planting area into square foot sections. Now I can eyeball my planting sections with a 12 inch ruler as a guide. If you are new to this method, it can make garden planning easier if you take the time to make square foot sections. I nailed small strips of wood to my original garden bed. Another option would be to use twine around nails to make your sections.
Now we will talk about how much you can plant in a square foot. For this you will need to know the recommended plant spacing. The most common are 3", 4", 6" and 12". If it requires more that 12 inches, it will need more than a square foot for growing.
Here's how to figure your spacing. Take the number of inches recommended for plant spacing and divide that number into 12. Then multiply your answer by 4. This will give you the amount of plants you can fit per square foot.
Carrots need 3 inches between plants.
3/12 = 4
4 x 4 = 16 plants per square foot
3" = 16 plants per square foot
4" = 9 plants per square foot
6" = 4 plants per square foot
12" - 1 plant per square foot
Two popular vegetables that need more than 1 square foot for growing are zucchini and squash. Both of these will need four square feet to themselves.
Now armed with this information, you are ready to plan this seasons garden.
As you get your garden planted you can highlight the areas to keep up with what you have planted. I always do my planning in pencil as well because sometime things change for one reason or another.
You will follow this same process for you spring and fall garden.
Garden planning doesn't have to be hard. Plan and plant as much as you are comfortable with. As you learn more, your confidence will grow right along with your garden.