Lay the Groundwork


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Are you ready for a garden but aren’t sure where to start?

You’re looking forward to digging in and doing the work yourself…if only you knew what to do.


Lay the Groundwork is a digital garden workbook that takes you through the first steps of starting your garden. You’ll figure out just where to locate it so your vegetables get the most sun possible, know how to assess the health of your soil, decide what you want to grow and determine the size garden that won’t overwhelm you.

When you take the time to start your garden right the first time you will grow more food with less work, enjoy the fruits of your labor and appreciate the beauty all around you.


Do you experience these thoughts and feelings when you think about starting a new garden?

  • You are excited to learn how to grow food but you feel overwhelmed with where to start.
  • You know you’ll love doing the work yourself, but you need some professional advice and direction.
  • You have lots of ideas but you can’t visualize the finished product.
  • You want to make sure you put the right plants in the right places.
  • You don’t want to put a bunch of work and money into your garden and not have it turn out well.

 After completing the worksheets in this book you’ll:

  • Know how much sun you have in your yard and exactly where to put your garden so that it gets the most sun possible.
  • Understand the soil on your property and how it affects your plants.
  • Decide what you want to grow in your garden.
  • Determine how big to make your garden so that you don’t get overwhelmed your first season.
  • Create several possible designs for your new garden.


Leah Customer Quote



Megan Cain Creative Vegetable Gardener-001The steps in this workbook are the exact steps I take with a client when we meet at her property for the first time. I would never design or install a garden without the essential information I gather at our first meeting. Too many times I have visited properties where the gardeners made their garden way too big, put it in the shady part of the yard, or didn’t understand how much sun each vegetable needs. Gardening is a much more joyful experience when you aren’t fighting against easily avoidable mistakes. Let me help you skip over those beginner mistakes and go straight to the more advanced ones!

I help people create gardens that feed their bodies and souls through design, education and consultation. I have developed all kinds of gardens over the years: a public kids’ garden, a ½ acre youth farm, a demo garden at the WI State Capitol and dozens of gardens for clients. I co-developed a popular urban gardening class series in my city that often had waiting lists. When I am not teaching and writing you can find me in my own backyard garden or community garden plot practicing what I preach!



Lay the Groundwork is a digital workbook that will guide you through the first steps of starting your garden. You work at your own pace when you have the time.

The workbook includes:

  • PDF document sent to you immediately after purchase
  • 24 pages of content and 11 pages of worksheets with beautiful full color photographs
  • 4 sections:
    • Sun ~ How much sun do I have in my yard?
    • Soil ~ How do I know if my soil is right for gardening?
    • Size ~ How big should my garden be?
    • Vegetable Selection ~ How do I decide what to grow in my garden?
  • Step by step instructions on how to measure the sunlight in your yard during all times of the day and months of the year using a free app for the iPhone or iPad. (Everyone knows someone with an Apple device they can borrow for an hour, right? If not, there are other options listed in the workbook.)
  • Your answer to the popular question, “Should I get a soil test?
  • How much sun and what nutrients vegetables need for optimal production.
  • What to do if you don’t have enough sun or your soil is not right for gardening.
  • Questions to guide you through strategically deciding what to grow in your garden.
  • My Top 10 List of vegetables and varieties for beginning gardeners.
  • Sample garden designs and a worksheet for you to design your own garden layout.


After you finish this workbook you’ll have a clear plan for how to move forward starting your garden: where to put it, how big to make it, what to plant in it, and the beginnings of a garden design.

  Shirley Customer Quote 3

Lisa Customer Quote 5


Lay the Groundwork Garden Workbook





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What if I am just starting out?

If you are just starting out then this workbook is for you! These are the first steps I always take with a new client who wants to begin creating a vegetable garden in her yard. I will walk you step by step through how to lay the foundation for a successful garden by putting it in the right place, sizing it for your lifestyle, and being strategic in what you plant.

What if I already have a garden?

Even if I am meeting with a client who has a garden I still walk through these steps with them. Often, if clients are having problems with their garden it is due to one of the factors we cover in the book. I have been to plenty of properties where the gardener did not site their garden in the sunniest place so they are having difficulty growing vegetables. Or, they are trying to grow full sun vegetables in a yard that doesn’t receive full sun. It’s essential to understand your yard so that you can work with your conditions and be successful.

What if I don’t have an iPad/iPhone?

Consider borrowing an iPad or iPhone from a friend, relative or the local library in order to do the sun assessment. The app you will use is free and can be deleted from the borrowed device as soon as you are finished. You only need to do the sun assessment one time. As soon as you have a full picture of how much sun you have in various parts of your yard you won’t need it again. If you don’t have access to an Apple device I list several other options in the workbook.

Do I have to pay for the app you want me to use for the sun section?

No. The app is free and extremely easy to use. I walk you through it step by step with photos in the workbook.

What if I have questions about the workbook?

I would love for you to email me at This is a new workbook and I’d love feedback from users. I would be happy to answer your questions so that I can improve the publication.

What if I am not happy with the product?

If you have completed each section and all of the worksheets and are still not happy with your experience with the workbook I will happily refund your money.

After completing this workbook what if I feel like I still need more help?

In late winter 2014 I will be launching a new online workshop – Design + Install Your Own Garden. This workshop will help you create a beautiful garden design and teach you how to have fun installing your garden yourself. Join the interest list here and get first dibs on the course when it launches.


If you are ready to have a garden but aren’t sure where to begin this workbook is for you! Gardening isn’t rocket science, but there are some tips and tricks that will help you skip over some of the trial and error. Let me show you how to set up a garden that produces more food with less work.

 Kate Customer Quote 4





Lay the Groundwork Garden Workbook





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