Your First Vegetable Garden
When you first decide to plan and design a garden, it’s best to start small. A number of future gardeners get to excited and start the process towards the beginning of the season. Also, they usually plant more than what is needed and waste food or become overwhelmed by his or her garden.
So start by taking a good look at how many vegetables your family will consume when planning a vegetable garden. Another thing to keep in mind is what vegetables are seasonal within your planning. For example, peppers, squash and tomatoes are able to provide throughout the season and may not require planting as many as other types of plants. On the other hand, carrots, corn, and radishes only produce once. So, these plants may require more plants for your family’s needs.
The Perfect Spot
Picking the perfect spot is the next big step to starting your garden. It doesn’t matter how big or small your garden is going to be, you need to determine what you’ll be planting within these three basic parameters for garden success.
- Where’s the Sun?The majority of plants and vegetables we will be discussing require a minimum of 6-8 hours direct sunlight. It’s important to understand that if they don’t receive enough sun, they simply won’t produce as much of a crop as one would hope. Not to mention they will be more susceptible to diseases and insects when they are less healthy.
Garden Hint: When you lack enough full sun light to plant a garden, you can produce pretty good results with leafy vegetables such as spinach and lettuce. However, if you live in a hotter climate, varieties of peas and other cool-climate vegetables produce well in the shade.
- What about water?Most vegetables are not tolerant of droughts or lack of water. So, water source consideration is very important to the success of your garden. For example, in the beginning and planning stages you should consider the proximity of your garden to a water source or method for giving your garden water in case of drought scenarios.
- Proper soil.Successful gardens usually start with good soil. The majority of vegetables do better in wet, well-drained soil that is loaded with organic matter. For example peat moss and compost work really well. A number of gardeners prefer to have his or her vegetable gardens close to the house. This way they are easier to keep an eye on from critters and insects, close to a water source and easier to transport a fresh harvest.
Designing Your Vegetable Garden
There are two main methods or approaches to arranging a layout for anyone’s vegetable garden:
1. Row Cropping
This process is more than likely the main one that comes to mind when most people think of vegetable gardens. Basically, you arrange each of the plants in single file rows, while encompassing walking paths next to each row of your garden. Row cropping, however popular, works best with larger vegetable crops, by making it easier to use equipment like tillers when battling weeds.
One of the negatives with row cropping is not getting as many vegetables into a smaller space, with a lot of the area being taken away from these ‘walking paths’.
Garden hint: With Row Cropping you should allow at minimum around 16 inches between each row. This way, you will have ample space to work between rows. Also, when you draw your plan, you should arrange taller vegetables towards the northern side of your garden.
2. Intensive Cropping
This involves planting crops in your garden by means of using wide bands, usually 1-4 feet across and as long as you like. This method of cropping reduces the amount of space required for paths. However, the closer the spaces are will generally necessitate weeding by hand with lack of ample space.
Due to the potential amount of handwork, when planning your vegetable garden it will be imperative to layout the bands wider than you can reach to ensure proper spacing.
Intensive cropping allows a person to design his or her vegetable garden to their own specifications and can be applied creatively with utilizing the front yard and mixing vegetables with ornamental plants and flowers too. Some of the best gardens I have seen applied these principals into their garden design.
Proper planning is fundamental to any garden, but more important in certain scenarios. For example, it makes sense to leave open areas for the garden or gaps where there are no plants at first. This will allow a person to plant any required second crops that harvest better later in the season. Carrots, lettuce, green onions, radishes, and bush beans are frequently grown throughout the seasons.