Growing vegetables is a very fulfilling project that not only helps you save money but also improves your diet. It also helps you with getting a bit of exercise in the outdoors. You don\’t have to go full on with a huge vegetable patch. Your project can be as big as a half acre land to a small garden patch in the back yard. What you do need in consistency is the planning and design of your garden.
It\’s All About Location!
The first thing you have to decide, of course, when undertaking a vegetable garden project is to know where it will flourish the most. The type of plants that you want plant will also determine the location. Fruiting plants require adequate light, water, and nutrients. Below list a few aspects that you will have to take into consideration when planning and prepare your vegetable garden site.
Light, Water and Soil
8 hours of sunlight a day is the daily requirement of most vegetables. This means that you must have an open, relatively flat area that is not obstructed by building or trees. Summer vegetables thrive well on south-facing slopes as they require heat as well as sunlight, while sunny patios and balconies can make great locations for raised beds or containers.
At least 1 inch of water each week is needed for summer vegetables. Container vegetables require water every day or two. This can be supplied by rainfall (for the outdoor garden, but if your climate doesn\’t allow for it, then you will need to water or irrigate your garden properly. An irrigation network will not only help you monitor the amount of water used (thus reduce wastage) but also is a very convenient way to ensure your garden gets its supply of moisture.
Every garden requires nutrient-rich soil that is well-drained. It must be rich in organic material, and free of rocks, weeds, grass, and tree roots. Give your soil a boost with organic matter like compost, manure or packaged soil conditioners to help your plants grow. Turn the soil at least a foot deep and break up any clumps and add in organic material as you do this. Adding in organic material will also lessen the amount of digging your garden will need in the future.
You can also consider doing an on-site composting system by heaping on organic mulches like grass clippings, straw and hay around the plants themselves. This system also reduces weeds (thus eliminating the need for pesticides and weed killers) and improves the condition of your soil.
Planning Your Layout
Grab a pencil and graph paper and start drafting out a rough map (to scale) of your garden. Mapping out your garden and planning it this way will help you utilize every bit of space efficiently. There are a few options on the way you can plant your vegetables, and these include:
Rows: They provide walking paths and access to the plants and channels for irrigation. The rows should be orientated so that it runs north and south to provide even sun light. Foot traffic between rows will compact the soil and waste space.
Raised Beds: This is recommended for vegetable garden in traditional yards. Raised beds maximizes the number of plants in a tighter space. Compost and mulch can also be applied where it is most needed easily. Gardeners will have maximum control over soil composition, and provide easy access to plants.
Raised beds also allow the soil to warm quicker, remains warm longer, and provide better drainage. Remember to make sure that the beds are narrow enough so that you can reach all plants from the outside.
Potager: A potager combines vegetables, herbs, and flowers within a design that provides both usefulness and aesthetics.
Containers: Container gardening provides you complete control over the quality of soil. But they require almost daily watering as the soil tend to dry up quickly. They are ideal for patios and balconies. They also provide a portable means to transfer weather sensitive plants indoors. Tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, peppers, and lettuce do very well in containers.
Once you\’ve planned out the layout of your garden, you can now look into the type of warm weather vegetables you want in your garden. Other than climate, the other factor deciding this is the type of vegetables, and number of plants based on the eating habit of your family. Below is a table that outlines the amount of seed germination required for a family size of 4 persons.
Plant per 4 persons
80-120 foot row
140 foot row
10 foot row
120-160 foot row
10-20 foot row
Nothing beats the fresh flavor and nutritional value of vegetables grown in your own garden. Planning the layout of your vegetable garden will increase the yield of your harvest as well as help with ensuring your garden will provide you with a sustaining source of food in the coming years.
Vegetable Garden: Planning and Layout
Seed Planting Chart: