Once again, the gardening bug has bitten. My mother was an avid gardener. My brother has obviously developed the trait and has passed it on to his children. Now my nephew is boasting of pickling beetroot, pumpkin and courgette because he has reaped so much. He is also growing cabbage, peas, corn, beans, potatoes, onions, tomatoes, cucumbers and carrots. Well, he is not really boasting. It’s just that I am downright jealous. So the bug has bitten and now I need to find out all I can about how to layout a vegetable garden because I need to start my garden now.
For those of you whose meals are predominantly plant-based, think how wonderful it would be to step outside your kitchen door and reap all your dinner ingredients. Food that is fresh, healthy, delicious and cheap. That’s some incentive to wanting to plant your own vegetable garden, isn’t it?
Well let’s go ahead and find out how to do it.
Have you ever heard the phrased being used “location, location, location”. It’s an important consideration in many things; where you live, investments, business…… and it also plays an important role in gardening.
One very important factor is that the area you choose to do your gardening must get at least 6 hours of direct sunlight each day. It is therefore not a good idea to locate you gardening plot under the numerous large shady trees in your backyard.
The area should also be relatively flat. We will leave the steep slopes for the more experienced farmers.
Try to locate your garden close to the house. You might be wondering why, but have you ever heard the saying, “out of sight, out of mind”? If you have to pass by your garden regularly when you enter and exit the house, it is much more likely that you will give it the necessary attention. If it is way back, behind, beyond wherever, you might just forget to water your plant for days.
Does it matter which direction you lay your plot? For maximum efficiency, the answer is “yes”. It is best to lay you garden lengthwise north to south. You have probably heard this advice from experts in the field to let your garden face the south. This ensures that your garden gets the longest sun exposure. This is particularly true if you live in the Northern Hemisphere. Don’t worry though if you can’t get a north-south orientation. It is not the end of the world. Your crops will still grow.
The size of your garden will depend on how much space you have and how much time and effort you are willing to dedicate to it. It wouldn’t be wise to dig up your entire large backyard to make a garden if you don’t have the time or the ability to work such a large plot. Remember that while some persons love to spend hours in their gardens and may even find it therapeutic, for others, it is a chore. If you dig up your entire backyard for a garden and then become overwhelmed by the magnitude of work involved, you are going to end up with a distressing backyard of weeds.
If you are new to gardening, it is best to start with a small plot. It can even be as small as a 4ft by 4ft plot.
While we are on the topic of the size, there are other things we also can consider, such as the type of garden. There are many options.
Different types of gardens
There are many different methods you can use to do your gardening.
There is the traditional in-ground method where you just clear the area of land you wish to utilize and prepare it for planting.
Watch as Allison Reynolds from Ali’s Organics and Garden Supplies show you how to break new ground for your vegetable garden.
Another popular method is raised bed gardening. This is a form of gardening in which the soil is enclosed in three-to-four-foot-wide containment units, which are usually made of wood, rock, or concrete and which can be of any length or shape. A major advantage of raised beds is that even if you have poor soil in your yard, the soil in the raised garden is amended with various soil and compost mix making it a very fertile bed for your crops.
If you are challenged with space, you can also consider vertical gardening.
Vertical garden as the name suggest is the use of vertical space to grow your vegetables. Many gardeners already utilize vertical gardening methods when thy install trellises for their cucumbers, tomatoes, squash and other vine plants. They may install poles in their garden for the vines to climb or they may plant near a fence so the vines can climb up the fence.
Vertical gardening has evolved to more than that though. Now wherever there is a shortage of space, regular, non vine plants are grown in pots or containers hung vertically on a fence or wall.
Just to whet your appetite, take a look at these 25 Vertical Vegetable Garden Ideas from Home & Ideas.
Container garden is another option.
Container gardening is the practice of growing plants, exclusively in containers instead of planting them in the ground. This is especially useful if you are challenged with space and allows you to plant your vegetable garden even if the only space you have is your patio. You may use any type of container you wish. Small decorative pots or large 5 gallon plastic buckets. It’s up to you and what you decide to plant. So guess what? Even if you live in a small upstairs apartment, you have no excuse. Sorry to take away that one reason you were holding on to as to why you can’t have a garden.
Healthy soil is key to having healthy plants. Loose, fluffy, aerated soil with plenty of minerals is essential for vigorous plant growth. You might not the best soil in your yard at the moment and you might have to get to work tilling the soil and adding organic material to improve the fertility.
Check out this video as SeedtoPlate shows you how you can go about preparing your soil for maximum output of crops.
Without water, your plants will surely die. Ensure that you have a good supply of water and that it is easily accessible. I can assure you that if your garden is 200 meters from your water source it is not going to be fun making that trek back and forth several times with your watering can and your plants invariable are going to suffer. That is one of the reasons as we mentioned earlier why it is best to have your garden near the house.
In cases where it is not possible to have the garden nearby, water storage at the site (small water tanks or storage drums) will alleviate the problem.
If you can install drip irrigation that will make life so much easier. This is true no matter which garden option you choose. The draw back however is the cost related to such a venture.
What to plant
That is easy. Plant what you like to eat.
Radishes are extremely easy to grow and can be harvested in less that a month. However, don’t plant radishes if you hate the taste and hardly ever eat them.
With that said though, you should choose the vegetable depending on the space you have. If you have a tiny space, don’t bother to plant pumpkin. You won’t have any space for the vines to spread.
Start off with some easy to grow vegetables. Go ahead and try some lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, green beans, Try some peppers as well….hot peppers or bell peppers or both.
A quick rule of thumb to remember when you are planting is to plant the taller vegetables to the back, the medium height vegetables in the middle and the shorter vegetables to the front of your garden.
It is important to rotate your crop every year or maybe every season. What this basically means is that your will move the vegetables around in your garden. This is necessary to maintain soil fertility. Rotating vegetables in the garden reduces soil erosion and preserves and even boosts nutrients in the soil. This is due to the fact that different crops use different amount of soil nutrients and there are some crops (such as peas) which add back nutrients to the soil.
Rotating vegetables in the garden also lessens the effects of pathogens and pests, which attack certain species of plants. When the crop has moved, the crop specific pest with its accompanying disease, has no host on which to live.
Backyard or front yard
It is true that some of you might have restrictions in the area where you live. You might be among those unfortunate persons who are not allowed to have a vegetable garden wherever you so choose…..such as in your front yard.
If that issue doesn’t apply to you, feel free and use whatever space you have. Raised bed gardens tend to be neater and prettier and are probably better suited for the front yard than regular in ground garden.
You can also consider disguising your garden. What do I mean by this? Simple. Plant your green leafy vegetables in the same beds as beautiful, bright coloured flowers. As a matter of fact it is advisable to plant some flowers such as marigold, lavender or nasturtium in your garden bed as these attract pollinators to your garden. Also, as an added benefit, nasturtium is an edible flower so you can add it to your salad.
Plan out on paper
A good tip to follow before you actually start you garden is to plan it out on paper. In this way you will be able to actually visualize the ideas you have in your head. It’s not a complicated plan that is required. Just a diagram of how you want things to be. Just sketch out an area…it doesn’t have to be to scale, and outline where you want your different vegetables to be planted.
You might decide that you want to have a square foot garden.
Marc Vaugenot [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]
No problem. You would just mark out the squares on your diagram and label what plant goes where.
Also, go ahead and make a list of the things you will need to get beforehand; seeds, soil mix, tools etc. It will help you to be more organized.
I think we are ready to get going with our garden. Grab you shovel, grab your fork, grab your seeds and let’s go.
Share your successes or challenges with us in the comments section below.