Starting a home vegetable garden isn’t as simple as picking up your tools, digging and planting some seeds. If you want to have a good harvest at the end of the season, it’s important to do some careful planning before actually growing your vegetables. A vital component in your planning should be the layout for your vegetable garden.
Your vegetable garden layout should comprise garden location, plant selection and a planting plan.
Firstly, for your garden location, find the sunniest and brightest spot in the whole yard. Try to avoid areas that are under the shade, as most vegetables need at least 5 hours of direct sunlight a day. If you have limited space or do not have a bright, sunny spot in the yard, then you can grow some vegetables in containers on a sunny patio or deck.
The other thing to prepare in your garden is the soil. Be sure to add generous amounts of organic humus to your soil. Compost, peat moss, well rotted manure or processed manure are all good forms of organic humus. Try to avoid using fresh manure in the summer as some tend to burn and the gases of a few can actually stunt the growth of vegetables. Mix the organic humus thoroughly with your existing soil. This also applies to any topsoil you buy to add to your existing soil; be certain to add organic humus to it too.
Secondly, look into plant selection. If you are growing vegetables for your family, it is obvious that you would choose those which your family likes to eat. In selecting the vegetables, you should consider space limitations, climate and other factors that may inhibit the growth of the vegetables you want to include in your garden. Also, consider the individual needs of the vegetables. For instance, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, onions and peas can only be grown in temperatures ranging from 10 to 20 degrees Celsius. Cabbage, carrots, celery, lettuce and radish on the other hand can only survive if they are grown between 15 to 25 degrees Celsius. Anything higher or lower than that will damage the harvest.
If you are wondering how many vegetables to grow for the average family of four, here is a general outline of a few of the most popular ones:
Asparagus : 30 to 40 plants
Beans : a row 15 to 25 feet long
Beets : a row 10 to 15 feet long
Broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cabbage : 10 to 15 plants each
Carrots : a row 20 to 30 feet long
Corn : a row 20 to30 feet long
Lettuce : a row 10 to 15 feet long
Peas : a row 30 to 40 feet long
Pumpkins or Squash : 1 to 3 plants Radishes a row 4 feet long
Rhubarb : 1 to 3 plants
Spinach : a row 10 to 20 feet long
Tomatoes : 10 to 15 plants
The last step in vegetable garden layout is the planting plan. This step requires you to make a diagram containing the kinds of vegetables to be planted, the distance between plots and the time of planting. You can also put in the dates to remind you of the necessary tasks.
For the Northern hemisphere, tall crops such as peas, beans and corn, should be planted on the north side of the vegetable garden so that they will not shade the rest of the vegetable crops. In the center of the vegetable garden area, plant the medium sized crops such as cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, tomatoes, squash, pumpkins and other mediums sized crops. Then at the very southern end of the garden is where the low growing crops like radishes, carrots, beets, lettuce, onions and other low growing ones are planted.
If you are in the Southern hemisphere, everything will be reversed.
Whenever possible, the rows in the vegetable garden should run north to south (for the Northern hemisphere) for best sun exposure and air circulation. If the rows run east and west the first row tends to shade the second row, the second row the third and so forth. That’s why north to south is better.
Proper planning in your vegetable garden layout helps to ensure a better harvest every time.