The ever-important vegetable garden layout is on the minds of many gardeners now that spring is officially here. There are many things to consider when planning your vegetable garden.
Follow these tips to enjoy a beautiful and productive garden this year.
The location of your vegetable garden is the most vital decision you’ll make. The perfect spot will not only grow the best vegetables, but make maintenance much easier for you, the gardener.
Vegetable garden placement
Ø Full sun, 6-8 hours at a minimum
Ø Soil should be fertile and drain well.
Ø Incorporate organic matter each year and have soil fertility checked every five years. Contact Hamilton County Soil and Water Conservation District for a testing kit. Amend soil as needed before planting.
Garden Lay Out
Ø Plan out the garden before doing any digging or planting.
Ø Situating the vegetable garden close to the house will make it easier to care for. Consider distance from the hose for ease of watering.
Ø The width of each bed should not be greater than 4 feet for ease of weeding and harvest.
Positioning your plants for optimal growth
Ø Observe sun patterns and plan accordingly.
Plants that grow to enormous sizes should be placed so that they won’t overshadow shorter crops. Large plants like corn, should be positioned on the north side of the garden so as not to cast shadows on the rest of the garden. If you’re planning to train climbers up trellises, such as squash and melons, these can be situated on the northern end as well.
Large sprawling crops should be situated in the center of the garden. Broccoli, cabbage, and of course, the squash and melons mentioned previously, as long as they aren’t trained to climb.
Smaller, short crops can go on the south side of the garden. Lettuce, carrots, radishes and onions fall into this category.
Companion planting – For better plant health. Planting beans, squash and corn together in a three sisters garden will benefit all three plants. Planting lettuce underneath a cucumber trellis or towering tomato plant can help keep the delicate leaves from getting sun scorched.
Another option is staggering planting. Planting early crops with late crops is like getting a 2-for-1 deal! For instance, short season crops like radishes can be planted in the same spot as long season crops like squash. The radishes will grow to harvest in just a month and can be pulled before their roots are disruptive to the squash. This is a great way to grow a large amount of food in a small space.
Ø A special note needs to be made for invasive crops. Grow them separately in containers to keep them from overtaking your garden. Horseradish, mint and strawberries are good examples of invasive plants. They spread quickly, like weeds, and are hard to contain once they get started.
These plants can grow well in a container and can be placed in their own separate garden, or grow in bottomless pots sunk into the ground.
Holly Utrata-Halcomb, Administrator, Hamilton County SWCD 2015