06 Aug How to Plan a Vegetable Garden
You may have been pondering how to plan a vegetable garden, if you want fresh vegetables this year. You do not have to restrict yourself to the customary straight orderly rows. There are other options available. You can unleash your creativity and construct a container or raised bed garden. You could even make a more formal flower type bed and fill it with plant life which produces vegetables as an alternative to flowers.
On a side note, there are a number of people who have started mixing flowers and vegetables in their gardens. One reason is that many flower blossoms are quite tasty (roses, violets, nasturtiums, etc.) Another benefit of combining vegetables and flowers in your garden is that it is good for your soil. Plants each have different nutrient needs and get them from the soil. By switching the plants that you put into the ground the balance of your soil is maintained from one growing season to the next.
Tidy rows are the first step in the long-established conventional vegetable garden. A specific vegetable is dedicated to each row. A north to south orientation, when possible, is usually recommended. To easily reach the rows you should till the soil and make it level. This makes it easier to reach the weeds in the rows and tend to the plants other needs. For larger vegetable gardens you may wish to add walkways so that you do not step on plants tending to the garden. Remember to plant your rows across a slope to keep the seeds from being washed away. It also aids the root growth.
Remember to research the space your seedlings need, this is very important in a conventional vegetable garden. The usual spring dampness causes a large variety of mold, mildew and fungi. One plant that has a disease pushed too closely to the others could spread to the rest of the garden very quickly. And infestations of bugs, caterpillars and the like will spread through closed in areas like wild fire.
Spice it up
When you begin planning the layout of your garden, you may perhaps think about making use of a raised bed as a substitute to the tidy rows of conventional gardens. The raised bed system uses blocks for planting. In addition to the unique look this system takes up less space. Another benefit this type of garden is that it is off of the local dirt. Tending to the needs of your garden is much easier. Your knees and back will thank you also. All you need are some old bricks, a few cinder blocks, or maybe left over timbers to build up your raised bed vegetable garden.
A bed at least 12″ deep is just what the horticulturalist ordered. Remember too that since the bed is raised off the ground, the soil in the bed warms up earlier, your growing season gets a boost.
Flair is Good
Kitchen gardens have a bit more eye appeal. If you are a gardener that likes a bit of flair you might consider this type of garden. Kitchen gardens usually mix vegetables and herbs into a smaller space as close as practical to the kitchen. Most kitchen gardens set the plants into geometric patterns between the stones or bricks that form the paths. This makes the kitchen gardens prettier than more traditional gardens. Some kitchen gardens even have well trimmed surrounding them. Picture some bright red hued lettuce mixed with curly parsley set against a backdrop of lattice covered with peas and beans. Add a few marigolds, which keep bugs at bay, and you have a wonderfully whimsical garden that retains its true function.
Still More Options
Be a little flexible and you will find an assortment of options available to layout your garden. The beauty is in the flexibility. Consider your lifestyle, the space you have, and the amount of time you will invest in your garden. A four square garden (one that is rectangular with a central focal point, like a statue) or an asymmetrical garden (one that has no defined rules) may be other options for you to consider.
Tips and Tricks
It really doesn’t matter which garden you choose, but keep a picture or drawing of your garden each year. Annual vegetables and flowers should be rotated every year to keep your soil healthy. Perennials, like asparagus and herbs, will stay in place year after year. Over time you will learn each of your favorite vegetables needs and you will know your growing season. A neat hint is to keep a journal of the sprouting times, bug problems and what you did to combat them. Your garden diary will be an asset every year and may become a family heirloom.