How to Plan a Vegetable Garden

Gardening has been one of the favourite destressing activities among people worldwide. Women have been particularly known as avid gardeners, growing everything from vegetables and fruits to a variety of flowers. Have you considered starting a new hobby? Make good use of your free time and look around your backyard. There is probably a myriad of gardening opportunities waiting for you. However, planning a garden will take time, patience and effort. Should you choose to try that out, here’s how you can plan a garden.

Do the research

Such a demanding project as gardening requires thorough research. Before you start dabbling around girt, look up gardening inspirations online. If you can, visit garden centres and public gardens for additional motivation and landscaping ideas. If some of your friends is a passionate gardener, be sure to talk to them and pick up a few tips and tricks first hand. Take into account your garden size and think about what you need your garden to do for you. Afterwards, sketch your ideas and make mood boards to get a better perspective of what your garden should look like.

Choose a good location

Once you’ve got the idea of what you want to create, it’s time to look for an ideal location. Do you know what area could be partially or completely transformed into a garden? If you do, make a map of the area you intend to turn into a garden. Note down how many hours a day the sunlight reaches each of the areas. Write down the natural slopes of the earth, and the types of soil to know what would be best to plant in those areas. You should have the exact measurements of the area, so you can know exactly which type of plants will grow well there. For instance, vegetables need at least six hours of sun a day to grow nicely. Ideally, you’ll have a convenient water source for irrigation close to the sunny spot. Sowing your seeds or planting your transplants near a water source will make it easier to keep your soil at the optimal moisture level.

Pay attention to your soil

The importance of good soil is vital for your garden to flourish. Only a nutrient-rich, well-drained, weeded, and loosened soil will provide healthy and growing plants. Use quality compost to enrich the soil every year before you plant. You can also use other organic matter if you want to boost your soil’s fertility and your garden’s production. Mulch, such as leaves, straw, and hay will add all the necessary nutrients to the soil and cut down the need for weeding.

Invest in quality garden accessories

Now that you have your soil sorted, you’ll want to start planting. But you cannot do that without garden accessories, can you? Tools are your main means of achieving wealthy crops, so you’ll need to look for top-quality garden accessories that will make every gardening task hassle-free. Gloves should be your number one priority, to prevent splinters from digging into your hands and avoid many serious scratches. Go for breathable but water-resistant fabrics to keep hands cool and comfortable. Get yourself hand pruners i.e., secateurs which will come in handy if plants start getting out of control. Anvil-style pruners cut with a sharp blade meeting a flat surface. Trowels should also be on your list of garden accessories. They’ll be perfect for transplanting bedding plants and herbs and taking out weeds. A spade, a rake, a hoe, a hose with an adjustable nozzle, and a watering can are also essential gardening accessories you’ll need before you start your gardening journey.

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Consider various layout options

Rows

If you’ve been to several gardens, you’ve probably noticed that most gardeners use a basic garden plan made of straight, long rows running north to south orientation. Why north to south? Because that’s the direction that will ensure that the garden gets the best sun exposure and air circulation. To prevent larger crops from throwing shade on smaller ones, grow tall items, such as corn or beans, on the north side of the garden. Tomatoes, squash, cabbage and other medium-sized plants should be grown in the centre. Short crops like carrots, lettuce and radishes will grow best in the southern end of the garden.

Four square

A four-square garden layout looks like the bed divided into four quarters. Each square within the larger square represents a different bed. Based on the amount of nutrients plants need, you’ll have four categories of beds. Heavy feeders, middle feeders, light feeders, and soil builders. Leafy greens, for instance, are heavy feeders because they need lots of nutrients. Tomatoes and peppers are examples of middle feeders, while turnips and carrots are light feeders. Peas, for instance, qualify as soil builders because they leach nitrogen into the soil. If you opt for this garden layout, you’ll be more inclined to practice crop rotation, which will help reduce pests and soil diseases.

Square foot

Square foot garden plots are generally set up in grids of 4 x 4 squares. Strings or wood is attached to the frame to help divide the bed into equal square-foot sections. Each section will get one type of vegetable. To calculate the number of plants that can be planted in a section, divide the lowest number of spacing inches that you need into 12 inches. That way you’ll get the individual square-foot plot.

Block

The block style garden layout, aka close row or wide row planting, increases the yields significantly over a traditional row style garden and suppresses weeds. Instead of using long single rows, with block style, you should plant vegetables in rectangular beds or blocks. This process eliminates the need for surplus walkways and allows for more gardening space. You’ll group the plants more densely and need fertile, well-drained soil rich in organic matter. The bed should be 3-4 feet wide and any length desired. Keep the walkways minimal and approximately 18-24 inches across.

Vertical

You can also grow vegetable gardens vertically. These gardens are perfect for people who don’t have enough traditional garden space. Instead of planting in your typical garden bed, you make the most of vertical space. Think trellises, hanging baskets or even planting upside down. Stackable containers are another convenient option, allowing you to grow a number of plants by stacking the pots onto one another like a tower.

Grow What You Love

Finally, the road to planning a garden is paved with love. That’s why you should only plant vegetables and flowers that you like to eat and enjoy their scent. If you plan on selling your crops, then, by all means, grow more diverse vegetables. Otherwise, you should allow your palate to be the leader and help you choose your crops. It’s always good to plant some new vegetables each year, just to see if you’re up for it and to keep your home garden a bit more exciting. The garden should be a place for you to unwind and take your mind off everyday troubles, so make it enjoyable and plant what you love.

Final thoughts

Planning a garden will be slightly challenging. That’s especially true for those who haven’t had any encounter with a hobby of the sort. However, if you’re determined enough and don’t mind getting your hands dirty, go on. Start planning and planting to develop the best-looking garden in the neighbourhood. 

About the Author

Jack Kewell is a writer, science editor, naturalist, entrepreneur. He is focused on writing and illustrating books. Also, he is a regular contributor to Mountaintechblog.

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