As your seeds grow, it is time to make a plan. We can focus on where we want to plant our veggies in the garden, and gather the tools and supplies needed to transplant.
One of the most important aspects of starting a new vegetable garden is its layout. The vegetable garden layout is critical for ensuring the vegetables receive adequate amounts of sunshine, water and nutrients from the soil.
Your specific vegetable garden layout is mainly determined by the shape and size of the land you have available to work with.
Raised Bed Vegetable Garden Layout
The ideal raised bed vegetable garden layout is using garden beds that are no more than three to four feet wide with paths in between.
Using a width no more than four feet will make it much easier to maintain the garden beds. You can easily reach the center of the garden bed from either side. Building the garden beds wider will make reaching the vegetable plants in the middle difficult, and increase the chances of damaging the outer plants.
Providing paths all the way around each bed will give you the ability to easily access all of your plants for watering and weeding purposes. Paths should be wide enough for you to be able to comfortably walk down, and get a wheelbarrow or cart down, if needed.
If you are using garden beds for your vegetable garden layout you want to arrange the plants with the tallest in the center on down to the shortest on the outer edges.
Another effective method is to plant the tallest plants on the back side (the side facing west would be best) on down to the shortest in the front, or east side, if possible. This arrangement will prevent the taller plants from shading the shorter ones and optimize available sunshine.
Since the sun rises in the east it is recommended to try to take advantage of morning sun as much as possible since morning sun is actually the best light for your plants. The sunlight is much less intense, and softer in the morning hours. This is why you want the taller plants behind the shorter ones.
Vegetable Garden Layout Using Rows
If you have a large area available for your vegetable garden you can plant in rows, if you prefer. Planting in long rows gives you the ability to plant with increased spacing which will improve air circulation around plants, and give them more room to fully develop.
When planning a vegetable garden using rows, keep in mind that taller plants should be planted towards the western end of the garden with shorter plants closest to the eastern side.
Try to orientate rows running north to south to help maximize the amount of sunlight for the plants. This will help to ensure each plant receives adequate amounts each day. Space rows far enough apart to accommodate walking and equipment that may be needed to maintain the vegetable garden. The ideal spacing between the rows in your garden provides ample room for your plants to grow and for you to work in. In most cases it is a good idea to leave at least 18 to 36 inches of space between each row of plants.
Large garden plants, such as cucumbers, melons and pumpkins, have sprawling growth habits that grow best with rows spaced 60 to 72 inches apart. Spacing your rows slightly farther apart than the minimum spacing for the plants you are using can provide you with a more comfortable working area, and the increased growing area for your plants encourages larger, healthier plants. Making breaks 2 feet long in the center of long rows provides easy access to the center of large gardens.
Plants with broad foliage or root systems, such as broccoli, cucumber and okra, need between 12 and 18 inches of space between each plant. Providing 15 to 18 inches of space between your asparagus, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, endive, cauliflower, corn and kale plants helps reduce competition and promotes healthy growth. Large plants that require significant amounts of water need even more room to grow. Providing a spacing of 18 to 24 inches for your eggplant, summer squash and tomatoes ensures that they can get the water they need. Winter squash, pumpkins and watermelons perform best when they are planted with a minimum spacing of 36 inches.
Smaller garden vegetable plants, such as beets, carrots, mustard plants, onions, pea plants and radishes, need approximately three to four inches of space between plants in a row. Slightly larger plants, including lima beans, bush beans, leeks, leaf lettuce, rutabaga, spinach and turnip plants, grow best with roughly four to six inches of space between the center of each plant. Pole beans need roughly six to 12 inches of spacing, and mustard, Swiss chard and kohlrabi perform best with a spacing of six to nine inches between plants. Heads of lettuce, potato plants and Chinese cabbage need approximately 10 to 12 inches of space between each plant.
Draft Your Garden Layout
With pencil and paper, sketch out a rough blueprint. Check seed packets for information about light requirements, spacing, spread, and height, then mark their locations on your sketch.
It’s a good idea to locate tall plants and those that require supports – like beans, corn, peas, and tomatoes – on the north side of your garden bed so they don’t shade shorter ones.
Remember, the sun travels from east to west, and all of your plants will need sunlight.
Also, your planting scheme doesn’t have to be restricted to straight rows. Staggered rows, mounds, and raised beds can all be incorporated, but leave enough space for pathways to walk on – which should be around 18-24 inches wide.
Don’t forget to include space for companion plants, herbs, or flowers. Companion planting is the practice of using complimentary plants to provide natural pest control, improve flavor, and attract important pollinators into the garden.
Marigolds top the list in pest protection, and can be planted liberally throughout the garden.
Basil planted near tomatoes will improve their flavor, while lettuce likes the protective benefits of being close to onions and radishes.
Flowering herbs like oregano, rosemary, sage, and thyme repel many pests, and act like a bee magnet. This is very important for any fruits or vegetables that require pollination to produce fruit, such as beans, cucumbers, melons, peas, peppers, and tomatoes.
To get the best value, invest in well-made tools of good quality materials that are appropriate for your size and build.
You’ll need the following:
- A round-tipped shovel for digging.
- A fork for turning and loosening soil.
- A steel bow rake for cleaning and leveling.
- A hoe or cultivator for weeding.
- A hand trowel or a hand cultivator for transplanting and weeding.
- A hose and nozzle, or watering can.
And you’ll quickly appreciate these extras:
- Garden gloves with nitrile-coated palms and fingers.
- Bypass snips for pruning and cutting.
- Sharp scissors or a garden knife for harvesting and pruning.
- A kit bag to tote your gear, seeds, and hand tools.
- A wheelbarrow for transporting sod, dirt, and compost.
- A lightweight landscaper bag for gathering leaves, weeds, and grass clippings.
- A kneeling pad, to save your knees.
- A weed torch, to save your back.
Now that you’ve got your plan and your tools, it’s time to get to work! Enjoy the sunshine and getting your hands dirty. Thanks for reading. God bless!
Adapted from www.gardenerspath.com, www.veggiegardner.com, www.homeguides.com