Vegetable Garden  Layout 

A vegetable garden layout requires a little forethought before you start.

Are you planning a garden just for you, or for the family?

Look around; is there sufficient space available to meet your

needs? Do you have options as to where to plant or are you limited in space?

If you're planning your garden for a family of four, plan your vegetable garden layout to include approximately 300 sq.ft. of space.

Vegetable gardens need at least six hours per day of sun, so keep this in mind when you scout your garden for a vegetable garden layout location.

The traditional method of planting crops was to plant in long rows.  However, in more recent times vegetable planting in a raised bed garden has become more popular. If you are limited in garden space than planting vegetables in raised beds is the best option. Make sure the vegetable bed is narrow enough so you can reach across to weed and harvest your plants.

I mentioned earlier that your vegetables would need at least six hours of sun per day. Observe the path of the sun in your location as this will determine your vegetable garden layout. Ideally, the direction of your rows should face north to south. Doing so, all your vegetable plants will receive an equal amount of sun. However, if your garden is facing southeast, dig your rows northwest and southeast.

Choosing Your Vegetables

Now that you have put some thought into your vegetable garden layout you are ready to plant. But plant what? ... Vegetables are sensitive and susceptible to climate and temperature, so it would be wise to spend some time to choose vegetables that would grow and be happy in your garden. If you're not sure, ask a neighbor who has planted vegetables before. And while you're at it, why not drop by for a visit and check out their vegetable garden layout. Perhaps you may pick up a tip or two you can use.

Another option would be to check with your local nursery. Come to think of it, this is a great idea because at some point now or in the future you will become a regular visitor at your local nursery. A good relationship with their certified staff can be a great source for valuable               information.

If you haven't as of yet checked out the above options, here are some ideas you can use when planning a vegetable garden in your location.

But first before we begin, let me make some suggestions for the  Beginner-Gardening  novice.

Growing tomatoes, spring onions, and carrots, require little experience and they are quite forgiving while you gain experience and develop your green thumb.

For the more ambitious who are planning to grow a variety of vegetables, the following is a rough guideline. Depending on your location and climate I have broken down planting your crops into two categories. Warm Season Vegetables and Cold Season Vegetables.

  •  Warm Season

    Vegetables are most happy in a climate area above 68F. They need a long growing season and usually will not mature if seeded too late in the season. Most experienced gardeners know the planting seasons in there climate zone and plant accordingly. So for the beginner gardener getting to know your climate zone and temperatures for each month is sound advice.

    A note of caution. Be careful with warmer climate plants, as they will die if you still get frost in your area.

    The more popular warm season vegetables include corn, potato,tomatoes, beans, peppers,and eggplant. The list is not exhausted by any means but these vegetables will give you a rough idea of what you can grow. Check with another gardener in your location for other suggestions or with your local nursery.

  • Cold Season

    Vegetables can be grown between 50F-68F (10C-20C).  They prefer a cooler time of the year to grow and will usually tolerate frost. Timing to plant these vegetables is also important, as they need to mature before the hot weather arrives.

    Cool season vegetable plants include beans, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, turnips, peas, and cauliflower. Again, check with your local nursery for additional vegetable options.

    There is also another climate temperature worth noting when planning a vegetable garden.

    For temperatures between 59F-77F (15C-25C), plant vegetables such as celery, cabbage, carrots, parsnip, lettuce, and radish. Again, check with your local nursery for more options. Beware! These vegetables can be finicky. If you grow them out of season, they may produce little if any vegetables.

Soil, Nutrients, and Fertilizing

Looks like we're getting a good handle on a vegetable garden layout and planning your garden, but let's not stop there. No matter how much care you take in choosing the perfect vegetable garden

layout plan or choosing the right vegetables for your climate zone, little if any vegetables will grow if the soil is not well tilled. Remove any abundance of rock and weeds you encounter and make sure you amend your soil if it lacks nutrients.

Your vegetable plants need Nitrogen to encourage leaf growth, Phosphorus to encourage roots and flowers, and Potassium to encourage vitality and health of your plants. To get the nutrients your vegetables need you must mix your soil with vegetable fertilizer. Be sure to read the instructions on the bag before you fertilize.

There are two approaches when fertilizing your soil. These options are organic and commercial fertilizing. Your choice is personal but do keep in mind the objective of growing vegetables for you and your family is consumption. I don't know about you, but I prefer my vegetables to be chemical free and my vote would go for organic fertilizer.

If you nod in agreement, then you can enrich your soil by adding  compost,  bagged processed manure, and peat moss. Be sure you thoroughly mix your organic humus into the soil before you plant. If you are not sure you got it right, check with your nursery staff for clarification and any other suggestions they may have to further enrich your soil.

Planning a vegetable garden layout has a little something to offer everyone, so if commercial fertilizing is your choice of preference here is a little hint.

Commercial fertilizer should be used sparingly, and make sure that you check before you buy to be sure there are no harmful chemicals. You can mix the fertilizer a few days before planting your vegetables, or shortly thereafter. Fertilizer may burn roots or leaves so be careful when you add it to soil with existing plants.

Vegetable Garden Layout
Planting Vegetables

As I said in the beginning of this article on vegetable garden layout, planning a vegetable garden does require a little forethought. An often over-looked consideration is how you go about it. After choosing your vegetables, you need to know where these plants should be located for optimum growth.

Plant your tallest vegetable crop on the north side

of your garden. These vegetables will include tomatoes (that are supported by cage or trellis), corn, pole beans, peas, and all other vine plants. The center of your garden should be reserved for medium sized crops. These vegetables would include cauliflower, broccoli, etc.

The southern most area should be reserved for low growing vegetables such as lettuce, beet, onions, and carrots. Planted this way, as the day grows long the arc of the sun will offer an opportunity for each size and variety of crop to receive full sun.
If you decide your garden space is limited or you are planting in beds, do not plant horizontal what can be grown vertical.  Tomatoes and vine plants are a good example of vertical growing leaving you with extra room you can use for spacing between your rows.

Watering Your Vegetable Plants

All life and vegetable plants with no exception need water to grow strong and healthy. Whether you're planning a vegetable garden layout using beds, container gardening, or a patch of ground, your vegetables need

ample water.

Using a soaking hose is an excellent and most

effective way to disperse water. For the most ambitious and energetic, the use of plastic milk jugs is also an effective technique.

Poke holes in the bottom of the milk jug for water to seep out and bury them about half to two thirds of the way in the ground. Leave the top part of the milk jug above ground where you can refill with water when needed. Be sure to bury the milk jugs between rows or near the vegetable plants so the roots receive the benefit of the dripping water. Don't forget to check the milk jugs from time to time for water and refill when necessary.

To keep the top of the jug clear of any debris, screw the top lid on after refilling.

I used this technique years ago and had it in mind when planning my vegetable garden layout. Mind you, a little more time is involved to ensure the milk jug bottles have plenty of water for your vegetables.

If you are self-watering, do so early in the morning when there is little evaporation to prevent stress to your vegetables.  They need a constant and consistent supply of water so be sure to use discipline in this area of vegetable gardening. Oh yes! that reminds me while on this subject, be sure when you plan your vegetable garden layout, it's not on the side of a hill or grade. Ideally, a level spot is preferred because you don't want to have water run-off from a spring rain or when you use a water hose. Last but not least when watering, there is an exception with cool season plants; they will enjoy a cool spray of water on hot days. So feel free to give their leaves a generous shower.

If all this seems a little overpowering, remember you can always buy water timers that will do the job for you automatically. Check with your nursery or hardware store for availability.

Insects and Disease

Okay, now that we have talked about vegetable garden layout our planning a vegetable garden is almost complete, and we are looking for a great harvest. But so are those nasty insects that just can't wait for a tasty bite.

Be vigilant and keep a wary eye for vegetable garden pests to prevent problems before your vegetables become established. If possible purchase an organic insecticide such as pyrethrin, neem oil, insecticidal soap, or B.t. It would be worth a trip to your local nursery and ask for other options you can also use. While there also ask advice about common diseases such as powdery mildew and leaf spot diseases.

There are also a variety of diseases that attack specific plants. Your nursery may have literature as well as advice for these problems.

Garden Tools

If you already haven't done so when planning a vegetable garden layout, this is also a good time to have the nursery advisor pick out some tools you will need for your vegetable garden.  Actually, the tools you need are basic and can be picked up at any hardware store.

You will need a a hoe to remove weeds, a spade to turn the soil and mix your organic fertilizer, and a rake to smooth the soil after you have prepared the seed bed. You can also use the hoe to furrow rows for your vegetables. Twine is also a good addition to help you make straight rows, and last but not least a shovel for general all around work.

Here is another resource for more information on garden layout.

As always,

Happy Gardening

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