How to Plan a Vegetable Garden That Will Flourish
Approximately 30-60% of all vegetable garden – fails and another 20% thrives but sucks. Only 20% succeed because they know the secret. The latter understand that anything worth doing is worth doing well.
As a beginner gardener, you have a choice. You can choose to master the secret and succeed or ignore at your peril. If you are reading this, it’s because you’ve acknowledged that gardening is by far the most fulfilling hobby. You’ve also realized that the cost of food is becoming unaffordable and, therefore, want to grow your own.
But not just yet. What’s the secret for succeeding in growing vegetables? You ask.
Don’t worry. Today I’m feeling sufficiently philanthropic. So, I’m going to take care of you. What makes all the difference is how you plan your vegetable garden! That’s it! See, it’s very easy to skip this step when you’re all fired up and just want to get to the tofu of gardening. Only to realize that (a little bit too late) you missed something. Planning is the secret of successful vegetable gardening for all beginners or even pros.
Planning a vegetable garden from scratch isn’t always that easy. That’s why in this post, I’m going to uncover the secrets in a way that you’ve never seen elsewhere before. In a nutshell, this article is going to answer the following five questions of planning;
- What vegetable(s) should you plant?
- Why should you plant that specific vegetable(s)?
- Where should you plant the chosen vegetable(s)
- How should you go about it?
- When is the right time to plant?
At the end of the post, I’m optimistic that you will be in a position to plan a flourishing garden that is both profitable and functional.
Let’s get started.
Planning the vegetable garden tip 1: Selecting the vegetables (what and why)
Step 1: Make a general list of all the veggies.
List all the vegetables known to you. You can brainstorm with your family members or visit grocery stores to get more ideas. To start you off here is my list. Warning: it’s not exhaustive, though.
Bush beans, Leaf Lettuce, Broccoli, Radishes, Beets, Cabbage, Kales, Tomatoes, Swiss Chard, Sweet Corn, Carrots, Turnips and Capsicums. Get more information on here. Remember, this is a general list and, therefore, doesn’t necessarily meet your preferences or climatic requirements.
Step 2: Filter the list
At this point, you need to fine-tune your list further. To do that, put in place some filters to help you eliminate those that you don’t need. The filters would be, for example, those vegetables raved for by family members, those that meet the ecological and climatic requirements and are valuable in case you want to sell.
Also, remember to consider the available space – some vegetables will take up more space than others. If you have limited space, you might consider cancelling out those that take more space. It’s important to note the growing period of each variety so that you can time well between the seasons. The length of harvest, as well as time to maturity, should also be put into considerations.
Key point: Start with the broadest filter as you narrow down to the most specific.
Step 3: Rearrange the list in order of priority
Now that you’ve cancelled out all those vegetable categories that do not meet your criteria arrange the ones that are remaining in order of precedence. They could just be a handful but remember that’s the goal. Aha! you now have a list of what to grow successfully. So, what next.
Planning the vegetable garden tip 2: Site selection (where)
You already have a complete list of all the plants that you intend to grow on your notebook, right? Here’s what to do next.
- Select a suitable location – Most root and leafy vegetables will tolerate some partial shade such as Swiss chard and carrots. While fruiting ones like tomatoes require a high amount of sunlight. Photoperiod of anywhere from six and eight (6-8) will be satisfactory. Therefore, it’s essential to choose a location with enough morning sunlight and afternoon shade. Also, remember to avoid areas with trees and large shrubs since they take up much nutrients and water making those areas infertile. Much importantly, consider the proximity to a water source as well as the convenience of operations later on.
- Soil considerations – Choose areas with loose, fertile well-drained soils that are suitable for vegetable growth. Try as much as possible to avoid heavy clay and very sandy soils. In case your location is naturally clay or sandy, consider planting your crops in a hydroponic system. Learn more about growing hydroponically here. Alternatively, you may make use of raised beds, container gardening, or indoor growing instead. The beauty of container grown veggies is that they can be placed anywhere from sidewalks, window boxes, patios, porches to balconies thus saving space. Don’t forget that it’s all about the soil when it comes to vegetable gardening. Read the Shocking Truth about Vegetable Growing Media to get more information on vegetable growing media.
- Terrain considerations – It’s close to impossible having all locations level. Some people will have hilly landscapes than others. Establishing a vegetable garden on a slope without taking the necessary measures isn’t wise. Make sure that if the site is hilly, contour the rows to the shape of the hill and construct terraces as well to avoid soil erosion. Contouring and terrace construction will help. If done well, the garden will integrate well forming an exquisite edible landscape as well.
Planning the vegetable garden tip 3: Vegetable planting (how)
So far so good. You now have a list of your vegetables and a suitable location in mind. Now you need to get out there with a measuring tape, a graph paper, a journal or a notebook and some strings and get the dimensions of your site or location. These items can be found on Amazon or your local stationery shop. Keep in mind that some vegetables are grown directly from seed while others need a nursery bed. Make a provision for that.
Planning your vegetable garden layout – I’m assuming you’ve measured and now know the size of the garden or location of containers. Write down the size on top of the plan together with the title of the plan. Then do the following;
- Mark on the plan where each vegetable will be planted and planting dates.
- Show the growing space between plants – soil.
- Draw a map on the graph paper showing arrangements and spacing of each crop – Container gardening.
- Place taller and indeterminate plants on the north side of the garden to ensure that they don’t shade the shorter ones.
- The beds or rows should run from north to south to maximize on sunlight.
- Perennials should grow on one side of the garden where they will not be disturbed by annual tillage.
- Ensure that subsequent crop rotation is possible by indicating it in the plan.
- Finally, get the right tools for the right job.
Good news, if you find this procedure too technical, there are many vegetable garden planner apps out there that can do the job for you automatically. However, I’d recommend that you do it yourself.
Planning the vegetable garden tip 4: Planting season (when)
Supposing you plan to have the garden growing all year round, you may need a spring, summer and fall garden plan. Vegetables planted outdoors especially on winter, depend on the cold hardiness of a particular species or cultivar.
In light of this, you need to categorize the chosen vegetables further. Make a list of warm-season and cool-season crops and ensure that you provide the conditions necessary. Read more on growing in different seasons here.
To jumpstart you off, this is my list of some typical examples according to vegetable categories.
Warm season vegetables
- Sweet corn
- Tomato…..et Cetera
- Brussels sprout
- Swiss chard
- Chive…….et cetera
Build on this list and you’ll be good to go!
Just a fast recap of what you’ve learnt in this post. You’ve discovered that planning a vegetable garden before execution is a secret that most gardeners overlook, and they end up frustrated. You already have a list of the best vegetables that you intend to grow, and you’ve selected a useful site and most importantly have your garden layout on paper. What next?
Sign up here to get an update on the next post in the series of A to Z Vegetable Gardening Tips for Beginners. Alright, now that you have a plan for your vegetable garden, next you need to look at the most important resource that will contribute to over 50% of the success of your gardening business. Read the post below to learn more.
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