Your vegetable garden design will never be done. Every year, there will be new plants and new tools that you’ll be excited to try. It’s critically important that you start wisely, so you can expand your garden logically.
Vegetable Garden Design Features That Will Impact Your Success
Your garden layout will have a big impact on your success. Below are factors to consider before you dig your plot, as well as challenges that can be made simpler by where and what you plant.
If your yard has trees or fencing, you’ll have shade. Some plants, such as spinach and other greens, can tolerate some shade. Others, such as tomatoes, need a lot of sun, so make sure you dig your plot as much of it as possible can be in full sun.
Hoses are awkward to handle and water is heavy. Even if you’re collecting rainwater to help your garden along, the trek from barrel to plant can take a lot of effort if you plant thirsty plants, such as vining cucumbers, squash, and melons, far from the barrel.
The size of your plot will have a big impact on your vegetable garden design. If space is tight, make sure that you invest in a compact, rather than vining, plants. Bush tomatoes and cucumbers can be just as delicious as non-determinate plants that will take over a space.
The simplest way to boost your soil is to add compost. Composted earth can make heavy or clay soils lighter and boost the nutrient quality of sandy soil. The simplest way to incorporate organic matter into your soil is with a shovel and some elbow grease.
Once your plot has been defined and the sod removed, spread a couple of inches of composted manure over the site, then turn the soil over at about six inches of depth before you plant. This is heavy work, but can be done late in the fall or early in the spring, before it’s warm enough to plant anyway.
Prepping the Site
If you’re busting sod, invest in a heavy-duty shovel with a fiberglass handle. Depending on tree roots and other hidden hazards in your garden space, you will likely need to put your back into it at some point. You want a shovel handle that won’t bust as you apply pressure.
Maintenance of the cutting edge is key here as well. A good shovel, allowed to rust, will soon be a useless tool. Keep the business end of the shovel free of soil and dry at the end of each digging session.
Weeding and Thinning
Once the seeds come up, you’ll need to thin your seedlings so individual plants aren’t crowded. This is rather delicate work. You’ll also need some tools that will let you work close around the plants as they grow. This means getting down to their level, so in addition to trowels and scratchers, invest in a good kneeling pad and some gloves, too.
Don’t Forget The Flowers
A lot of the vegetables in your garden will depend on the presence of pollinators like bees and butterflies to produce food for you. Make sure you’re sourcing amazing flower seeds and other pollinator attractors into your vegetable garden design to keep things fertilized.
Don’t plant out of season. If your summer gets hot, plant spinach early in the spring or again in the fall, but don’t try to grow it in July. Tomatoes might sprout in March in many areas, but they need a certain number of hours of daylight to really take off. Growing things in the offseason, particularly plants that need to flower and fruit, is seldom successful.
Also, be aware that timing can reduce your need for pesticides. For example, there are vine-boring insects that will destroy zucchini, cucumber, and summer squash plants.
However, if you plant them a little later, they’ll be out of their gestation season. Be aware that if you plan to the hotter end of the season for any plant you start from seed, you’ll need to keep those new seedlings well-watered.
Elevation and Drainage
If your vegetable garden design is especially small, go up. Training cucumber vines up a chain-link fence will take soft ties, so tear up an old tee shirt and gently loop the furry vines as they grow. This will make it easier to spot and pick them once the stems harden a bit, and you can grow bush plants in the open area away from the fence.
Your garden can start small. If possible, take out a few rows of sod each year until you have a space that will provide you with fresh vegetables to enjoy and some for storage later. There is no finer summer treat than fresh sweet corn or a sun-warm tomato. A winter meal of roasted eggplant can help you enjoy your garden all year long.
Let a Vegetable Garden Boost Your Health, Happiness, and Property This Year
If you’re just jumping in, get ready for the ride of your life. Vegetable gardening is so rewarding and is a constant learning process.
Learn more about the 2022 victory garden movement on our blog here. Looking for some great fertilizer options to keep your garden growing? Click here for our favorite fertilizers for vegetable gardens.