A well thought-out plan and layout are essential for gardening success. Vegetables need sunlight, warm nighttime temperatures, fertile soil and water for optimal growth. A garden plan and layout should reflect those needs. Time spent planning your vegetable garden and organizing its layout reaps big rewards.
Choose a location for your vegetable garden. Vegetables perform best when they receive six to eight hours or more of direct sunlight. Choose an area that pets and children will leave alone. If deer, rabbits or other wildlife are an issue, fence the entire garden plot. In windy sites, place the garden where a windbreak, such as a fence or group of trees, exists or create one.
Place your vegetable garden close to a water source. During peak growing periods, vegetables need regular watering of 1 inch to 2 inches per week. Hand watering is acceptable but time consuming. Consider drip irrigation or soaker hoses. Underground water methods conserve water, and prevent fungal diseases and insect infestations. Mulch pathways between plants further conserve water and prevents weeds from growing.
Consider the garden's overall size. The larger the plot, the more time it takes to water, weed and care for it. Beginners should start with a small plot. A 10- by10-foot garden provides a family of four with enough produce for one season.
Make a list of the vegetables you like. Draw a layout on graph paper of where each specific plant goes. Plant tall crops, such as peas, corn and beans, on the north side to prevent shading of the other crops. The middle should be midsize vegetables, such as tomatoes, squash and cole crops. Plant the ends of the garden bed with low crops such as lettuce and onions.
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