Planning for your Vegetable Garden
A well thought out garden plan can really help make vegetable planting more efficient and go more smoothly. Planning your garden before hand will help spare some steps and time later in the season, expand garden efficiency, and permit you more recreation time. Well let us just say more time for other things around the homestead!
In the new year, take the first month or so and start arranging the garden on paper. The arrangement ought to incorporate all the varieties to be planted, plant and row separation, and anticipated planting dates. Make your garden’s sketch, with the measurements to scale, taking into account as much detail as you can.
Placement of your Vegetable Plants
One tip is to cut out the rows, sections and single large plants from a piece of paper and then you can move them around your to scale garden sketch from the prior step. Try and think ahead, addressing issues so that planting, cultivating, bug control, and harvest are possible with minimum exertion. Plant perennial vegetables, for example, asparagus, rhubarb and strawberries along one side of your vegetable garden. These stay in the same area for quite a long while and ought to be set where they can be away from your annual soil preparation. That way they are safer when you are working the soil in preparation for the other veggies. Another great tip is to do your best to put those taller growing vegetables toward the North side of your garden. This will help make sure they do not provide accidental shade you forgot about when planning!
Veggie Crop Rotation
Disease issues may increase if the same crops are planted in the same area from year to year. Most of the organism that contain a disease can remain in the soil for several years. Plants in the same plant family frequently are vulnerable to the same illnesses. For instance, eggplants, potatoes, peppers and tomatoes are in the Solanaceae family and may all get Early Blight (Alternaria solani). Had to throw a bit of technical stuff in there for you!
The easiest way to control vegetable illnesses is to rotate your vegetable crops. For the crop rotation to be viable, you ought not plant vegetables having same plant family in the same area for two or three years. This is where the initial planning helps out and the yearly plan gets updated. We also find that for the same reasons, that the insect infestations on a particular crop decreases dramatically.
Keeping Garden Records
We have a series of 3-ring binders with pockets that help us keep all types of records here on the homestead. For our vegetable gardens we incorporate our soil test records, plant layout plans, manure/compost/nutrient applications, and vegetable/seed packets/information from when we ordered them. We like to get physical catalogs for plant and during the planning we might tear out a few varieties that we do not grow this year, but might want to try when we expand or replace a vegetable that did not do so well for us. That brings us to the next section.
Picking which vegetable mixture to plant can be dumbfounding on the grounds that such a variety of veggies are accessible nowadays. Consider issues for example of infection resistance, development rate, size, shape, shading and yield. Peruse a few seed websites or catalogs and then think about your likes, your space and their vegetable offerings. For your particular area of the country, use your local Extension Office and take a look at any publications they have for what grows well in your area.
If this is your first try or you had too many challenges last year and were overwhelmed, you may want to choose simple to grow vegetables, such as beets, lettuce, onions, peas, snap beans, summer squash, spinach and tomatoes. Success breeds success and the keep it simple way is the best way on our homestead and we are sure it will be on yours too.
Obviously the garden’s dimensions will also affect what can be planted. Bush varieties of quite a few vegetables will take up less growing area than traditional vegetable varieties. Progression(seasonal) planting, interplanting, and trellis/staking additionally expand the effective utilization of little vegetable gardens that might found be in urban homesteads.
Space Limited Vegetable Garden Tricks
As mentioned above, there are varieties of vegetables and combining them with the three methods below can help you get more crops in less garden space!
Progression or Seasonal Planting
Progression or maybe better succession planting is just like it sounds… plant one vegetable and then later a second variety. Vegetables like spinach and peas have an early short season and once they have stopped producing veggies, dig them up and toss them into the compost and then plant vegetables that do well into the fall like beets, carrots, green beans and summer squash. This way you get twice the variety of vegetables for the same space and have more veggies later in the year.
If you like more of the slow growing crops, the bramble squash, cucumbers, peppers and tomatoes can be planted between the lines of the shorter growing time lettuce, radishes and others mentioned before. As the hot weather arrives the early vegetables will stop growing and can be pulled up and added to our compost, while the slower growing vegetable plants can now expand into the newly free up growing area.
Staking and Trellising
Cucumbers, pole beans, (obviously right?) tomatoes and some other veggies, can be supported to grow vertically and no sprawl on the ground. You can use a stakes or poles made from whatever you have laying around the homestead, or with a bit of planning (remember that garden layout from the beginning of the year?) a fence or trellis can be incorporated. Not only does this make for more room, but often brings a natural beauty to your vegetable garden.
So plan ahead, select your layout and varieties and record your planting and harvesting plan in your binder. This way when Spring has sprung, you can get started on a successful garden plan. Happy planting!
If you have not yet selected an area for your garden or thinking about moving or expanding it, check out or post about Picking the Best Spot for Your Vegetable Garden.