5 Tips on Where to put your Vegetable Garden
Whether Urban Homesteading or planting on acreage there are several factors to consider for the “best” location for the garden and your veggies. Your personal situation, climate and specific needs will help determine the priority of each of these factors.
The amount of sunlight, soil type, and other factors are primary considerations when selecting a garden site. Fitting garden areas into the overall design of the landscape also can enhance the property value. So narrow down where your garden might work based on those factors.
Soil is the heart of your garden providing stability for your plants and a means to get them nutrients and water. Vegetables grow best in a well-drained, fertile soil.
A well-drained soil is one through which water moves rapidly. When drainage is poor, water replaces the air in soil and roots suffocate. Roots will not develop without a constant supply of oxygen.
Vegetables do not grow well in poorly drained soils like clay. Poor soils can often be bettered by including compost or animal manure into the soil. Having the garden near the compost pile or bins helps too.
The site should be fairly level to avoid erosion problems. If a slope is the only choice available, run rows across the slope to form contour terraces. This should help minimize soil erosion during heavy rains.
When selecting a garden site, choose an area in full sun. The garden site should receive at least 6 hours of direct sun each day. Be mindful of Spring and Fall changes to sunlight and the crops that you might grow into the Autumn.
Avoid shady sites near buildings, trees, or shrubs. If the best garden site is in partial shade, plant vegetables that can tolerate low light intensities, such as lettuce, spinach, kale, Swiss chard, and parsley.
Trees and shrubs compete with vegetables for soil moisture and plant nutrients. Walnut trees pose an additional problem because they produce a compound that can harm some vegetables, such as tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers. Plant these vegetables at least 50 to 60 feet away from walnut trees.
Locating the garden near the house and a water supply makes it easier to maintain and simplifies harvesting. There is nothing like heading out to the garden and picking fresh vegetables for the next meal! As mentioned above, having the compost sire near the garden will be a convenience as well for both weeding and working in the composted material.
Garden size depends on the desired kinds and amounts of vegetables, suitability of available land, and amount of time available for garden chores. A manageable size to get started with is 100 square feet (10 x 10 foot). The garden should be large enough to be enjoyable, but not so large that it becomes a burden.
Plant only the amount needed—whether it is to eat fresh, preserve, share, or sell. A large family may be able to use the vegetables from up to a half-acre garden!
If you want some help planning your garden check out our 5 Tips to Plan Your Vegetable Garden with tips for selecting plants, spacing and more.