If you have plenty of open space around your home and want to spend a productive time outdoors, you should start a vegetable garden. This will enable you to enjoy growing your own vegetables and obtain fresh produce for your kitchen, canning purposes, or just by giving them away. The first steps when planning a vegetable garden are locating the site and determining its size. You should start small and expand your vegetable garden over the years.
How to Plan a Vegetable Garden
Size and Location
Choose a level plot about 16 feet by 10 feet in a sunny spot. When deciding on the size of your vegetable plot, error on the side of caution and fix on a smaller plot first. Once you are sure you can manage this and also make use of the vegetables you grow, you can expand it in the future.
Vegetables require between six and eight hours of sunlight a day, so make sure the plot you select receives plenty of sun and is away from trees that can cast a shadow or take away vital nutrients. If possible, select a plot that is close to the house since this will discourage garden pests and wild animals.
Vegetables require plenty of nutrients, so the soil should be loamy. Before you begin planting, get the soil tested and add mulch, compost, and other fertilizers as recommended.
Picking the Plants
Once you have decided on the plot you need to pick the plants you want to grow. Consult with the local horticultural organization about the best vegetables to grow in your area. Also factor in your tastes and requirements and only plant those vegetables that you will use.
Some of the easiest plants to grow for beginners are tomatoes, zucchini, peppers, bush beans, cabbage, carrot, beets, lettuce, radishes, and chard. You should also plant marigolds around the vegetable garden to keep out rabbits.
A garden that is 16 feet by 10 feet can accommodate 11 rows each of 10 feet in length. This spacing of the rows will give you sufficient space to walk between them to water, weed, and harvest the crop of vegetables.
Raised Beds or Tilling
Another decision that you need to make regarding the vegetable garden is whether you will be tilling the soil or planting on raised beds. Raised beds are recommended if the soil is of poor quality or if you have a bad back.
Building a Raised Bed
You can build a raised bed using four feet width lumber. The four feet width of the beds is ideal for growing most vegetables and will provide you with space to walk between the raised beds to tend to your plants, whether you are watering them or weeding the beds. When selecting lumber opt for natural woods with oil such as cedar that will not decompose easily even when exposed to soil and moisture.
This will ensure that the raised beds last for around ten years. Alternatively, you can use pressure treated wood as long as it is not CCA pressure treated. When selecting lumber for your raised vegetable bed, ensure that it will not leach harmful chemicals into the soil.
It is also possible to build raised vegetable beds using concrete blocks. However, this will likely increase the pH of the soil over time and you will need to treat the soil to combat this.
When building a raised bed, the depth should be at least 6 inches while 12 inches is ideal. Drive wooden stakes into the ground to support the raised beds. The stakes should be spaced all along the length of the raised bed. Next, the wooden beds can be fixed to the stakes using galvanized screws and the beds filled with a mix of soil, compost, and manure.
While all vegetable gardens require at least an inch of water a week, raised beds might need to be watered more frequently, especially in summer. To prevent the soil from drying in summer, it can be covered with mulch, hay, or other organic material.
It is possible to start a vegetable garden even if you only have a small open space, as long as the plot receives plenty of sunlight. All other aspects of the garden can be controlled.
For instance, after getting the soil tested, you can add compost, manure, and fertilizer to improve its quality, build a raised bed, and increase the frequency of water if needed.
Once you have decided to start a vegetable garden, you should order the seeds or plants you require as well as a set of gardening tools. The basic gardening tools you need include a garden fork, spade, watering hose, hand weeder, hoe, and bucket or wheel barrow. Just as you need to order quality seeds, consider paying extra for high quality gardening tools since they will last longer―certainly if you take care of them. For instance, leaving tools in the weather, in the sun all day, is not conducive to long tool life.
It’s a gorgeous summer night. The family is gathered on the deck drinking cold lemonade. The barbeque is on and smells delicious.
You venture down to your garden and harvest heirloom tomatoes, red lettuce, Russian kale, sweet orange peppers and Italian parsley for a big, beautiful salad. The tomatoes are warm from the sun, and you can taste the freshness in the greens. It is like a farmer’s market in your backyard.
After months of tending to your plants, watering and watching them grow, there is simply nothing more rewarding than to finally enjoy and share the fruits…or vegetables of your labour.
Need inspiration? Just contact us or have a look at the many pictures sent to us. Create your own backyard space at Outdoor Living Today.
If you are planning to add a flower or vegetable garden to your yard, you should consider raised garden beds. A raised garden bed simply consists of a box made of wood, bricks, or blocks which has soil to elevate the planting bed’s level above the surrounding ground.
With raised beds, you get a simple and effective way to create a garden that is healthy and productive by positively manipulating the growing environment. And the best part is that you can create the ideal planting conditions for soil structure and drainage, no matter how bad the ground you are starting with is.
Benefits of a Raised Garden Bed
When it comes to the size and shape of raised planting beds, there are many different options to choose from. These include prefabricated frame kits that are great as they are really simple to assemble. No matter what type you choose, there are distinct advantages that raised beds offer that traditional ground-level garden beds do not, including:
Better Soil: With raised garden beds, you gain greater control over soil quality. You can even add new soil or incorporate organic matter that is more nutritious to make sure that the growing conditions improve for your plants. With raised planting beds, pH balance, depth, richness and texture are all right at the tip of your fingers.
Increased Yields: With raised planting beds, you can get double the yield of conventional row gardens. By planning the beds so that you can reach in from all sides, the need to plant in rows gets eliminated, making it easier for you to maintain it as well. Also, when you space plants in a matrix instead of rows, you can get more plants into the bed and they will thrive in the rich soil and you will find a significant harvest increase per square foot.
Lower Maintenance: Because you can make better use of the space in your raised garden beds, it means less room for weeds, less waste, less water, and less stress. You will still have to water and take care of your plant, but you can target your efforts on places where it counts the most. You get easy accessibility as well, which means that you do not have to spend too much time and energy on maintaining your plants.
Improved Drainage: Water gets drained away faster when you have raised planting beds. This is great for you when spring rains come. When the drainage is good, problems like fungus, rot, and diseases are eliminated. You need to keep in mind that during midsummer, you will need to water your plants more often.
Water-Saving System: You get a small and organized space with raised garden beds, making it ideal for you to incorporate a water-saving irrigation system. You can use systems such as a soaker hose or drip irrigation to water your plants to keep them thriving and alive. Saving water has many advantages and with raised beds, you can do your part for the environment.
Longer Growing Season: Raised planting beds warm up a lot faster than the surrounding soil during spring. This means that you can start planting a little earlier than you would with traditional planting rows. Likewise, they tend to stay warmer and produce for a longer period of time in the fall.
Improved Pest Control: Although it is quite tough to make any garden pest-proof, there are a few advantages that raised garden beds offer. You can easily protect them against burrowing critters by adding a lining to the bottom with hardware cloth and fencing the sides. Slugs and other creepy crawlies will be discouraged as they have to climb up the sides. You can keep the birds away by adding a simple frame on top of the raised bed so that bird netting can be easily draped over it.
Easy to Use: Raised garden beds give you fantastic ease of use, which is why they are a better option than conventional rows. They can be built as high as you need, so that you are comfortable while working on them. Benches can also be incorporated around the edges to keep your knees from getting hurt.
Neater to Look At: Raised planting beds have nice clean lines that give them a neater appearance. You can plant lawn grass in between raised beds or add stone pathways that you can walk around on. You do not have to worry about messy mud and you can have a garden with neat order that looks marvelous.
As you can see, raised garden beds are much better than traditional garden rows as they offer many unique advantages. You can be as creative as you like and add elements to make your garden look even better. With raised beds, you can have a beautiful garden that is filled with bright flowers or vegetables. No matter what you plant, with raised garden beds, you can have a garden that you are always proud of. It is something to think about!