Are you planning a new vegetable garden? Before you get started, consider these five garden planning tips—from knowing where the sunlight falls to making pathways before planting! These simple considerations are easy to forget, but will make your gardening so much easier and more enjoyable.
1. Consider Where Sun and Shade Fall
Where sun and shade fall is an essential consideration because it will determine how quickly and healthily your crops will grow. Almost all vegetables grow best in 6 to 8 hours of full sun in all but the hottest regions. But also consider where the sunniest spots are. In these spots, you should plant your warmth–loving crops like tomatoes and peppers.
Spend some time in your garden and make a note of where the sunshine falls at different times of the day, and consider how this will change over the course of the year. Remember, shade cast by deciduous trees in summer won’t be there after they have shed their leaves in autumn, which is good news for winter crops like kale, spring cabbage and Asian greens.
Work out where shade will fall and plan your plantings accordingly. Consider the position of the midday sun and plan beds so that taller crops aren’t shading shorter ones. Or grow plants that can tolerate shade such as salads and leafy greens behind your lankier crops.
See video demonstrating these 5 tips!
2. Plan Your Garden Workspace
This may sound like an “extra” but it’s so much more enjoyable to garden when you a small space to work. So consider including a bench space (an old desk or similar will do).
If you’re planning to start seedings in small pots instead of in the ground, you’ll definitely need somewhere to sow, pot up, and more. And you’ll want a space that can be covered. If you haven’t got the space or budget for a full-sized greenhouse, buy or make a cold frame.
3. Choose Happy Companions
Which crops will you plant next to each other? Companion planting, when plants are grown next to each other for the benefit of one or both, is a very sensible practice, yet one that’s often overlooked. By growing, for example, French marigolds among your tomatoes, you can minimize the risk of aphids, while growing nasturtiums close to brassicas like cabbage may help to lure caterpillars away from your crop.
(Our Garden Planner can help you choose perfect companion plants for your vegetables by selecting a crop or crops, then clicking on the Companion Planting button to reveal suitable companions!)
4. Plan Your Watering and Water Storage
Plants need water, and even in relatively moist, temperate climates you’ll still need to irrigate from time to time. Make sure your new vegetable garden has some means for easy watering close to hand, such an outdoor faucet.
Mains water is precious, so supplement it where you can with stored rainwater, using water barrels to collect water off house, greenhouse and shed roofs. Water barrels take up very little space but will provide a fantastic source of natural rainwater much preferred by plants – and if you’re on a water meter it’ll save you money too!
5. Make Easy Access Garden Pathways
Finally, make sure you can easily get around your vegetable garden. Fail to include garden pathways and you’ll find it harder to tend your crops without standing on and compacting the soil. You should be able to comfortably work on beds from your paths, and ideally have enough room for a wheelbarrow to pass through. Aim for a width of at least 18 inches (45cm), but wider is better where possible.
Paths can be paved or graveled, but they don’t have to be. You can lay woodchip, sawdust, or some other biodegradable material that will need to be topped up once or twice a year; or just leave paths between beds as grass that is mowed regularly.
These simple considerations are easy to forget, but will make your gardening so much easier. I’m sure you’ve got some really exciting plans of your own this growing season, and we’d love to hear about it, so do drop us a comment below to tell us what you’re up to!
TRY OUT THE ALMANAC GARDEN PLANNER FOR FREE
As a courtesy, the online Almanac Garden Planner is free for 7 days. This is plenty of time to play around on your computer and try it out. There are absolutely no strings attached. We are most interested in encouraging folks to try growing a garden of goodness!