There’s so much to consider when planning a vegetable garden, from what to grow and where, to the finer details that will make gardening easier and more enjoyable.
Read on or watch our video to discover five important things to consider when planning your new edible garden...
1. Consider Where Shade Falls
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 full sun in all but the hottest regions, but plan to reserve the sunniest spots for 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.
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.
2. Plan Your Garden Workspace
A busy kitchen garden requires a nerve centre – a place for all the propagation, potting on, and general pottering about. So be sure to include a bench space (an old desk or similar will do) to work on your seedlings and plants. It will need to be undercover, or capable of being covered, and you’ll need space close by to put all those plants. If you haven’t got the space or budget for a full-sized greenhouse, buy or make a cold frame.
3. Choose Happy Companions
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 minimise 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 gravelled, 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!