While a backyard full of plants chosen for their ornamental value can be visually appealing, a vegetable garden is a muchcourtyard more practical use of the space. You will find that a vegetable garden also is a lot more rewarding in many other ways.

A vegetable garden requires some thought, as the layout will be important. Once you select which crops you want to grow, you should think of the “personality” of each crop – the season it grows in, its need for sun or shade, its need for water and other such factors – as the primary mover in your layout decisions.

Using Raised Beds

Raised Beds really do have some  benefits. For example,the soil in raised beds tends to get warmer quickly and  stays warm over a longer time period. The drainage is better facilitated  in a raised bed layout. Most raised beds are 48 inches wide and shouldn't be wider than that in order to allow easier access to weeding, planting, mulching, etc . The height of the bed is usually 8-12 inches. Another benefit with raised beds is that the vegetables become elevated enough where they’re not competing for water and nutrients with the roots of nearby trees.

Preparing the Soil

The soil type most needed for your compost mix will be humus. Humus is dark, organic material that forms in soil when plant and animal matter decays. A pile of leaf litter forms under plants over time. Additionally when animals die, their remains add to the mix and eventually the combination of decay turns to rich dark soil. This humus, combined with roughly 20% vermiculite and 20% peat moss, is a great recipe to use for your raised beds.Fresh manure can be a problem as the gases it releases can stunts your crops. If you bring in additional topsoil or other bags of soil like planting mix or firmulch, be to sure mix all components thoroughly to avoid individual layers.

What to plant

While the eating habits of each family will vary, an average family of four would do well with the following crops:

  • Asparagus- 6 perennials planted triangullarly 2 groups of 3
  • Carrots planted in small rows
  • Beans- 4 plants of a climbing variety attached to a trellis you cab attach to raised bed side plank
  • 12 spinach seedlings in small rows (cool weather)
  • 12 Beetseedlings in small rows
  • 12 lettuce seedlings (romain, butter leaf, red leaf) in small rows
  • 24 radish seedlings in small rows
  • 6 broccoli plants (cool weather) same formation as
  • 10 plants of cabbage
  • 15 plants of tomatoes



All of your crops need plenty of sunshine. Plant your taller crops (beans, peas, corn) on the North side, to prevent them from shading the other plants. In the center, you should plant those plants that are not too tall, not too short. That would be the tomatoes, the cauliflower, and the broccoli. Plant your short crops (radishes, beets, carrots, onions) on the South side.

About John Keisling

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