While a backyard full of plants chosen for their ornamental value can be visually appealing, a vegetable garden is a much 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 have some benefits. The soil in raised beds tends to get warmer quickly and it stays warm a longer time. Drainage is also easier to design when using raised beds. Raised beds should not be wider than 48 inches. Most raised beds are around 21 inches wide. The height of the bed should be around 10 inches. Another great thing about raised beds is that it keeps the vegetables high enough where they’re not competing for water and nutrients with the roots of nearby trees.
Preparing the Soil
Humus will be essential to your soil. By adding a lot of organic humus, you will be taking a huge step toward healthy vegetables. You can get good humus from peat moss, processed or rotted manure or compost – this stuff can be purchased by the bag. Fresh manure can be a problem, as the gases it releases can stunts your crops. The humus should be well mixed with the soil. Keep this in mind if you bring in additional topsoil – you would then need to add humus to that soil as well.
What to plant
While the eating habits of each family will vary, an average family of four would do well with the following crops:
- 40 plants of asparagus
- 30 ft-long row of carrots
- 30 ft-long row of corn
- 20 ft-long row of beans
- 20 ft-long row of spinach
- 10 ft-long row of beets
- 10 ft-long row of lettuce
- 5 ft-long row of radishes
- 10 plants of broccoli
- 10 plants of cabbage
- 15 plants of tomatoes
You don’t have to plant these vegetables in long rows. For example, if the list above describes a 20 ft-long row of spinach, you can just as easily plant four rows of spinach, each of them four feet long.
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.