It is important to layout and plan a garden prior to actually breaking ground. Planning a garden is one of the most important keys to a successful garden. There are many different areas you can designate to start your garden. You may want to have your garden in your backyard, on your patio, near the side of your house, or even on your window sills. You can have a very successful herb garden growing right on your kitchen window cell, allowing you to add flavorful fresh herbs to your meals as they are required.
A traditional garden will be designed with long straight rows. If you have seen many pictures of gardens on TV, you have most likely seen this type of vegetable garden design. However many home gardeners like the simplicity of planting their garden in a bed rather than long stretching rows. Walking on the garden soil during the growing season will ruin the soil structure. Therefore it is best to layout your garden bed so you can access the plants without having to step into the garden bed itself. Additionally some people prefer to add an extra 10 inches of soil to the bed, thus creating a raised bed, which will help the garden with drainage. This raised bed garden also has the benefit of a slightly higher soil temperature.
Some people prefer to have an ascetically pleasing layout for their vegetable garden design. This is known as potager, and is when flowers and herbs are mixed in with the vegetables in the garden to create a eye appealing garden. When laying out your garden it is important to keep in mind how much space neighboring plants will take up. If the plant is quite large, and will grow quickly it could shade plants that are smaller. However if the neighboring plants that are smaller are harvested prior to the larger plants, they may be an idea companion.
When you are planning your garden keep in mind that there are a few vegetables that will inhibit the growth of other vegetables. This includes potatoes, which will limit the growth of squash and tomatoes. Beans will stall the growth of onions. Broccoli will hamper the growth of tomatoes. Finally carrots will slow the growth of dill.
Crops need to be rotated yearly to prevent diseases as well as maintaining the soils micro-nutrients. The following classes of plants should be rotated. Generally people adhere to a four year rotation, where the plants will wind up in the same place they started four years ago.
- The Solanaceae Family which includes tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers.
- The Cucurbits family which includes zucchini, squash, cucumbers, and melons.
- The Brassicas Family which includes kale, cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli
- The Legumes family which includes beans and peas.
- The Crucifers family which includes radishes, turnips, and collards.
- The Mescluns family which includes endive, arugula, chicory, and swiss chard.
- The Alliums family which includes leeks, shallots, garlic, scallions, and onions.