It’s finally January, which means I can officially start to plan our 2020 garden map without sounding completely insane. Never mind the fact that I’ve secretly been planning our perfect vegetable garden layout since last November. Now that we’re into the calendar year of the next growing season, my garden dreams can finally come out of hiding.
The Quest for a Perfect Vegetable Garden Layout
Planning your perfect vegetable garden layout can seem like a daunting task. However, by breaking up the steps to laying out your garden plan, we can make the process much more manageable. Here is a list of the steps I use in short, but let’s break it down more below.
Here are the steps to planning your perfect vegetable garden layout.
- Know Your Property
- Make “Dream Seed” Wish List
- Map Out the Land
- Highlight Grow Areas
- Assign Plants from Wish List to Grow Areas
- Consider Site-Specific Factors
- Refine Seed List
- Order Seeds
- Begin Ground Prep Work
Now that you have an idea of the process I use, let’s delve into the details.
1. Know Your Property
As much as it stinks to have to admit, the longer you live at your residence, the better of a garden you will be able to grow. Getting a feel for sun exposure, soil quality, wind and more is a knowledge base that is acquired over time. If you’ve just moved into your current property, you may struggle to plan the perfect vegetable garden layout. Just do the best that you can. Be gentle on yourself, and know that you will have more insight in future years regarding the best places to grow certain plants. If you’ve already been home for a while, don’t forget to walk the property to get a good feel for how everything feels in person.
2. Make a “Dream Seed” Wish List
Yeah, I said it. Just get it out of your system. Fill your online shopping cart with every seed your heart desires. Sure, there’s probably no way your suburban lot will be able to accommodate it all, even with the most perfect vegetable garden layout. But don’t be afraid to get inspired and dream big during this step. We’ll strategically cull it down later on. I’m buying the majority of my seeds this year from Johnny’s Seeds and Floret. I put everything on my “dream wish list” into an excel spreadsheet, which will help me narrow it down later on.
3. Map Out The Land
Perhaps the most important step in planning the perfect vegetable garden layout is drawing a scaled map of your land. I know, it’s daunting — especially if you’ve never drawn a map to scale before. But technology is here to make our lives easier (usually), and I found it plenty manageable with Photoshop. Here are some tips for drawing a scaled map of your property for your vegetable patch.
- If you have one, use a property survey as a starting point. If you don’t have one already, now might be a good time to get one. These will already be drawn to scale, which will save you a ton of legwork.
- Map it digitally, if you can. This will make it easier to correct mistakes, which I promise you will make along the way.
- Utilize Google Earth and Google Maps to help remind yourself of landmarks, sun exposure, etc..
4. Choose Your Growing Areas & Highlight On The Map
I’m a huge fan of color-coding. (Yet another reason to map your land digitally.) I used the colors red, blue, and green to depict different vegetable patches and growing mediums for my perfect vegetable garden layout. By adding colored grow areas to my garden map, I can much more quickly assign seeds to appropriate locations. For example, I outlined our untreated raised pine garden beds in red so that I can tell them apart from in-ground crops.
5. Assign Plants from Wish List to Grow Areas
Now is the fun — well, funand come-back-to-reality part. Now you can start assigning your selected seeds to various grow areas on your property. This is also the most complicated part. Here is where you need to take many factors into consideration for you perfect vegetable garden layout. (More on that in a bit.) For now, let’s focus on narrowing down your “dream seed list” to more of a “realistic seed list”. I utilized the square-foot gardening method to determine how many of each plant I can fit in any given space. This is also why it was so important to draw your map to scale in step 3.
6. Consider Site-Specific Factors
This is where it gets tricky. It’s time to consider all the factors that will contribute to the ultimate success or failure of your planted crops. Some of these factors include…
- Sunlight exposure
- Precipitation & access to water
- Soil quality
- Accessibility from house
- Companion plants
- Amount of space available
- Ability to grow vertically
And more. When planning my perfect vegetable garden layout for 2020, I put the plants that I know I’m going to harvest every day close to our back door, so that I don’t forget to check them. I also mixed and matched plants to prevent spread of disease, and planted my broadleaf plants like squash and cucumber under the overhang of the house in an effort to prevent powdery mildew. I’m growing as many plants vertically as possible, and working in more companion plantings to ward off pests, too.
7. Refine Seed List
If you’re anything like me, as you start implementing seeds from your dream list onto your vegetable patch map, you wake up to your limits. It’s time to narrow down your dream seed list into youractual seed list based on space available, budget, free time, and more. For me, this is a little easier when I can see on the map that there wasliterally no wayI was going to get it all anyway. Now it’s time to focus on the real vegetable garden in your future.
8. Order Seeds
At this point in preparing your perfect vegetable garden layout, it’s time to pull the trigger. Sometimes when I actually go to order the seeds, I find out that some of my chosen varieties are out of stock. If this happens, just swap out the sold-out variety for one that will most closely match in the planting location you chose.
9. Begin Ground Prep Work
Finally, don’t wait too long to begin the hard, physical work of preparing the ground for your perfect vegetable garden layout. If you’re planting in any new locations, it’s not uncommon to encounter blocks (quite literally) when you actually put your shovel to dirt. As soon as the weather warms, it’s easy to get caught up in seed starting. So get that ground prepped as soon as it’s workable, and you’ll than yourself as soon as it all takes off!
Disclaimer: We’re not professionals or experts on this topic, so all we can do is share our own personal experience in hopes that it helps you in your journey! We always recommend consulting with the pros directly.
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Regarding the concepts used in this article, let's break them down:
Planning a Perfect Vegetable Garden Layout
The article discusses the steps involved in planning a perfect vegetable garden layout. It emphasizes the importance of knowing your property, making a "dream seed" wish list, mapping out the land, highlighting grow areas, assigning plants from the wish list to grow areas, considering site-specific factors, refining the seed list, ordering seeds, and beginning ground prep work.
Know Your Property
To plan a successful vegetable garden layout, it is important to have a good understanding of your property. Factors such as sun exposure, soil quality, wind patterns, and other site-specific conditions can affect the growth of your plants. If you have recently moved to a new property, it may take time to familiarize yourself with these factors. Walking the property and observing how different areas feel in person can provide valuable insights.
Make a "Dream Seed" Wish List
Creating a "dream seed" wish list allows you to explore and get inspired by various plant options. While it may not be possible to accommodate all the seeds on your list, this step helps you narrow down your choices later on. You can use online platforms or spreadsheets to organize your wish list.
Map Out the Land
Drawing a scaled map of your land is a crucial step in planning the perfect vegetable garden layout. This map helps you visualize and allocate different areas for growing vegetables. If available, you can use a property survey as a starting point. Digital tools like Photoshop or online mapping services such as Google Earth and Google Maps can also be helpful.
Choose Your Growing Areas & Highlight on the Map
Color-coding and highlighting different growing areas on your map can make it easier to assign seeds to appropriate locations. For example, you can use different colors to depict raised garden beds, in-ground crops, or other specific areas. This visual representation helps in the planning process.
Assign Plants from Wish List to Grow Areas
Assigning plants from your wish list to specific grow areas requires careful consideration. Factors such as sunlight exposure, precipitation, soil quality, accessibility, companion planting, available space, and the ability to grow vertically should be taken into account. The square-foot gardening method can help determine how many plants can fit in a given space.
Consider Site-Specific Factors
Site-specific factors play a crucial role in the success of your vegetable garden. These factors include sunlight exposure, precipitation, soil quality, accessibility from the house, companion planting, available space, and the ability to grow vertically. Considering these factors can help optimize the growth and health of your plants .
Refine Seed List
After assigning plants to grow areas, it may be necessary to refine your seed list based on available space, budget, and other practical considerations. This step involves narrowing down your choices to create a realistic seed list that aligns with your garden layout.
Once you have finalized your seed list, you can proceed to order the seeds. It is common for certain varieties to be out of stock, so be prepared to make substitutions if necessary. Consider choosing varieties that closely match your planting locations.
Begin Ground Prep Work
Preparing the ground for your vegetable garden is a physically demanding task that should not be delayed. As soon as the weather allows, start preparing the soil in the designated areas. This may involve removing weeds, tilling the soil, adding compost or fertilizer, and creating suitable planting beds. Early preparation ensures that your garden is ready for planting when the time comes.
Remember, the information provided here is a summary of the concepts discussed in this article. If you have any specific questions or need further clarification, feel free to ask!