Organic vegetable garden planning is important if you want a garden that not only yields delicious produce, but is also easy to grow and maintain. If you plan properly, you’ll be surprised at how easy it is to grow wonderful edibles each year.
In fact, once you develop a good plan, you can follow it from year to year, with just a little tweaking to improve your gardening techniques.
4 Tips for Organic Vegetable Garden Planning
There are 4 basic steps to properly planning your organic vegetable garden:
1. Garden Location
When you start to plan for your vegetable garden, the first important task is to decide where to lay out your garden. The site location that you choose should receive at least six hours of direct sunlight daily and the soil should drain well, with no standing puddles.
The garden area should receive adequate air circulation, yet be protected from strong winds. Your house or a thicket of trees can act as a shield from the wind.
2. Garden Dimensions
After choosing your site, decide how large you want to make your garden. Beware of beginning too ambitiously; tending a plot that’s too large can quickly become a chore. A plot 10 feet long by 10 feet wide is large enough for some tomato plants, lettuce, a bush variety of cucumber plant, radishes, an endlessly productive zucchini plant, herbs and some flowers.
3. Garden Lay Out
Once you’ve chosen your site, sketch a garden plan. This plan will ensure maximum productivity by giving each plant room to grow. Measure the dimensions of the plot and draw a scale model on graph paper, using for example, a one-inch square to represent one foot.
As you draw your plan, keep in mind each plant’s space requirements at maturity. Young tomato plants you put out in the spring will take up three feet of space by the end of summer. Consider laying out your garden design in blocks instead of the more familiar rows. Since you don’t have to allow as much space for paths, this will enable you to plant more.
Blocks containing a variety of plants encourage mini-gardens of vegetables, herbs and flowers, and are more diverse than single rows that alternate just two plants. Single crops crowded together are more susceptible to disease, so the diversity of blocks can mean healthier plants. Make each block just wide enough so you can comfortably reach the middle from each side.
The layout of your garden depends in part on what you want to plant. Some crops, such as lettuce, radishes and spinach, mature quickly and will be short-term residents, unless you plant and harvest them several times during the summer. Other plants, such as tomatoes, eggplant and peppers, will grow over the course of the entire season. Perennial herbs and flowers will remain in the same spot year after year, requiring an increasing amount of space each year.
An important key to growing organically is to choose plants suited to the site. Plants adapted to your climate and conditions are better able to grow without a lot of additional care and will produce much healthier vegetables.
4. Plan for Next Year
Once you plan out your garden for this year, you should make a general plan for next year as well. Crop rotation is so important to maintaining healthy soil, so when you’re making this season’s plan, lay out where you will plant certain vegetables in the next season. This will help you remember what was planted where and save troubles next year.
Besides depleting the soil, leaving plants in the same spot each year encourages disease and soil-borne insect predators. No annual plant should be planted in the same spot two years in a row. Waiting three years before putting a plant in the same spot works even better.
Add Green Manure
It is a good idea to consider planting “green manure” plants to enrich the soil. You can add this to your plan from year to year. Clover, Alfalfa, and other such plants add nutrients, which will support other plants, as well as adding bulk and organic matter, when they are dug or tilled directly into the soil before the next planting.
If you plan properly for your organic vegetable garden, you can be sure to enjoy fresh, healthy organic produce each season. Planning in advance takes the stress out of gardening and makes it easy to enjoy the benefits of the harvest.