Monday, August 4, 2014

Planning your vegetable garden

I have been on what I think most people who aspire to have big gardens would consider a high point in their effort. We brought in enough cardboard, growers mix and wood chips to cover about 575 square feet or 25 by 23 feet with at least 8 inches of material.  This is more space than I have ever had to play with at one time.

I was feeling like there is so much space that I'd never figure out how to fill it all. Now I'm feeling silly for feeling that way.

It is about 25 x 23 feet but because of walkways and borders it is really about 20 x 21 feet of planting space

I needed to take a minute to plan the space as wisely as possible for the health of the plants and for the best production. The goal at this point is to have enough produce for us to eat and also start selling it at the farmers market on a regular basis. 

I decided I needed to put it all on paper before moving forward. There are some great planning tools that you can download for this purpose but a piece of graph paper and a pencil work fine for me. I would suggest doing this in any size garden you are planning because it's easy to erase and start over before you actually start putting plants and seeds in the ground.

A diagram to help with planning
Once you take the hugelkultur mound out of this equation and consider space around the edges and walkways, the area becomes a little less than 410 square feet of actual growing space. My abundance of space is looking smaller and smaller by the minute.

Planning how much of what to put where is not the only benefit to planning like this. It will also help you keep track of what has been planted where in previous seasons so you can rotate crops to help reduce disease and pests.

I've laid this out so my tallest plants will be on the west side of the garden so they won't shade the other plants. I've been able to determine beforehand how many of each plant will fit and the space that will be needed between rows to keep the plants happy. 

I'm not going to be able to plant as much as I wanted but I'm glad I went through this process before learning that the hard way by way of unhealthy plants that produce poorly. The section to the east of the walkway has not been planned yet but our cooler season vegetables like broccoli and cabbage will go there in September.  
Now, I can move forward and start the actual planting with confidence. 
Some of the tomato plants and flowers that I'm headed out to plant
Gidget is much more interested in how the chickens are doing

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