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Planning the vegetable garden is the most important part of gardening. The size of garden, best location, plant selection are all very crucial to a successful garden. There are some basic steps to planning a garden that will bring you years of joy and fruitful harvest.

Listed below are important considerations when planning your garden. Planting the wrong crops in the wrong place can drastically reduce yields and in some cases attract pests or initiate plant diseases. Plans should allow for crop rotation as well - growing a particular vegetable in the same spot year after year may allow certain pests to thrive and destroy your crops. Companion planting is important. A must read, is the highly rated book Carrots Love Tomatoes : Secrets of Companion Planting for Successful Gardening

Garden Size:
The first step to consider is the size of your garden. To determine this, decide how many vegetables you want to grow for you and your family? If you have lots of room and you love to garden, a big garden may be your choice - you can always give away what you don't need. If you plan on canning or freezing, a larger garden should be considered.

At the bottom of this page is a yield chart for some of the most common vegetables - keep in mind that these figures will vary depending on your soil conditions, weather, and of course, your ability.

Make a list with the vegetables, herbs and fruits you want to grow, and how much. You will then need to determine the area required for each one (see our grow guides for row spacing, companion planting etc - links are at the top of this page).

Once you have decided what size to make your garden, you will need to select a location. If possible, Pick a spot with full sun that is not shaded by trees or buildings. If you have to plant where partial shade may effect plants, be sure to plant shade tolerant plants in that area. Lack of sun can keep some plants to moist and encourage disease, slugs and other pests. If you live in a very hot climate, this may not be an issue. Here is a list of important factors when picking your location:

  • Full sun with southern exposure is the best.
  • Best soil on your property - soil conditions can vary drastically on the same property.
  • Avoid low areas subject to flooding and constant water saturation - too wet and root crops / plant roots will suffer.
  • Avoid areas where the ground is sandy or gravel - water may drain to quickly.
  • Watering supply - If your garden is 300 feet away from the closest water supply, water pressure may be an issue, as well as hoses and the size of hose required - at 300 feet, you may need 3/4" hose to provide sufficient water and pressure. If your garden is uphill from your water source, this will further reduce pressure.

Location in relation to your home is not critical. Don't think that a garden close to the house will deter deer and other animals. They will come right up to your home at night. A herb garden near the house is very handy when you need a few herbs for cooking.

Your layout is very important. To prevent shading of other crops, you will want tall crops such as corn, sunflowers and trellis vegetables at the most northern part of the garden - successive vegetables should be laid out according to mature height with the lowest planted at the south end of the garden.

Crop rotation is important. For example, if you are planting corn, never plant a single row right across the back of the garden (see our grow guide), corn requires cross-pollination and is best planted in 3 or more rows. See diagram below.

In addition to rotation, soil nutrients and pH are important and you can save lots of work by testing the soil and matching plants to the soil test results. If the soil is the same throughout the garden, you may need to add various amendments to accomodate certian vegetables.

Container Gardening:
If you have no good soil on your property and do not wish to spend time on soil building, container gardening may be the way to go. In some cases, preferred. Container gardens offer some advantages as follows:

  • Less bending over - you can make them as high as you wish - subject to design.
  • You can add top quality soil.
  • Less tilling which is better for soil condition.
  • Row covers can be secured easier.
  • Depending on design, raised beds can serve as cold frames allowing for earlier planting. A seperate cover(s) may have to built for this purpose.
  • Work well on small properties when a garden in one spot may not be possible.

Approximate Yield for Vegetable Crops per 15 ft row:
Asparagus - 4.5 Lbs
Bean, lima (bush) - 4 Lbs
Bean, snap (bush) - 15 Lbs
Beets 20 Lbs
Broccoli - 11 Lbs
Carrot - 20 Lbs
Cabbage - 22.5 Lbs
Cauliflower - 15 Lbs
Chard - 11 Lbs
Corn - 18 (ears) Lbs
Cucumber, slicing - 21 Lbs
Cucumber, pickling - 27 Lbs
Garlic - 6 Lbs
Eggplant - 15 Lbs
Kohlrabi - 6 Lbs
Lettuce, head - 7 Lbs
Lettuce, leaf - 7 Lbs
Muskmelon - 15 Lbs
Mustard greens - 11 Lbs
Okra - 16 Lbs
Onion, bulb - 17 Lbs
Pea - 3 Lbs
Pepper, bell - 20 Lbs
Potato, sweet - 30 Lbs
Potato, white - 36 Lbs
Spinach - 10 Lbs
Squash, summer - 52 Lbs
Squash, winter - 45 Lbs
Tomato - 42 Lbs
Turnip - 27 Lbs


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