The vegetable garden: ideas and tips for landscaping

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Are you planning to start growing your own food this year? Are you looking for ways to improve or expand your existing vegetable garden? As a garden designer, I thought I’d share with you some of my favorite vegetable garden ideas and tips, to help you make this year’s garden a success.

As with so many things in gardening, there are few hard and fast rules in garden design. There is no “one size fits all” approach. You need to take your location and individual circumstances into account. But here are a few things you might like to consider.

Get off the beaten track

Many garden cooks start with one of two ideas: traditional row planting or the small space techniques of gardening per square foot. But a vegetable garden certainly does not need to be so regulated. You can implement ideas from one (or both) of these typical methodologies while thinking outside the box.

Beds, for example, don’t need to be square or rectangular. While sometimes using these shapes can be the best choice, sometimes other ideas can prevail. Consider curved, more natural shapes, just like you would in an ornamental garden. You might even consider round beds or more intricate shapes such as those found in a mandala garden. Maximizing benefit, the most productive part of an ecosystem, often involves playing with different shapes and ideas.

Consider access and accessibility

While playing around with shapes, shapes, and layout, remember to keep practicalities in mind. Make sure to plan the layout of your vegetable garden to make it as easy as possible for you. Beds should always be small enough that you can reach all parts of them without having to step on them and compact the growing areas. The paths must always be wide enough to allow you to pass.

Think about how you will actually use your garden and how you will go from A to B. The easier and more convenient it is to maintain your vegetable garden (and the closer it is to your kitchen), the more likely you are to the biggest part. And the less likely you are to neglect it.

Integrate, not separate

  • Think about water from the start – incorporate water harvesting and management programs into your layout and design.
  • Consider incorporating composting into the beds themselves – creating beds of lasagna or mounds of huge crops, for example. You can also place a composter in the heart of a keyhole bed. Or make a fence filled with compost as a division between two garden areas.
  • Create polycultures – avoid monoculture plantations. Use companion plants and beneficial plant combinations wherever you can.
  • Remember that many edible crops are ornamental. And a number of ornamentals are also edible. Integrate your vegetable garden with planting ornamental flower beds – you can have both and it certainly doesn’t have to be one or the other.

Planning for the future

You might be tempted to create your vegetable garden based on what you plan to plant in the spring. But the ideal vegetable garden should feed you as much as possible all year round. And he should continue to provide you with efficient and consistent support for years to come. Think about how you are going to maintain fertility over time from the start. And consider ideas like succession planting and crop rotation from the start.

I think it can be useful to create areas that grow in threes or fours, or that can easily be divided into thirds or quarters. This will make it easier for you to plan and implement a three or four year crop rotation plan in the years to come.

Use perennials to improve annual growing spaces

Finally, it is worth mentioning the role that perennials can have in creating a large vegetable garden. Trees, shrubs, and other perennials are low-maintenance options that will improve your garden for years to come. Most home gardens will focus primarily on growing typical annual (and biennial) crops. But perennials can also play an important role in such systems.

Of course, you could forgo annuals almost entirely and create a forest garden to provide your food. But most of the people who grow themselves want typical edibles like tomatoes, squash, corn, etc.

But just because you want to grow annuals doesn’t mean you have to ignore perennial options altogether. Almost any garden can be enriched by adding at least a few perennials around areas of annual production.

For example, you might consider:

  • Place a fruit tree and a guild north of a vegetable patch. (Where it won’t, in the northern hemisphere, too much shade.)
  • Mark the north side of a vegetable patch with folded or espalier fruit trees, spanned apple trees or other trellised trees.
  • Creation of a windbreak or a mixed hedge to make a vegetable garden more sheltered from the prevailing winds.
  • Creation of a boundary or a hedge around a vegetable garden with fruit canes or fruit shrubs.
  • Surround a vegetable garden with a raised bed filled with flowering perennials to attract pollinators and other beneficial insects.

These are of course only a few examples … you can also incorporate perennials in the beds of your vegetable garden. An example is planting asparagus in a bed used for annual crops during the rest of the year.

Growing yours successfully starts with good garden design and planning. Thinking about these vegetable garden ideas and tips should help get you one step closer to creating your own perfect food garden.


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