Selecting the species to plant and determining the place where they will be set is no easy thing to do in a vegetable garden.  There are numerous parameters that need to be taken into account in order not to compromise the success of the venture Constraints are not limited the selection of varieties, but also concern the organization of the growing calendar. Companion planting, crop rotation, etc. … are all criteria that must be taken into consideration.

More and more people devote themselves to the creation of a vegetable garden. This activity can be recreational, instructive but also profitable. A multitude of vegetable varieties are available in garden centres. Here are some tips on how to select the varieties, as well as their location in the vegetable garden.

The choice of species to plant

In order to arrange your vegetable garden as best as possible, you first need to make a list of the plants you want to grow. This list can be based on your vegetable needs. If you have a big enough garden, you can meet most of the requirements in terms of variety, quality and quantity. The list can also be based on the skills required to maintain certain varieties. Some species are more difficult to grow successfully than others, or may require special attention. The list is also organized by taking into account your financial possibilities. A garden requires lots of investment in terms of equipment, fertilizers, processing products … Make a plan of what you can accomplish the first year. Finally, you can simply write your list according to your preferences and availability. Remember that gardening should, before all, remain a pleasurable activity.

Space and light management

The first organization criterion of the vegetable garden is its practicality. If you have a wooden fence, for example, you can take advantage of it by planting climbing varieties all along, such as crawling beans. Plant species that have the greatest water needs near the source, and other plants further away. This will reduce the time required for watering. Consider the aesthetics and volume management. Imagine the size and shape of plants at maturity. That way, you can get an idea on how to organize them harmoniously. Tomatoes can be planted, for example, along a driveway. Each variety needs to be planted so as not to hinder the maintenance of others. Make the choice between line, square foot or on-the-fly planting. Each of these methods has its advantages and disadvantages. Finally, regarding space management, you must consider the direction of light and wind. The plot of land’s orientation mainly depends on these two criteria. To facilitate the flow of air, the planting rows should be parallel to the direction of the wind. As a general rule, plant the highest species facing north, and the lowest species facing south for a balanced dispersion of the sun’s heat.

Companion planting management

Companion planting consists of planting two or more different species on the same plot of land. The choice of species to put together is based on the advantages that each brings to the other with their natural properties. One can, for example, plant carrots with leeks or onions. Leeks actually have a repellent effect on carrot flies, and carrots work the same way on the onion flies. This kind of beneficial association often spare gardeners the use of insecticides. The starflower is ideally planted with courgette because it attracts bees and pollinators necessary to its propagation. Yarrow can be planted with herbs because it strengthens their aromatic oil content. Be careful because some associations also have negative effects. For example, garlic should not be planted with cabbage or beans. Companion planting can also be justified by basic needs that one plant fulfils for another. As an example, corn can be used as a stake for a climbing plant, much like tomato can provide shade for radish seedlings. Companion planting can also be based on similarities in terms of maintenance. In this case, we will put together all of the varieties that have the same water needs, the same preferences in terms of soil type, or that require the same types of fertilizers.

The planting and harvesting calendar

The planting calendar can be taken into account to organize the arrangement of the vegetables. Be sure to put all the perennials on one side and all the annuals on the other. The sowing and harvesting calendar gives us an idea on how to organize the flower beds. Where to put the plant nursery? What should be planted first? How to space out seeds? Transplanting? Treatments with fungicides and insecticides? The calendar gives us a general idea about the sequence of events in the vegetable garden, and the ideal location of each plant in the garden.

From the second year on, crop rotation needs to be taken into consideration. The basic principle consists of not planting the same family of annuals in the same place two years in a row. The idea is to leave the soil’s composition unaltered and to reduce the risk of disease outbreaks. Therefore, it is recommended to alternate root, leaf and dried vegetables. Crop rotation management is greatly facilitated if each plant family is grouped together in a defined location of the vegetable garden. Thus, crop rotation can be carried out section by section.

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Published in Creating a vegetable garden by Alexander on 06 Sep 2011