"Plan you work and work your plan." Keeping this bit of wisdom in mind can save you time, stress, and money when it comes time to plant your garden. Some go overboard hen it comes to planning and sketch out everything down to the square inch. Others do no planning and let their gardens take shape more ... organically. How you go about planning depends somewhat on the type of garden you are planting. Many in our area opt for the classic victory garden that covers a large area and has straight rows. Gaining popularity in our region, and the only option for many with limited space, raised beds require a different approach.
Victory gardens get their name from gardens planted during World War I & II to aid in the war effort. They are what many of us think of when it comes to vegetable garden design. Victory gardens are characterized by fairly large plots of tilled soil, laser straight rows, and baskets full of produce for home canning. Here are a few simple tips to help you plan your own victory garden:
- Sketch your rows on a sheet of paper to both act as a guide and also know where items are planted if the row markers get misplaced.
- Orient your rows north to south so that they get maximum sunlight. Also plant taller items to the north to prevent shading shorter plants.
- When planting keep the eventual size of the plants in mind to prevent crowding and allow easy access between the rows. (I like to leave enough space to get my Troy-Bilt tiller through.)
- Plan with crop times in mind so you can easily plant late crops mid-summer.
Raised Bed Gardens
When it comes to gardening in smaller areas raised beds are the way to go. A raised bed makes gardening easy. Filled with soil mix, they provide the excellent drainage needed to grow picture-perfect vegetables and flowers. Here are some great raised bed tips:
- Draw diagrams of your raised beds to plan where to plant items and help keep track of them later.
- Add compost each year to help maintain healthy soil.
- Rows are not needed. Plant seeds in groupings loosely based on the seed package directions.
- Consider a drip irrigation system for hot summer days. Raised bed's excellent drainage can also cause them to dry out rather quickly.
- Mulch your beds to slow evaporation and deter weeds.
This isn't a comprehensive guide to garden planning, but it is a good place to start. When it comes to learning how to be a successful vegetable gardener, the best way to learn is by doing ... and sometimes learning from mistakes. As my grandfather always said, "You can fit more in a crooked row."