Vegetable Garden Design

You can design a highly symmetrical garden with geometrical shapes and structures or use a mix and match of asymmetrical design. The design of your garden would reflect your creativity, so feel free to come up with ideas of your own. There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to designing a garden but you might need to keep the below few pointers in mind.

  1. Save up on space as much as possible, try using a combination of the various planting techniques described in the first section of this article
  2. Leave enough room for easy accessibility to the harvest, you don't want to end up trampling the other plants in order to pick a few lettuce leaves.
  3. Watering should be convenient for you, make sure your garden design does not hinder you from using the hose to water the plants.
  4. Consider growing a "potager garden", this way you can plant vegetable in your flower beds. Growing marigolds around the vegetable plants helps keep the nematodes away.

Some excellent vegetable garden designs (made using a gardening software) can be found on this squidoo page. A snapshot of the contents on this webpage is given below

If you've checked out the above link you would have an idea of how to come up with varied garden designs depending on the structure of your yard. Raised bed and container planting allows for interesting options and designs and they save up on space as well so you should consider inculcating them as a part of your vegetable garden.

You might also want to consider the below two methods of planting vegetables for better harvest.

1. Companion planting

vegetable garden layouts - intercropping companion planting
photo credit

There was a time when the Indians from North America planted corn, pole beans and squash together, the beans were nitrogen-fixers, the corn acted as a support for the bean plants and the squash was like a natural mulch (the spiny vine also prevented raccoons from entering the corn field). This method of planting one or more corps in close vicinity for the purpose of extracting mutual advantage is termed as companion planting.

Certain plants are known to grow well together as they mutually benefit each other. For example legumes being natural nitrogen fixers can be grow in combinations with plants requiring a nitrogen rich soil. There are plants that leech the acidic content of the soil making it helpful for the plants that grow better in less acidic conditions. African marigolds are known to act as natural pest repellants and can be companion planted with vegetable plants like lettuce for the same purpose.

"Intercropping" is similar to companion planting, here two types of plants are grown together because they have huge difference in maturity dates. By the time one plant grows enough to cause a space problem the other plant is ready to be harvested. For example, tomatoes and cabbages can be intercropped using this logic.

If you are interested you can refer to the list here for the various combinations that work well together. This list also mentions the plants that should not be planted together; this information is quite handy for beginners.

2. Succession planting

This might look a bit advanced to beginner vegetable gardener but in reality is quite simple and practical. The advantage of succession planting is that you can harvest through out the spring, summer and fall with just a little planning.

Succession planting is all about harvesting the quick maturity crops or cool-season crops and replacing them with warm-season crops and hence allowing the same space to yield a double harvest.

Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Cabbage, Collard, Kale, Onion, Spinach and shallot are cool-season crops that are very hardy, they can survive well in frost. Certain crops like lettuce, cauliflower, celery, endive and chard can handle cool weather (not high frost) but are intolerant to temperatures crossing 70 F. We can look at all these crops as cool-season crops.

The idea is to plant the cool season crops 3-5 weeks (depending on how hardy the crop is) before the date of the last frost, before the onset of summer these crops can be harvested and be replaced with warm season crops such as squash, tomatoes, sweet corn, eggplant and cucumber. This way you can utilize your garden space efficiently and end up harvesting twice in the planting season.

Be sure to check up with your local cooperative extension, nursery expert or a master gardener in your area regarding the various plants you can try for succession planting in your regions and the dates of seeding.

Go back to...

Section 1: Vegetable garden layout planting structures

Section 2: Creating the optimal environmental conditions