Let’s pretend it’s finally nice outside. No snow, biting wind, or frozen ground. Your seedlings are almost ready to be planted so you decide, today is the day you’re going to plant! As you walk outside you smell the warmth in the air as the world comes back from its winter hibernation. The birds are out again, singing an ode to new life springing up from the earth. You walk into your yard, determined with shovel in hand only to stop suddenly and ask yourself, where are you going to dig? How big is your garden going to be? Where would be ideal locations for certain plants? What materials will be needed?
These are the questions that should be raised before you pick up the shovel, and arguably even before you select your plants. Because digging a plot from scratch actually takes a lot of work and it pays off to be prepared and plan ahead. You can get an image in mind of where you want to place certain plants and what you may need for those plants (e.g. arbor, supports, trellis), then you can start collecting the materials you need instead of scrambling to find or buy them at the last minute. For example, I know I’m going to want an arbor for my cucumbers so Jordan picked up a large pallet from our local furniture store that we could use to create our arbor with.
I took the picture of the part of the yard I’ll be using to draw out where I’ll be planting certain things. This is what I came up with:
The main reason these plants are placed where they are in this image is based on sun and shade. Mostly all of my plants need sun except for the lettuce which I put on the right end of the plot because it gets shade from a neighboring tree. When you’re looking at the garden, you’re facing north so the sun comes up from the right side of the garden and down on the left.
I want to plant the cucumbers on the left side of the garden because the arbor I will use to support them will cast a shadow. Because they’re on the end, the arbor won’t be putting any other plants in the shade. I will be planting corn in the section to the right of the cucumbers because it is also a tall plant and it’s shade will be cast only on the cucumbers (which will be higher on the arbor by the time the corn gets big) and on the fence behind the plot. Beans will be to the right of the corn because they will be supported by a wire fence, which by the time they vine have crept up the fence, will cast shade on the already tall corn. I have not grown green beans or sugar snap peas before so am unsure how tall they will actually get. If any of you more season gardeners out there think they’ll cast too much shade on the corn, please let me know! This is the type of support I’m thinking of using for the beans (the fence) but the fence will be facing the opposite direction in my plot:
As my drawing of the plot shows, the tomatoes will be next to the beans because they will have tomato cages for support and will also cast shade. Move on down the drawing to the right and you will find the hot peppers, sweet peppers, strawberries, green onions and lettuce. These are on the right side because they don’t require any sort of support that will cast a shadow on another plant. Another thing to note, most gardeners do not like to put hot peppers and sweet peppers next to each other because they often cross pollinate and your sweet peppers get a small kick of spice to them. I decided it wouldn’t be a big deal if my peppers cross pollinated because, once again, my family enjoys spicy!
Don’t worry, I didn’t forget about the sunflowers. I have planned to place these to the back of the garden so when they become the 6 feet tall they’re supposed to be, they’ll only be casting shade on the fence behind them.
Next week I will continue my planning for my garden by talking about materials. Stay tuned! Until then, please post any suggestions or concerns in regards to where I am placing my plants.