When planning where to plant your crops, there are several factors to consider. The first and most basic factor to consider is how much sun or shade your crop requires. You can find that information on your seed packets. Another good thing to consider is the drainage. Some crops like to keep their roots soaking wet whereas some will rot and whither without adequate drainage. Unfortunately for us, our neighbors added on to their house and the water from their new roof floods parts of our property during heavy rains. My first vegetable garden here was pretty pathetic because I didn’t know that was going to happen. They also drained their pool last summer and let it flood our yard and garage last year. Sometimes it’s hard to resist petty, passive aggressive neighborhood warfare. Many permaculture designers recommend observing your property for a year before you do anything with it. I wish I had followed their advice. To help with our drainage issue, the following year I built three raised beds in the area where drainage is poor. This solved my problem and I’m able to utilize that area. If you live in a setting where your neighbors are close-by, keep in mind that sometimes they might make decisions that will adversely affect what you’re trying to accomplish. As if the unpredictability of the weather didn’t make it hard enough. *sigh*
Something else for you to consider is companion planting. Some of you may have heard of it, but for those who haven’t I’ll give you a quick overview. Companion planting is planting your crops in close proximity to others that either help them grow or ward off pests. Some plants can hinder each other’s growth, health, and potential harvest. It doesn’t involve only vegetables and fruits. It also incorporates herbs, flowers, and more. For example, marigolds and nasturtiums are natural deterrents for certain pests. For charts and more info on companion planting, just mosey on over to google.
To increase how much you get out of your garden, plan a different layout for the spring, summer, and fall. Some crops prefer the chillier days of spring and fall, and they are ready to harvest before summer crops need to take their place or winter plunges us into freezing temps. Below is my plan for the spring and summer. I haven’t decided if I’ll do a fall plan this year because I might be occupied with other endeavors. In case you don’t see me in real life very often or at all, I’ll take this opportunity to tell you that we might be moving in a year. It isn’t completely settled, but I still plan to work on the house as if it is. That way if it does happen, it isn’t a complete sh*t show to get moved.
My spring layout includes crops that will either be harvested before summer or remain in their spot for the rest of the growing season. Be sure to check the days to maturity to determine if your crop needs a permanent spot, or will be out of the way for summer crops. This year’s temporary spring crops include: peas, radishes, spinach, and lettuce. The crops that will grow throughout the summer include: brussels sprouts, carrots, leeks, broccoli, kale, and onions.
My summer layout includes crops that will either be harvested during the summer or fall months. I’m still unsure if I’ll try to do sweet potatoes and/or potatoes this year. So they might get squeezed in here somewhere. I need the grassy areas for the rabbits and since we might be moving soon, I don’t want to eat up anymore of the lawn. So space is very limited right now.
Some of you might be wondering how I made this layout of our yard and how you can do it too. First, I attempted to sketch it out on paper, but it’s really hard to get an accurate and easily editable version with that method. So, I turned to google maps and took a screenshot of our property. Then I took it into adobe illustrator. If some of you don’t know, my background is in graphic design and marketing. So naturally, I use professional design programs since I have them and the required skills. You can probably find free programs out there if you do some searching. Or, I would be willing to create a layout for you for a reasonable price.
For my illustrator owning friends, here’s how I went about it. First I created layers for all the permanent structures and features of our property. First I did the lawn and sidewalks. Then I filled in the house, garage, trees, bushes, compost pile, and gardens. Then I created a final layer for crops and labels. This method makes it easy to add or remove as necessary. Note: the number of dots don’t necessarily indicate how many of each plant will be there. They’re just a place holder.
If you have any questions about the process of creating a layout, or you want one designed, please let me know!