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Locating and placing your vegetable garden

Where you locate your vegetable patch can have a big impact on your degree of success. Most people plant their vegetable patch in the corner or edge of a property so it doesn't interrupt the overall attractiveness of a garden. Unless you live in a tropical or sub tropical climate you should throw away the old "vegies by the fence" conventional thinking. Vegetables love a sunny open position. Watch where the sun penetrates through and around buildings, shrubbery and fences before choosing your site.

Regardless of where you live your vegetable patch should be located away from trees. Their shade and roots can play havoc if you position the patch too close to them.

You might also consider designing your patch with a windbreak in mind. This is important when protecting taller crops like corn and broadbeans. During the summer of '97 we had a number of storms with strong winds that flattened our sweet corn. I ended up having to stake them for support because we didn't have a windbreak to the south.

If possible plan to have your vegetable garden close to your kitchen (you'll be thankful when you have to run back inside from the rain). You're also more inclined to use your own vegetables and herbs when you can see them from your kitchen window.

And of course, don't forget to locate your patch close to a water supply.

Try to locate your patch on level ground. Unless the level ground is low lying which can create drainage problems. When positioning the rows on level ground it's best to run the rows north to south.

Now I'll start getting into directions and climates. This might get confusing unless I specify things.

Depending on your location the amount of preferred sun can vary. A vegetable patch in cool and temperature climates should be positioned to get at least 6 hours of sun a day. Here in Queensland (sub-tropical and tropical) less direct sunlight is very important in summer. Otherwise your vegetables will flop no matter how much mulch and water you give them. Pumpkins, cucumbers and cabbages seem particularly prone to the heat.

Our vegetable patch is located next to a terrace of young fruit trees, and further back some native full grown trees. This helps cut down the amount of sunlight from the hot westerly summer sun. It does create problems though in winter when one bed probably doesn't get enough direct sun.

If you're in the southern hemisphere if possible try to grow with a north or north easterly aspect. If you're in the northern hemisphere try for a south or south easterly aspect. This way your vegetable patch will catch the most amount of sun.

Its also important to consider your block of land. Micro climates can dramatically effect your vegetable patch. We live on the top of a hill, so cold air doesn't create a problem for us. Some growers might have some problems though if they locate their patch in a gully. Here temperatures can drop dramatically which can kill off frost sensitive crops in the lead up to winter. If you're building your vegetable patch on a slope you might need sleepers to prevent soil erosion. Run your rows across the slope, not up or down the slope.

I guess vegetables are a lot like people. Where would you rather be, out in the warmth of the spring sun for 6 hours or stuck in the shade? Keep to this principle and it'll be difficult for you to go wrong.

 

Last updated 23 October, 2008

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