By Nikki Phipps
(Author of The Bulb-o-licious Garden)
How big a vegetable garden should be seems to be a common question among people who are considering taking on this task for the first time. While there is no right or wrong way to go about determining the size of your vegetable garden, the general answer is to start small. For starters, it is probably a good idea to figure out what you want to plant, how much you want to plant, and where you want to plant it before you do anything. Garden sizes also depend on the availability of space and how suitable the landscape is for growing plants.
Find the Best Vegetable Garden Size for You
Normally, a garden of about 10 feet by 10 feet is considered to be manageable, provided your landscape permits the space. You should try sketching out a small diagram noting the area of each vegetable to be planted. If something a little less is preferred, try working vegetables within smaller sized plots. Since there are many vegetables that are also considered ornamental in appearance, there is no need to hide them from view. In fact, nearly any vegetable can be grown right into your own flower beds as well as in containers.
While you want your garden to be large enough to suit your basic needs, you don’t want it to be so big that it eventually becomes too demanding. Most people do not have time to deal with all the maintenance and attention a larger vegetable garden requires. As the saying goes, temptation is the root of all evil; therefore, plant only what you will actually need or use. Resist the urge of planting too many crops; you will end up paying for it later with backbreaking maintenance, such as weeding, irrigating and harvesting.
For example, if you only want tomatoes and cucumbers, then try incorporating these plants into containers. There are numerous varieties to choose from; the bush cucumbers and cherry tomatoes, for example, not only do well in containers but can look quite lovely, too. Putting your cucumbers and tomatoes in containers will cut out unnecessary work that would otherwise be involved if you chose to plant these crops in a plot with other vegetables that you may not even use.
An alternative approach might include the use of small raised beds. You could start out with one or two beds of your chosen vegetables. Then when time and experience permits, you can add another bed or two. For instance, you could choose to have one bed entirely for your tomatoes and the other for your cucumbers. The following year you might want to try your hand at growing squash or beans. By adding more beds, or containers, this expansion can be achieved easily.
If you plan accordingly, your garden will require less maintenance and will result in more productivity. As it is ultimately your garden, the size will depend on your individual needs as well as those of your landscape. Anything is possible; don’t be afraid to experiment. Once you have found a manageable size and layout that works for you, stick with it. In time you will find that you get better and better and so do your vegetables!