By Nikki Phipps
(Author of The Bulb-o-licious Garden)
Outside of common belief, there are actually many ways to design a vegetable garden. With the proper design and maintenance, there is no longer the need to hide your vegetable garden away from view. In fact, a well-designed vegetable garden can be quite attractive as well as functional.
Tips to Help Design a Vegetable Garden
For people who have plenty of time and space, the traditional garden plot is acceptable. These garden designs can be created strictly with long rows or broken down into smaller ones. While traditional designs do not always look like it, most can be a chore when it comes to the upkeep. To lessen some of the labor, however, mulch generously around crops as well as in between the rows to discourage weeds from eventually overtaking the garden.
Are you limited on space or just looking for something a little less demanding? Designing a garden in smaller plots with paths woven in between allows for easier reach and maintenance. Paths offer you the benefit of maneuvering around all sides of the garden without the worry of packing down the soil. This layout also will make harvesting your vegetables easier and gives your garden additional interest by taking away the wild and unkempt appearance of the traditional plots of rows.
Designing For Crop Rotation
Design your garden each year so that crop rotation is implemented to prevent diseases from appearing throughout seasons. To accomplish crop rotation, avoid growing the same vegetable in the same location more than once every three years. To encourage ongoing succession within the garden, try to group crops with similar planting and harvest dates. For even more beauty and extended blooms, mix in flowers and herbs.
Making The Vegetable Garden Look Pretty
Fill in empty areas of flower borders or beds with vegetables. For example, cherry tomatoes and ornamental peppers work well with flowers. Flowers also encourage pollinating insects, which are beneficial to most vegetables and can be used as screens to surround the garden. Some crops can even be grown simply as ornamentals alongside your flowers. For instance, rhubarb has lovely cream-colored flower stalks that fit in nicely with many plants. Once asparagus crops have faded, their feathery foliage looks quite nice in a flower border.
Adding unique features into the vegetable garden layout plan also can add more interest. You might try incorporating a bench, garden globe, or various garden ornaments to serve as interesting focal points. Within my own garden, I transformed an old mailbox into a haven for birds. Use a trellis or even a ladder as support for vine-growing plants, beans, and tomatoes. Depending on your particular design, water features, such as fountains, can offer additional beauty as well.
Companion Planting in the Vegetable Garden
Another benefit to growing vegetables with flowers is companion planting. This type of planting is ideal for reducing pest and disease problems within the garden. Plants with strong odors, such as marigolds or garlic, help deter insects. A good example of companion planting might include placing petunias with beans to repel bean beetles or marigolds with tomatoes to help fend off snails.
Consider Raised Beds
Designing vegetable gardens for smaller landscapes can also include the use of raised beds or containers as well. Raised beds are similar in most aspects to the smaller plots with the exception of the raised beds being elevated from the ground. These beds are usually ideal for root crops because of the looser soil with which raised beds tend to hold. Raised beds can adapt to nearly any location or shape, and they allow for better drainage.
Using Containers for Vegetables
Containers can fit into nearly any type of landscape as well and offer the freedom of changing the positioning at any point. They can accommodate vegetables of a larger size with ease while taking up hardly any space at all. This type of gardening is a perfect way for would-be gardeners without any other means of gardening to still enjoy a bountiful harvest of freshly grown vegetables.