If you're on a quest for some organic vegetable garden design ideas, here are 3 unique tips to think about when planning a vegetable garden.
1. Remember beauty. Search "Google Images" for the term "vegetable garden" and you'll get hundreds of photos of square and rectangular vegetable gardens. And sure, there are a couple of advantages - they can be easier to water and measure.
But let's remember that it doesn't always have to be so formal. Your organic vegetable garden design layout can be beautiful. Your beds can be curvy and fit in nicely to your existing landscape. They can have some flowers in there for beauty and insect attraction. Remember beauty when planning your garden.
2. House Proximity. Likewise, vegetable gardening doesn't have to be banished to a back corner of your yard. If you study permaculture, you'll learn that the best place for an organic vegetable garden is often right outside the kitchen door - close by for daily harvesting and other tasks.
I like to integrate my vegetable garden designs into the landscape, right by the house, interspersing vegetables with flowers, shrubs and trees. I keep my compost pile close by, too, rather than hiding behind the shed. That way, I have compost nearby all season, which is handy because it allows me to regularly throw in my kitchen scraps without trudging to the back of the property, and I like to keep seeding some vegetables throughout the year. That brings me to planting...
3. Plant Densely And Informally. Still thinking about beauty, but also other benefits, I like to mix many species of plants together more naturally when planting a vegetable garden rather than having straight rows with just 1 species of plant each. The straight row approach is reminiscent of a farm field, while the mixed species approach is more of a natural, organic vegetable garden design layout.
You'll create a diverse soil food web ecosystem that keeps plant predators and weeds under control, and keeps the ground covered, cool and moist throughout the growing season. If you choose your plants carefully, they will benefit each other with shade, wind protection, nutrition and natural trellises (for example, beans can climb up corn and vetch can climb up ryegrass). Often, when I harvest something, I seed something else to replace it.
Do you have any design tips to share with us? Tell us something you always try to remember in your organic vegetable garden designs.
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My third tip is to plant things very densely and more informally, kind of keeping up with this aesthetic theme of a vegetable garden design layout but also for their other benefits to doing this.
So what I’ve done here, if we just take a look at this section here of the vegetable garden design layout that is out there in a really niceful sun, often, usually the way it is going to be done is something like this which I drawn in here.
Zoom in here.
See you can see we have straight rows of, you know, maybe our beans and our greens and cabbage and kale and carrots and things like that. Nice straight rows.
People sometimes will have a path going down between every rows so they can get right up to the plants, which is usually gonna be a waste of space in my opinion. But sometimes you know often they will, all the plants will grow perfectly nice together if you space them properly.
Now this is fine to plant things like this. It’s the traditional way of doing it. It kinda reminisce us how farm works, a field! You know you have the nice roads so that you can drive down them.
Well that is fine but what I want to do is something a little different with this vegetable garden design layout. So if I remove this, here is what I’ve done next as I planted more densely and much more informally.
So I’ve taken all those same plants, same number and I’ve just put them all in together very randomly and first of all I can get things more closely together if I plan cleverly so I can get a lot more out of space.
Now plants won’t necessarily get as big or produce as much on their own but, overall for this square footage I can get more products, more food coming out of there.
There are other benefits though, we have plants if we do this intelligently we can plant things so, some taller plants provide a little bit of afternoon shades for some smaller plants. Things like corn can act as a treluce for beans; or grass can act as treluce for vetch if you are doing more of a cover crop.
You know the soil is gonna stay covered a lot better. It will be moister, weeds would be controlled, plant predators will be controlled better, because there is so much diversity going on in here that you know, there is just not anyone pest is going to, would get a hold of something as well because you just have so much diversity going on.
Of course incorporated in here won’t just be vegetables, I would like to put some flowers in there that attracts certain beneficial insects and that maybe deters some other insects. Things like that! So I like to plant densely and informally like that too.
If you want to go a little more formal which is just fine, I’ve done another one here. You could see I am a little bit of a computer geek. I’ve done one here and I do a lot of my drawing in paper too for when I am designing but this is just easier to show you.
So here I’ve taken the exact same plants but I group them more like you might find in nature. And so kinda group things in cluster like you were going to do a few designing of your garden and that looks really nice. But it provides a little bit more of a naturally looking system and more density and you get a lot more plants in there than if you are just planting in rows, so lots of benefits to doing that.
So there are my three tips. The first one is trying to go forth or consider going for a more informal, nice curvy organic garden that really fits in with your existing garden instead of sitting out there on its own as a perfect breath taker.
Next one is bring it closer to the house. Right near the kitchen door if possible, bring your compose pile close there too, have your rain water barrel right there too. You know, think about all that kind of ecological design stuff where everything is right close nearby.
And then third one here is this. Plant densely, plant informally, get a bunch of stuff in there. As soon as I harvest something in during the summer, I am going to be seeding something or planting something else in there which is why I like the compose pile nearby.
So, always keep that nice dense, informal planting going on. So I hope those organic vegetable garden design tips have been helpful for you. If you have not picked up the 15 Vital Organic Gardening Lessons for Becoming a Better Organic Gardener, you can do that at smilinggardener.com right there on the main page. And I hope that’s been helpful for you, I’ll see you next week.