Garden Plot Location is the FIRST thing to consider before you break ground. Garden plot location is foundational to a successful gardening experience.
Never planted a vegetable garden? Give it a try. Gardening feeds your family and your soul. Healthy living through gardening is a whole body experience! Homemade Cooking can start right in your garden.
Maybe you do have a garden plot and it needs to be moved for some reason. We have done this. It’s a TON of work and we eventually moved the garden back to it’s old spot. Believe us we know how hard this is. Learn from us. Think it through BEFORE you decide on your garden placement.
So, what to do first? Ask yourself Where shall you plant it?
Garden Plot location Considerations are a really big deal. Your garden will be much easier and way more fun to operate if you think out a good spot to start it. Starting a garden is a LOT of work. To get a year or so into a garden and decide to move it (I have done this) is self defeating.
I moved our garden one year to improve the sunlight to it. We had several fruit trees planted too close to the garden plot you see and our tomato blight problem was terrible. So The kids and I moved the garden to another area. It was a TON of work. It was too far away and had other issues. Now we are back in the original plot with better light( we cut down some trees), raised garden beds and the Lasagna gardening method. Much better.
BUT when we moved it back to the old garden plot we went all in. We made a LOT of improvements to this site over time that really helped it become the garden plot we wanted. Browse our garden posts to see our story and the changes we made. We show you how we did it and what helped. Still a work in progress. The garden is never done. We love the dynamic creative process of growing our own food.
Put your permanent garden plot in an area with lots of space to expand. The exception to this is if you have a very small lot or are gardening on a patio. Then use raised beds and containers with square foot gardening. Start small. You can grow a lot in a small area if you square foot garden in raised beds. As you learn what you enjoy you can expand the plot size to grow more veg.
Our garden plot is right where the people that started this garden project in 1948 put it. Clarence and Elva and their four teenagers gardened here for decades, sold out to another family of EIGHT. In 1985 we bought this little piece of heaven and raised our five kids on this garden’s produce. A LOT of food has traveled through this garden plot in all those years. Clarence and Elva Also planted that HUGE black Walnut tree on the South side of our garden. It was just tiny in 1948 now it’s a really big shade tree on the wrong side. Always plan ahead!
Building a garden is a long term investment of time, money and energy. It pays back big time in food quality, hobby value, creativity and fun. Planting, growing, harvesting and maintaining a garden is a great family project, a healthy way to live and VERY EDUCATIONAL FOR THE KIDS. It’s well worth the time to do some planning before you start this project.
Successful Garden plot location considerations:
- Locate an area that will work for your garden for years without major problems. Consider long term problems first.
- Identify problems spots in your yard and keep your garden plot AWAY from them. AVOID:
- Walnut trees. Walnut trees release a chemical into the soil that makes it very difficult for other plants to grow around it. (Our black Walnut tree is barely far enough away).
- Large trees and shrubs. They will compete for nutrients, water and sunlight, and your garden will suffer. If you have young bushes or trees make sure you plan for the adult height they will attain. We have had to cut down some of our mature fruit trees because we planted them too close to our garden and they grew into shade monsters 🙁
- Areas that are endangered by neighbors or city applied pesticides or herbicide drift or water run off. If you are planting a small plot in an urban area this requires some thought. You might want to explore the concept of a Community garden if you live in a apartment, condo or HOA neighborhood with restrictive rules or noxious spray happy neighbors.
- Low wet areas of undrained soil (That’s what happened at our house) or other poor conditions. Improving a poorly placed garden is hard work!
- Try to keep your garden plot placement convenient for you to work and harvest. If you have never gardened before put in a small raised bed on your deck or patio close to your kitchen or garage door if you can. Get those greens close to you and keep the garden small until you get the hang of it!
Gardens plots MUST have sufficient light exposure, healthy soil and access to water in order to grow healthy vegetables.
Look at this soil. If you ever wondered what clay soil is. This is it! Compact clumps of clay. Not good for growing a garden. But that is our garden soil. This is where most of our gardening problems have come from over the years. Raised beds are a good solution for poor soil like this!
Three Keys To Vegetable Garden Success!
A good loam is best. Pick up a handful of the moist, not wet, dirt you wish to garden and give it a squeeze. Open your hand and look at what you have.
If it crumbles completely, assuming some moisture is in the soil, you have almost pure sand. Best for a kids sand box. It will be likely to lose water and nutrients fast! Also, there is not normally a good nutrient content in very sandy, loose soil. Plan on getting a lot of compost and amendments into the soil before you garden it.
The other extreme, is when you open your hand, the soil forms a greyish color, gummy ball or you think it’s rocks when dry but are amazed to discover it’s actually clumps of very hard dirt! Welcome to my world! This is very tough to fix. We have tried for decades to get just the right balance of amendments into our garden and….still working on it. On the positive side. Clay really hold moisture a long time. So you have a long wait in the spring to get it workable but in late summer not so much watering for you! Especially if you mulch!
If you have to use a pick ax to get the handful of soil into your hand due to rocks, make it a driveway instead! Or if it’s otherwise a perfect garden location, build Raised garden beds right on top of it!
Of course, we all hope that your soil stays in your hand and fills it with dark, loamy stuff full of worms and other signs of life. If so…assuming it’s not a toxic dump site or in the shade all day: You can grow good food in there! Dave Amends his soils this way.
Depending on what crops you intend to grow and where you live, your garden requires direct sunlight for about 6 to 8 hours a day. Granted, in a single garden plot the sunlight will change over a season, even over a DAY as to intensity, duration and effectiveness for optimal garden growth. This depends on the light and heat preferences of the crops you are growing. Some crops, like kale, love the cool and will tolerate lower light conditions. Others, like peppers and tomatoes, are gluttons for heat and light!
This is where your knowledge of local garden tips and tricks and your crops needs come into play. I have a link in the bottom of this post to help you find your local climate zone and local cooperative extension service for further information about your local conditions and gardening strategies. A good local nursery or gardening group will also help you.
Gardening is so fun and creative. Always something to learn!
Our garden is full of kale, broccoli, kohlrabi, and other delicious leafy greens perfect for green juice! We love our raised garden beds and gravel walks. We STILL get lots of weeds in our garden! But the raised beds are EASY to manage!
Watering a garden can be a big deal so pay attention to this when you think through your other necessaries. You need to be able to get a soaker hose down the beds or an automatic watering system(preferable for water saving, retaining nutrients in the soil and efficiency for you.) or… a sprinkler as a last resort, Although they waste a good deal of water. If you really love to water your plants, have LOTS of time and energy, or children? you can haul it back and forth from your distant water source with a watering can.
Hand watering does have things to recommend it.
- You get really close to your plants so you can see how they are doing up close and personal. Great for finding problems before they get out of hand, like aphid infestations, and ripe veggies(like peas and pole beans) that get lost easily in the leaves of the plant! Not practical for really huge plots but fine for smaller gardens. You decide!
- We installed an Aqua tech watering system into our outdoor garden this year. It’s a drip watering system that is very efficient and inexpensive! We LOVE it! So efficient and makes watering time go WAY down! I couldn’t find Aqua Tech on Amazon but this FreeHawk automatic system looks similar. This type of system allows you to design a perfect custom setup for your garden and greenhouse as long as you can run a garden hose to it.
Other Considerations for First Time Gardeners!
Dave amends his soil every year in his raised garden beds from his compost pile, coffee grounds and eggshell stash. You can see we have huge Western Red Cedar trees close to the garden. These are on the north side. They don’t block sunlight.
We are slowly adding raised beds to our garden. We love them! Our garden has four huge raised beds now. Our strawberries, asparagus, celery, leafy greens, cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli are much easier to weed, harvest and keep a weather eye on for bugs in the raised beds.
We still use our ground beds for corn, beans, peas, potatoes, onions, garlic, leeks, squash and pumpkins.
Our garden in spring 2015. We have good morning light, some southern exposure and direct afternoon sun from the West.
Dave is hooping a couple of our raised beds (click the link to see how he does it) to grow his peppers with plastic to protect the young plants from our cool spring nights and mornings. Look at the lovely graveled walks around our raised beds! We have replaced our garden tiller with the Lasagna Gardening method of gardening. It’s working great and so much less work!
Garden Plot Location is all about where you live. Your light index is unique to your local, so is your climate, water and soil.
- KNOW YOUR USDA GARDEN ZONE; click the link to find yours. We live in garden zone 8a. Here is an Wikipedia article on hardiness zones and how they can help you determine what grows well in your area and what the plant needs are in your garden zone.
- Find your local cooperative extension service or a local garden nursery for local expert help in your area. They offer a wealth of local expert help and training for gardeners. They can help you figure out a garden plot placement too!
- Correct Garden plot location gets you off to a good start on a successful garden!