When designing a vegetable garden, it pays to keep both design and practical considerations in mind. Vegetable gardens have traditionally been treated as utilitarian spaces, arranged according to best agricultural practices instead of decorative ones. It is possible, however, to have both a beautiful and highly productive garden.
Bed sizes can vary according to your space and how much you want to grow, but keep the bed’s width to no more than four feet for easy maintenance. Consider raised beds; they make controlling soil quality easier, warm up quickly in spring, and look neat. Make a sketch of your bed, then make several copies of it to plan for succession crops and to use next year. Crop rotation is important for good vegetable gardening, so divide your bed into four separate sections to make it easier. Many gardeners install fencing around the garden’s perimeter to keep garden pests out. A solid fence will create unwanted shade, so consider open designs like picket or wire. These can serve as structures on which to grow vining plants like peas and cucumbers or to tie up unruly cane plants like raspberries or blackberries.
Grow what you like to eat, but other things can guide your plant selection as well. Plan each of your four sections based on a theme, for instance, have one be a salad garden, one for pizza or pasta sauces, one for Asian cooking, and one for French recipes. Consider inter-planting flowers for use in arrangements.
When laying out your plantings, keep taller plants on the north side of your garden and shorter plants on the south to prevent crops from shading each other. Try not to plant all of a single variety together, which makes crops more attractive to pests. Some plants get along and some don’t, so do some research on companion planting at your local library. You don’t have to plant in rows; triangles, circles, even star shapes will add interest to your layout. Structures like tuteurs, teepees, even plants in decorative containers can serve as interesting focal points.