Choosing a garden site is as important as choosing the vegetables you’ll grow. All vegetables need fertile, well-drained soil, but a garden also needs to be convenient for you.
Sunlight is the most important element in your garden. Wherever possible, select a garden site that gets sun all day long. Many vegetables need a minimum of six hours of sunshine. Plants can become weak and sick if they don’t get enough sunlight. As best you can, locate your garden away from trees and large shrubs, which can block sunlight.
The soil in your garden plot should be loose and well-draining. A gradual slope can help with drainage. When soil doesn’t drain well, it stays wet and cold late into the spring, making it hard to grow early-season vegetables. Standing water is also not good. If your soil is heavy and stays wet long after rain has stopped, you can grow vegetables in raised beds instead. Raised beds will be better drained, and they’ll warm earlier. We’ll talk more about raised beds in an upcoming post.
Although it might seem counter-intuitive, weeds are a good sign in a potential garden site. They show that your soil can support plant life. The healthier the weeds or grass growing on the site, the better the soil will be for vegetables after you clear the plot.
As much as possible, locate your garden where there’s good air flow. Stagnant, humid, warm air creates ideal conditions for problems such as tomato blight, mildew on squash, or mold on green beans. On the other hand, try to situate your garden in a place that’s not overly windy. Wind dries out plants.
As you decide which site is best for your garden, keep in mind the adage “out of sight, out of mind.” You’ll want to be able to easily see or visit your garden every day, making it convenient to plant, maintain and harvest.
Lastly, match your vision with realities. It's better to start with a small garden plot than to go big and find you don't have the time or energy to care for your vegetables. If space permits, you can always expand later.
Next up: Map your garden