Selecting site for vegetable garden

Most vegetables are best when grown steadily and quickly. Plants which are slow in reaching maturity are often tough and not so well-flavoured as those grown rapidly. A vegetable plot therefore needs a number of special qualities, as far as the area permits.

Image Credit: Freefoto

Firstly, it should be on a gentle south-facing slope. In this way it will get the heat of the early sun, water will not lie on the surface of the soil, and it will be protected to some extent from cold north and north-east winds. The sunniest and the best-drained area will naturally be the spot where growth begins and is most rapid so it should be reserved for early crops. Try also to avoid shade and drips from overhanging trees.

Secondly, if there is a choice of site, it is best to locate the vegetable plot near the kitchen, as vegetables have to be picked and gathered in all weathers and on a wet day it is much easier if the walk in the rain is short and dripping vegetables are not carried through the house. If you plan to grow a few herbs such as thyme or mint or parsley, station these immediately at the kitchen door, where the cook can pick a few sprigs whenever necessary.

Thirdly, the plot should be given straight edges if possible and provided with a good path or paths. The ideal shape is rectangular so that all the drills can be straight lines to make sowing or planting easy. Many small gardeners prefer to screen the vegetable plot from the rest of the garden and maybe even from the house; if you do this, arrange the screening plants (which can be low fruit bushes or cordons) so that they shed the minimum of shade per day.