The way to the first own vegetable garden is not difficult. Here you can read what important aspects to consider when planning and creating the system.
More and more young garden beginners are discovering their own vegetable garden as the basis for self-sufficiency with healthy, home-grown vegetables. But if you create a vegetable garden without planning, you will inevitably make a mistake or two, the correction of which can be quite complex afterwards. Therefore, we explain the most important steps from planning to creating and planting a vegetable garden for you.
Vegetable garden: size, location and microclimate
A family of four gets by with skilful cultivation planning with around 150 square meters of bed area for self-sufficiency with vegetables. For the area-intensive cultivation of potatoes, however, at least an additional 50 square meters must be planned. But even in less space you can always supplement the menu in season with salads, vegetables and fresh herbs from your own harvest.
Only the sunniest place in the garden can be used to create a vegetable garden. A lot of sun has a very favorable effect on growth, aroma and healthy ingredients. Hardly any vegetables grow in the shade – not even tuber and root plants such as potatoes and carrots, because their leaves also need sunlight. When growing vegetables that naturally tend to accumulate nitrate – primarily salads and spinach – a sunny location is an essential requirement. The harmful nitrate is stored in the leaves, especially in the absence of light. With good exposure, you can also make optimal use of the entire growing season, including the often cloudy, less light spring and autumn days.
The climate cannot be influenced – you have to live with the temperatures and rainfall that prevail in the region. It is all the more important, however, that you later adapt your plant selection to the prevailing conditions. Anyone who lives in a wine-growing region can choose almost any type of vegetable, including heat-loving fruit vegetables such as eggplants and peppers. The range is somewhat limited in harsh climates and higher altitudes. Heat-loving vegetables with a long cultivation period, tomatoes, for example, are better grown in the greenhouse under glass.
The no less important microclimate can, however, be optimized very well: for example, a fence with a loose hedge or a planted fence is ideal, so that strong winds are slowed down, but the beds get a gentle breeze. A very wind-exposed location is just as unfavorable as an overly protected location. Constant wind lowers the temperature, dries out the soil and thus reduces the growth rate of the plants. Total lack of wind promotes the spread of pests and fungal diseases.
Plan bed areas and paths in the vegetable garden
A drawn plan is very helpful in order to be able to precisely determine the size and dimension of the vegetable garden. After all, a vegetable garden not only contains beds, but also paths, storage areas, a composting area and possibly also a greenhouse, cold frames or a garden shed. You should also plan a water connection or a well in a central location and create it at the same time if the vegetable garden is not directly next to the house – more watering water is usually required here than in a normal ornamental garden.
The most important dimension for planning the layout of a vegetable garden is the number and width of the beds. So that the plants can be cared for and harvested later, the vegetable beds should not be wider than 120 centimeters. The bed length, however, plays a subordinate role and can be kept variable. But you should give all beds a uniform size – for example, six square meters (1.20 x 5 meters). This makes crop rotation easier later on, as you can change the bed every year without having to change the mixed culture within the bed. So you always harvest about the same amounts of different types of vegetables. 25 beds of this size are to be planned in order to cover an area of almost 150 square meters. In addition, a larger contiguous area should be planned for the cultivation of potatoes, for example 5 x 10 meters.
The main paths in the vegetable garden should be designed as a central crossroads or double cross, modeled on the classic cottage garden, which divides the bed areas into segments of approximately the same size. A width of at least one meter has proven itself for the main paths, so that you can walk comfortably with the wheelbarrow. Plan a narrower path, around 60 to 70 centimeters wide, between the bed areas and the garden garden. You can safely sacrifice this space for this, as the vegetables would not grow so well anyway close to the hedge or the overgrown fence. You also need a narrow path here to cut the hedge or to maintain the fence planting.
The intersection in the middle of the acreage is a good way to create a central water connection here. From the house connection you can lay an underground pipe with a water socket here or set up a groundwater well on the spot. Note that in the latter case you also need a power connection that supplies the submersible pump in the well shaft with energy.
Storage areas, composting areas and garden or greenhouses are best placed in the edge area of the vegetable garden – but in such a way that they are easily accessible from the main path. The north side of the vegetable garden is ideal for tall buildings or small fruit trees, because this way they do not cast shadows on the vegetable patches. Above all, do not plan the compost space too small: you need three sufficiently large containers and enough space for the wheelbarrow for efficient composting. Here, too, the location would be favorable for a fruit tree, because it provides some shade in hot summers and thus ensures that the compost does not dry out too much.
Lay water pipe and main routes
When the planning is done, the implementation begins. If necessary, it starts with laying the supply lines for the water connection. Dig a trench about 40 centimeters deep under the planned main path and put the water supply in it. Depending on your needs, you can connect a central water socket (for example from Gardena) at the end, or you can interpose several cans. They are installed at floor level and have a cover flap so that they can also be installed in pathways.
When the water supply is stopped, the course of the main routes is marked out. Lift the earth about ten centimeters deep in the area of the path and frame the edges with a continuous steel edge. The metal strips are driven vertically into the earth in order to achieve a clear separation between the path and the bed area. Steel edges are the easiest to install, but alternatively you can also lay concrete curbs, so-called lawn rims, as path limitation. They should be aligned straight along a cord, tapped well and provided with a so-called back support on the bed side. It is a backfill made of earth-moist concrete that stabilizes the stones. After all edges have been set, the surface of the path surfaces is well compacted with a hand tamper. Then lay a firm geo fleece between the edges of the path and apply a layer of grit about five centimeters high as a path covering. Grit is more suitable than gravel because it is easier to walk on. The stones do not give as much under the tread load as the round pebbles because they are better wedged together. Make sure that the path surface is about five centimeters below the top edge of the side boundaries.
How can you enclose a vegetable garden?
Depending on the location and climatic situation, the vegetable garden should at least partially be fenced with a hedge or a fence. A semi-closed, 120 cm high construction is best suited as a fence, as it brakes the wind well. If the vegetable garden is created in an existing garden, there is usually a suitable fence. On large plots, it can still make sense for design reasons to separate the vegetable garden again so that it can be used as an independent garden room. A vegetable protection network is also available to protect against pests.
Create a composting area in the vegetable garden
In the vegetable garden it is worth composting organic waste from the house and garden. The compost is an important source of nutrients and with its humus improves the quality of the garden soil
The subsoil of the compost site is not sealed so that earthworms and other soil organisms can migrate into the compost to decompose it. In addition, excess moisture can seep directly into the earth. If possible, do not set up the composter as three individual containers, but build a three-chamber system with two partition walls – this not only saves material but also space. The simplest constructions consist of vertically hammered wooden corner posts, between which metal grids are stretched. On the front, the three chambers can be closed with wooden planks. Another popular and very durable construction is a brick three-chamber composter. The walls are built on a foundation of clinker bricks and mortar, although a wide space is left between each brick for ventilation.
How do you prepare the ground for the vegetable beds?
The beds are only planted when everything else is ready. In the first step, remove the existing vegetation – usually lawn or meadow – and then dig the soil at least to the depth of the creek. On loamy, compacted soils, two deep digging, the so-called Dutch, is recommended. In doing so, remove all existing root weeds such as mercury or Giersch as thoroughly as possible. If the soil is very loamy, you should then apply a lot of coarse sand to make it more permeable. We recommend a layer at least ten centimeters high, which is then worked in superficially with a cultivator. Depending on the nature of the earth, you now apply humus. Leafy humus is best suited for loamy soils, for sandy soils it is better to use mature garden compost because it does not acidify the soil as much.
A planting cord makes it easier to put the bulbs in the ground
It has proven useful to only grow potatoes in the new vegetable garden in the first season. The potatoes loosen the soil and cover the entire bed area with their lush foliage, so that the weeds are reliably suppressed. After harvesting in late summer, a suitable green manure is sown for further soil improvement. After chopping them off, raking them together and adding them to the compost in the spring of the second season, the vegetable garden is ready for your first vegetables. Now distribute about three liters of ripe compost per square meter and then work through the entire bed area with the saucer. Then the soil is further crumbled with a cultivator and a rake until a fine-grained seed bed is created. Now sow the desired vegetables in beds and lay out about 30 cm wide wooden boards between the 120 cm wide beds as provisional paths.
Another tip at the end: keep a garden diary right from the start, in which you note exactly in which bed you sowed or planted what at what time. Such a cultivation plan is very helpful in order to be able to strictly adhere to the annual crop rotation and to prevent replication diseases and one-sided leaching of the soil.