Small landscaped Garden IDEAS
Backyard Vegetable Garden
"Our Backyard Food Factory"This is how our family refers to our small backyard vegetable garden. In just 500 sq.ft. (20' x 25'), we enjoy a wealth of fresh vegetables up to eight months of the year. Working in the garden is also a shared experience for the family, and instills in children an understanding of the natural cycles of growth which provide lessons of lifelong value. Consider the benefits of growing your own vegetables at home: - lowers the cost of providing your family with healthy, organic vegetables
- reduces the environmental impact of transporting and warehousing food
- makes your meals more personal, interesting
- connects your family to the natural cycles of weather, growth and renewal
- provides wholesome activity and lasting memories for your children
Garden Layout: siting and size
Ideally, a backyard vegetable garden should contribute to your family's well-being without taking too much of your scarce free time. This can be achieved with a little planning to get started out right, and a commitment to low-maintenance organic methods which save time and ensure a healthy garden year after year.
Whether you are growing a single bed for salad greens or a multiple bed "backyard food factory", the following tips should be considered before you start digging.• garden size - the size you choose for your vegetable garden will be determined by the amount of available space and the amount of energy you wish to commit to the project. Even a 100 sq.ft. garden, grown intensively, can produce a steady supply of salad greens for a family.
Our backyard garden is 20' x 25' (500 sq. ft.), and this is an ideal size which provides a variety of vegetables for a family of four, with enough extra to share with neighbors.
• orientation to sun and shade - the plants in your garden will want to face south, and will require a minimum of 5 hours of direct sunlight per day. Observe the path of shadows during the day from any trees, fences, tall objects or adjacent buildings in your yard. Sunlight calculators are available which give you a more precise measurement of sun exposure for choosing ideal planting locations. The area of maximum continuous light will likely be the best location for your garden.
• proximity to trees, root systems - besides the shading effects of trees, consider the spread of their roots. Locate your garden plot at least 10' beyond the drip line of any nearby trees. If you must grow close to any trees, you may need to dig a barrier around your garden to block root incursions. This can be done by digging a narrow trench to hard clay, or at least deeper than existing roots. Set a sheet of galvanized metal roofing, or any inert heavy material which roots cannot penetrate, on edge. Then fill in the trench with the barrier material even with the soil level or slightly above.
• envision future trees - planning on adding fruit trees in the future? Plan for them now, by envisioning a 20' root spread, and the future shading effect of the tree.
• wind exposure - in windy areas, a fence or berm can serve as a wind barrier.
• if land is sloped, you will need to terrace the beds. The beds should be level or you will encounter problems with uneven water distribution and erosion. To terrace a bed, build up the low side with boards, flat rocks or wood slabs which are often available for free at sawmills.
• anticipate future crop rotations - reserve space for an extra bed for next season's use, where some of your plantings will be relocated. When not in use, this bed should be planted in a 'green manure' cover crop which builds soil tilth and adds nutrients while keeping the bed free of weeds.
Garden Bed and Soil Preparation
Any seasoned gardener knows that successful gardening is all about the soil. Once your beds are prepared and the soil is enriched and ready to plant...