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Friday, November 23, 2018

Where to Dig Your First Vegetable Garden: All the Basics for a Great Start!

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Where to Dig Your First Vegetable Garden: 
All the Basics for a Great Start!

Welcome to the world of vegetable gardening! The first step toward a successful garden is selecting the right location.  You want a space that has a southern exposure to the sun. Remember the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. All in all, you want a minimum of 6 full hours of direct sun but 8 to 10 hours of direct sun will really meet the growing needs of all your plants.  Direct sun means a direct path from the sun to your plants.  Indirect light from the sun does not count. If your plants were to look up, they would see the sun for 6-10 hours directly shinning on them.  More sun is okay of course.

Using A Compass to Dig a Garden: The Rusted Garden

The best way to generally figure this out is by using a smart phone or a compass. You can use any compass application.  The key is to go out into your yard at noon on a fully sunny day. You want to see where the sun is hitting your yard at 12 PM. Remember trees without leaves, leave little shade.  We often start gardens before tree leaves appear. Trees have to be imagined with all their leaves on.

Look for Potential Shadows When Digging a Garden: The Rusted Garden

Go to the sunniest area  or the area you want for a garden and start the compass. You want to face directly south. That means your left side will be east and your right side will be west. Look east and imagine the sun rising and tracking from your left to right as it would set in the west. Since you are facing south, that is the space/path the sun will track. Look for trees and obstructions and recognize where shadows will fall on you garden.  This is a great way to start thinking about your garden placement.

If you have trouble with this concept or perhaps have some shade obstacles, you can also try this method. Pick the space as described above but also do a check on it the next day. Go out to the same spot at 10 AM, 12 PM, 2 PM and 4 PM. That covers an eight hour span. You can visually note if the sun is on the proposed garden spot during those times. Remember, you need 6-10 hours of direct sun. If shade falls on the garden during some of that time between 10-4, that is okay. You don't need continuous sun but do need the appropriate amount of hours  (in total) for your garden to flourish. 

6 to 10 Hours of Direct Sun: The Rusted Garden

Two things that are hard to correct are total hours of direct sun for obvious reasons and soggy soil. The latter can be addressed with some hard work. However, I also recommend making notes when storms come to your yard. Look to see where the storm run-off goes and where water sits. You want your garden to be in a place that drains quickly. What does that mean?  Puddling water should be gone from that area  in a couple hours after the storm ends.  Soggy soil, where water sits in the root zone, typically causes root rot, oxygen problems and other issues.  You don't want to dig 24 inches into your garden beds and see pooling water. Water should quickly drain deeply away into the soil after a couple hours.

These are the two basic concerns to address when you look for space to dig your first vegetable garden.  If you can check off the boxes - full sun and drains well... that is the perfect place to start your journey into the world of vegetable gardening!

Good Luck in Your Gardens

Gary (The Rusted Garden)

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