As in real estate and many other things location is an important factor in a successful organic garden. You may be thinking about starting an organic vegetable garden but are not sure how to decide where to put it. You may think that aesthetics is the main factor but whether or not it looks good in a certain place has little to do with how it will perform. Here are the main factors to consider in locating an organic vegetable garden.
*Sunlight, Plants have to have sunlight to carry out photosynthesis and especially plants that produce a root or a fruit. The rule of thumb is at least 8 hours of full sun a day to produce a root like carrots or a fruit like tomatoes. Plants that are grown for their leaves like lettuce or spinach can get by with less sun like 4 to 6 hours a day.
*Tree roots, Even if a tree is not shading the garden you will have problems if you have to contend with lots of tree roots. They will even grow into a raised bed over time.
*Soil Quality, This is something that can be overcome by adding soil to create a raised bed. When amending the soil that is there naturally you should always take a soil test. Most problems can be overcome with Compost and Lime to adjust the PH. See my post on soil Ph and what is good soil and potting soils for raised beds and containers
*Surface drainage, You don’t want water to collect around your garden. You want it to drain away.
*Percolation. How water moves down through the soil. You can do a percolation test by digging a hole 6 to 8 inches around and 12 inches deep. Fill the hole with water and measure how much water is left in the hole after 12 hours and after 24 hours. To have adequate drainage or percolation down into the soil you should have no more than 6 inches after 12 hours and no water after 24 hours. That equates to 1/2 an inch of drainage per hour. If it drains faster you can refill the hole with water and check it after an hour or two to calculate your drainage rate. If the percolation is too slow you can add soil to the bed to get above the existing soil.
*Problem weeds, You are always going to have some weeds but knowing what you have to start with will help. Perennial grasses like bermudagrass and deep rooted weeds like wild onions and nut grass will give you problems for years so try to eradicate those from the start.
*Access to water, All gardens need to be watered from time to time. Make water convenient to your garden or pipe some in. It will save you many steps later from having to bring it in with a watering can or bucket.
*Convenient to look at every day. If it is out of site it may be out of mind.
If you don’t have the ideal location don’t give up. You may need to garden in containers where you can move your garden around in the different seasons to catch the most sun. In containers you bypass your native soil and weed problems and drainage.
Follow my blog post every week for the other 7 steps to having a successful organic vegetable garden.