If you are new to growing your own, then you may feel a little overwhelmed by working out where to plant everything. So, first off, let us say that we have seen very successful veg plots where sweetcorn, squashes, artichokes, broad beans, carrots, herbs and tomatoes are all crammed in to a single bed at random to grow freely (with grass and dandelions packed in tightly too). There really is no right or wrong so don’t fret over it all too much. Below are a few pointers that might help.
As a general rule it is easiest to group plant types together in beds as this allows you to care for them in a similar way. For example, brassicas will benefit from netting, root vegetables will need nice loose soil, peas and beans will need more frequent watering than carrots and parsnips and so on.
To keep it really simple, we would recommend having a separate bed (or zone within a bed) for the following plant groups:
Potatoes & Roots – parsnips, carrots, beetroot, celeriac (turnips/swede could go here too)
Brassicas – cabbages, kales, cauliflower, broccoli (turnips/swede are technically brassicas but you may prefer to keep them with the roots)
Onions & Leeks – leeks, spring onions, onions, garlic (it’s easier to keep on top of weeds if they are in their own little area)
Then you can be a bit more relaxed over where you plant other things like salads and lettuces, beans and peas which can easily mingle together or be popped between other rows of veg.
Plant in blocks or rows
Choose whichever way you prefer - either a single row of each veg (running north to south is best to give them good access to sunlight) or in blocks, eg 3 shorter rows with plants arranged in a grid.
Put taller veg at the back
Bear in mind where the sun will be and put shorter plants at the front, closer to the sun, and taller plants at the back. This will allow the sunshine to reach all your crops and promote better growth. These are the tallest:
- Climbing beans
- Jerusalem Artichokes
- Globe Artichokes
Give plants space
If planting in beds, try to give your plants the root space that they need (this information is included in the growing guide that comes with your plants) as this will really help them to defend themselves against pests and disease as well as giving them access to water, nutrients and sunlight. If growing in pots, you can usually plant a little closer together as long as you water regularly and remember to add a liquid feed from time to time.
Remember, that if you need to leave 40cm between rows of brassicas, you can still put a row of, say, lettuce in between them.
Sketch it out
If you're still confused, this is probably the easiest way to plan…simply sketch out your beds, divide them into sections and mark where you plan to plant each vegetable type.