By Cornell Cooperative Extension

It’s time to plan your vegetable garden, and whether you are planting seeds or transplants, it’s a good practice to look ahead at what your family will actually consume. Try to avoid planting vegetables that are not commonly eaten in your home to avoid them going to waste. Make sure that the size of your garden is within the realm of your care; smaller gardens may be beneficial to new gardeners or small households because of the ease of maintenance and costs.  After a season of gardening, if you need more yields, then consider expanding your garden.

Before planting, take the time to map out the garden to make best use of space and to visualize how your garden is going to look. Make sure not to place tall plants where they might block the sunlight of smaller vegetables, and try to place any perennial plants together, along one side of the garden. If you are starting a new garden this year, or looking to move your existing garden, it is good practice to really evaluate potential sites for necessary elements that makes a garden productive.  The site needs to be relatively sunny, receiving at least six hours of direct sun daily.  It is best to have a moderately level site that is well drained and free of any standing water.  The garden should be located far enough away from trees to allow for sunlight and to reduce competition for water and nutrients.  Good air circulation will help prevent disease and produce stronger plants, however, too strong of winds can damage your plants.

Sometimes these elements are not all readily available in your useable space; this is where a raised bed could be established in a traditional garden’s place.  Raised beds require more work to establish at a greater expense, but also allow a grower to control all the elements of their garden .