5 Things to Know When Choosing a Spot for Your Vegetable Garden

Choosing the right place for your vegetable garden is an important first step in making gardening fun and productive.  Here are 5 simple things you can do when selecting a site.

1)  Vegetable gardens should be planted in full sun, but what exactly is “full sun”?  To be productive, vegetable gardens should receive 7 or more hours of direct uninterrupted sunlight each day. Areas that receive 5-6 hours should be limited to leafy greens, like spinach or lettuce.  For sites that receive less than 5 hours, plant hosta instead!

2) Stay away from large trees.  Certainly the trees can shade the garden but they also compete with your vegetable plants for water and nutrients.  Be aware, too, that trees grow and that a small tree that wasn’t a problem 5 years ago could now be putting limitations on vegetable production.   Walnut and hickory trees secrete a herbicide, called juglone, into the soil, so know what tree species are in the area too.

3) Vegetable gardens should be at least 10 feet away from structures like sheds and houses. Buildings built before 1979 may have been painted with lead-based paint.  As this paint flakes and falls to the ground, lead contamination of the soil results. Vegetable plants can inadvertently pick up the lead.  While this won’t harm the plants, people who eat these vegetables can suffer from lead poisoning.

4) Locate the garden close to a hydrant or water spigot.  Lugging around lots of garden hoses is a chore, so simplify things by having a water source close by.

5) Remember that out of sight is out of mind.  Place your garden close enough so you can check it on a daily basis.  Otherwise you might miss important events like watering, weeding or critter control.

Information on understanding the seed packet can be found on this NebGuide link: http://www.ianrpubs.unl.edu/sendIt/g1953.pdf .

Whether you’re new to vegetable gardening or you’ve been gardening for a long time, these 5 site selection tips will save on frustration and contribute to your success in growing your own vegetables.

Des Moines IA BHG gardens 8-8-2008 001 (21)

Kathleen Cue
Horticulture Educator at Nebraska Extension
Kathleen serves as the Horticulture Educator for Nebraska Extension in Dodge County. She educates people on making smart plant choices to reduce use of fertilizers and pesticides in their landscape which has a positive impact on air, water, soil and environmental quality, property values and people’s pocketbooks.

Leave a Reply