What’s Your Veggie Garden Style?
Want to start a veggie garden? Before you can become a veggie grower, you need a growing space.
How you set it up depends on your yard or allotment, what you want to grow, growing conditions, and how you want it to look. It’s got to be easy to work with if you’re going to succeed.
I’ve gathered a bunch of ideas to help you make the best choices for your garden.
There are three main choices, each with their own advantages:
1. In-ground beds are the traditional way to grow and work fine if you have fairly flat terrain and good soil. You may have to remove grass lawn or debris to get started.
2. Raised beds are my favourite. You can use them to grow on slopes, it’s easy to build up with good soil over bad, they help prevent critters from dining on the crops, they can extend the growing season (in spring and fall), and the added height can make it easier to work. I guess you can tell I’m biased! Make sure you select untreated wood, safe for food growing gardens.
I put a little pond in one of my raised beds along with the plants.
Check your library or websites for books on how-to build raised beds.
3. Containers act just like raised beds on a smaller scale: you can control the soil, plus they are portable, but the size makes them vulnerable to extreme temperatures (hot and cold) and they require more attention for watering.
Many gardens including mine use a combination of all of these things. You can see how I use my raised beds for winter growing here.
Here’s some ideas to use in your garden:
1. Raised beds with mulch walkways
If you have room, it is ideal to have enough space between beds to kneel with your legs on the ground. The measurement from the top of your knee to the bottom of your foot is a great unit measure to use for raised bed planning.
Also, never make a raised bed wider than you can comfortably reach every part of it. You don’t ever want to stand inside and compact the soil (not good for the plant roots).
2. In-ground bed with masonry border
If the bricks are well-placed at grass height, it is really easy to cut the lawn without having to do additional trim work.
3. Raised beds on narrow front lawn
This was the garden at my previous home. The entire front lawn was just 8 feet wide and sloped, so I installed a series of raised beds for veggies and flowers. We had a lot of wild rabbits but they never tried to jump into the beds, despite the delicious food right there! Apparently they don’t like to jump when they can’t see where they’re going.
Is there anything better than having a lush kitchen garden for selecting dinner foods each evening?
4. Container veggie garden
This one was also at my former home. I planted various herbs and veggies in the containers and had them near the front door for easy access. Plus it was a good use of space on the concrete walkway. The brick wall provided warmth and the pots received just a few hours direct sun each day so they never dried out.
5. Victorian-inspired kitchen garden
The white raised beds and climbers matched the style of this old Victorian country home. Beans, peas and other climbers are planted around the trellis.
6. Cold frame box
This box is used to shelter plants from the cold at night. During the day the lid is raised for sunshine and air circulation. You can create one of these boxes from an existing raised bed, extending the sides and adding a lid with hinges.
7. Country veggie garden with straw pathways
I love this idea with straw walkways but it only works well if you have sandy and/or well-drained soil, otherwise it can get mucky. When the weather gets colder and some crops just need a little protection to carry on, you can place the straw over them or add poly tunnels.
8. Raised beds and in-ground beds
Here it looks like they are testing the same crops in two different settings to see if one out-performs the other. Again, heavy mulch on the walkways will keep the weeds down.
9. Square raised herb beds
The key to a good raised bed is making sure you can easily reach all of the plants without having to stand inside it (standing on soil compacts it which is not beneficial for root health). It’s also smart to work with existing lumber sizes. Here they have used 8′ pieces and cut them in half to create 4′ square raised beds.
10. Stone-bordered bed with pea gravel
This asparagus bed is bordered with angel stone and the pathways are filled with pea gravel. It can be tricky to keep the weeds away in the long term with this setup but some say it’s not impossible.
11. In-ground bed bordered with logs
12. Tomatoes in pots
These are some of my tomatoes. I keep the pots near the brick house for warmth until the weather warms up, then I distribute the pots throughout the garden so the pests can’t find them easily. I’ve been growing my tomatoes this way for years.
Here’s some basic tomato growing how-tos.
13. Classic victory garden
How beautiful is that? I have a neighbour who grows his garden this way every year (neat rows) and has done so for the past 60 years. Newer methods discourage turning the soil deeply but instead encourage adding rich compost to the surface after each crop is finished.
14. Twig climbing garden
15. Potato bins
These are also from my old garden. With no room to dig (and real tough clay soil), I opted to grow my potatoes in these wooden half whiskey barrels. When gardening on a tight budget, it’s a smart idea to grow food in containers instead of annual flowers. They fill in the space with the bonus of food growing. I have more tips on how save a lot of money gardening here. I stayed on a $100 a year budget for many years.
16. Raised beds in formation
I didn’t have a way to get a photo of this that illustrates the layout, but it’s one central raised bed with additional beds forming a symmetrical, circular pattern all around it. I wish I could have taken a photo from directly above the entire garden. The beds were quite new but with a variety of herbs, vegetables, flowers, and vines, they were sure to be quite outstanding by peak season.
17. Tall deep raised beds
Here’s a look at an adjacent bed:
18. Climber support with old metal shelf
Repurposed items are used in this garden. As the vines grow up the trellis, quite an interesting effect will occur. Plus, the vines will offer shade, perfect for any leafy greens planted below.
19. Garden bed with old metal arbour frame
The covers from these arbours wear out first, but the frames can live on a lot longer. Here they’ve placed it right in the bed and vines are growing up the posts.
20. Whole log raised beds
21. Stacked Railway-style Ties
Whatever wood you choose for raised beds, always make sure it’s safe for food-growing beds. Select wood that has not been treated (you do NOT want ‘pressure-treated’ wood), so that there’s nothing that will leach into your soil over time. This is not the time to choose free treated wood over buying new untreated wood, if it comes to that.
Every good veggie garden needs a composter! You can save food scraps for compost in any size garden (even a balcony). Larger bins like these ones are ideal for larger gardens with a lot of yard waste.
Hens For Fertilizer
They make sweet pets, provide eggs, and produce fertilizer: a great addition to many gardens!