Here is the next installment in our “starting your own sustainable garden” series.
Once you have chosen what type of garden you want, there are many other factors you need to decide before you actually get to work with your gardening tools. Mainly you need to pick out its location. This is usually decided by several factors, including how you will water it, how much space you have, how much shade vs. sun it needs, etc. Some of these questions can be very important in deciding whether your garden lives or dies, so don’t take them lightly. You need to take each one into special consideration.
Sun vs. Shade
Choosing the garden’s location within your yard is one of the most important things to decide. You want to choose a position that will provide an ideal climate for the plants you wish to grow. I don’t know what type of garden you’re dealing with so I can’t give you specific advice, but if you do a Google search for the plant you’re dealing with then you’ll find a plethora of sites informing you about the perfect conditions for its growing. After this, it’s just a issue of finding the most shaded or most sunny spot in your garden spot.
The greatest determining factor is the sun. For example, most gardens would not work well in a north-facing area; while north corners do work for ferns, certain wild flowers, and begonias, they are of little use as spots for most other types of garden plants.
If possible, the ideal spot (for plants preferring a good deal of sun) has a southern exposure. Here the sun will provide warmth all day long. When the garden is thus located, the rows of vegetables and flowers should run north and south. Thus placed, the plants receive the sun’s rays all the morning on the eastern side, and all the afternoon on the western side. One will most likely not have any lopsided plants with such an arrangement.
But suppose the garden faces southeast? In this case, in order to get the best distribution of sunlight, you should run the rows northwest and southeast.
The idea is to get the most sunlight as evenly distributed as possible for the longest period of time. From the lopsided growth of window plants it is easy enough to see the effect on plants of badly distributed light. So if you use a little diagram remembering that you wish the sun to shine part of the day on one side of the plants and part on the other, you can plan out your garden layout ahead of time.
The southern exposure is best because the sun gives fairly even treatment to each side. A northern exposure could in some cases mean an almost entire cut-off from sunlight; while northeastern and southwestern places pretty much always get uneven distribution of sun’s rays, no matter how carefully this is planned.
If your plants prefer a shadier location, getting the perfect amount of shade for your garden can be a difficult endeavor. Once you have a basic idea for where you want your garden, you might want to watch it and record how many hours it spends in sun and how many it spends in shade. Compare your findings with an online search, and you should be able to determine whether the spot you chose is ideal or not for planting your desired garden. Of course the amount of sun vs. shade will change as the seasons change, but if you try to watch this as close to your planting season as possible, you should get a good estimate. If necessary, later on you can put up some kind of shade to protect your garden from getting too much sun.
Another deciding factor is how you plan to water your garden. If you have a sprinkler system already installed for your grass, then it might be a good idea to put your garden in the middle of your yard. Then it will get watered at the same time, and require no extra work from your part. But if this isn’t really the best location for your garden, then you might end up watering it by hose or dragging a sprinkler out there. In this case, just make sure your garden is within the ideal distance for a hose to reach. While this might not seem like the best factor to base the entire location of your garden on, you’ll be surprised at how nice it is to plan this out in advance, rather than finding out later the hard way, that your garden is quite difficult to get water to.
After you’ve determined the ideal place (and space) for your garden and whether it has the right amount of sunlight, and whether you will be able to handily water it, you’re one step closer to actually starting your garden. Of course there are other factors that I have overlooked here, but we will cover some of these in upcoming issues.
If possible, you should plan your garden out on paper ahead of time. The plan is a great help when the real planting time comes. It saves time and unnecessary buying of seed.
Have fun planning, and keep your eye out for our next newsletter, where we will discuss the different landscaping options for your new garden spot!
For more resources to help make your own sustainable garden, you can also visit our website at http://www.newholisticliving.com/sustainablegardening.html.
Stop back again soon, as next time we will be discussing different options for landscaping your new garden!