Vegetable Garden Plans
Taking time to plan a vegetable garden before you plant can pay dividends throughout the season. Clever use of low rows and tall accent plants creates microclimates that different vegetables enjoy, as well as great visual effects.
Many gardeners admire the long, uniform rows of traditional large vegetable gardens, but they can also be useful in the smaller garden. If rows are planted running along the length of the garden away from the house, they draw the eye onward and make the garden appear longer. In this garden, curved rows of lettuce, chard, onions and zucchini are interspersed with dense lines of marigolds (Tagetes), which effectively combine to lengthen the appearance of the border. Marigolds are often grown alongside vegetables because their strong scent is thought to confuse insect pests seeking particular crop plants.
When trained up a straight row of canes or trellis, climbing vegetables, such as these runner beans, make effective, fast-growing screens, which can have many uses in the garden. Such a screen could be used to separate a vegetable garden from the rest of the garden, or to disguise compost piles or garbage cans. All kinds of trailing plants, including cucumbers and squashes, can be trained to cover unsightly walls or fences. Climbing beans are easily damaged by high winds, so if a windbreak is required, perennial Jerusalem artichokes would be a better choice.
Where space for growing vegetables is limited, it makes sense to grow crops in tightly packed rows, where as little soil as possible is left bare. Here, the contrasting leaf forms of different lettuce varieties look attractive next to a row of ferny carrot foliage and backed by tall sweet corn. This compact planting has disadvantages-you need to leave sufficient space to access the crops, and taller plants can shade out shorter ones-but the advantages include fewer weeds, due to less bare soil, and shade from the sweet corn, which benefits the lettuces in summer.