Choose a Sunny Location
Most vegetables need six to eight hours of direct sun a day for best results. Locate the garden so that access is easy and convenient. The ideal garden location has loose soil that drains well.
Make the Garden the Right Size
A 12 x 16 ft plot is sufficient for a garden sampler with a variety of greens, some herbs, beans, beetroot and potatoes and even edible flowers. Include flowers in the garden because they are beautiful and joy to cut and bring indoors and they also attract pollinating insects to the garden.
Create the Garden from Your Plan
You’ll need a tape measure, plenty of string, 12 to 18 inch stakes and a hammer to drive the stakes into the ground. Rototill to turn the garden by hand and remove excess weeds.
Raise the Beds
In a raised bed garden, the soil is formed in 3 to 4 ft wide beds which can be any length or shape. The soil is raised above the surrounding soil (6 inches to waist high), sometimes enclosed by a frame generally made of wood, rock or concrete blocks and enriched with compost. Vegetable plants are packed in geometric patterns and much closer together than conventional row gardening. The spacing allows moisture to be conserved and weed growth suppressed. Raise bed gardens also prevent soil compaction, provide good drainage an serve as a barrier to a variety of pests such as slugs and snails. They are also easier to maintain for the older gardener or those with back problems at the need to bend is reduced.
Feed the Soil
Use natural fertilizers and compost. Nutrients from most organic products are released into the soil slowly. See our Composting Tips for best results.
Decide What To Grow and When
Many vegetables are best started from seeds sown directly in the ground. Other go in as seedlings.
Easiest to Grow
Some of the most reliable crops to grow in much of the country are salad leaves, spring onions, radishes, tomatoes, beetroot, potatoes, peas, broad beans, runner beans, onions and garlic and many herbs such as mint, parsley and chives to name but a few.
Time is Right
The average date of last frosts in spring is the key to use in garden planning. In the south of the country the last frosts can be as early as the end of March, whereas in the more northern parts, it may not be until the end of May. You can check this using a guide such as the UK interactive last frost map to find out the dates for your area.
Spring Vegetable Garden
Take advantage of the cool, wet weather of spring to put in multiple crops of peas and lettuce. Its also great to get your perennial vegetables, like asparagus and rhubarb started.
Autumn Vegetable Garden
In general, vegetables that grow best in cool weather are leafy greens, root crops and various members of the cabbage family. Beetroot, carrots peas, chard, endive, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, turnips, radishes, spinach, oriental vegetables like Chinese cabbage and bok choy and transplants of late cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts may be planted in early August for autumn harvesting.
|Plant||Spacing (p=plants / r=Rows)||Seed planting depths||Time to maturity|
|Asparagus||p = 14″/r = 24-36″||4-5″||Second year|
|Beetroot||P = 4″/r = 18″||1/2″||55 – 70 days|
|Broccoli||p = 24″/r = 30-36″||1/2-1″||90 – 110 days|
|Cabbage||p = 24″/r = 24-36″||1/2″||65 – 120 days|
|Carrots||p = 2-4″/r = 18-24″||1/2″||120 – 150 days|
|Cauliflower||p = 15″/r = 24-36″||1/2″||90 – 110 days|
|Sweetcorn||p = 3″/r = 24″||1″||65 – 95 days|
|Cucumbers||p = 36-48″/r = 36-48″ (3 or 4 plants per mound)||1″||60 – 75 days|
|Aubergines||p = 24″/r = 36″||1/2″||60 – 80 days|
|Lettuce||p = 8-12″/r = 18-24″||1/4″||40 – 90 days|
|Peppers||p = 24″/r = 24″||1/2″||65 – 80 days|
|Potatoes||p = 8″/r = 36″||3-6″||90 – 120 days|
|Pumpkins||p = 6-8″/r = 36″||3-4″||100 – 120 days|
|Radishes||p = 1-3″/r = 18-24″||1/2″||21 – 30 days|
|Spinach||p = 6″/r = 12-18″||1/2″||40 – 50 days|
|Summer Squash||p = 36″/r = 36″ (3 or 4 plants per mound||1/2 – 1″||50 – 60 days|
|Tomatoes||p = 30-36″/r = 30-36″||1/2″||60 – 80 days|
|Watermelons||p = 72″/r = 72″ (1 – 2 plants per mound||1″||85 – 95 days|
*Maturity time frame may vary by climate and vegetable type, see seed or seeding packaging for specific time of maturity