I am planning out a vegetable garden that will have 3 large raised boxes. I have made a list of what I want to grow. How do I figure out a good location for each type of vegetable?

My list includes:

I am a newbie and need a place to start! Thanks.

  • 1
    What space is available? And does this space have full sun? Commented Mar 13, 2016 at 9:00
  • I have a space along the south side of my house, about 12 feet by 40 feet. It gets full sun.
    – blueskysd
    Commented Mar 15, 2016 at 19:08

1 Answer 1


How you plan your garden depends on the land available, the soil, topography, what you are trying to grow, and sunlight. You also need to know where the sun falls in winter as the sun is much lower in the sky and your garden site might be shaded but have full sunlight in summer. You don't want your raised beds vegetable garden in an area that is going to get flooded in heavy rain with a site with good drainage preferred.

If you are planning a large garden you might want to get a soil analysis done first. This costs about $25 in the USA, and will tell you how you need you amend your soil before you start.

There are a number of different gardening philosophies as well that will determine your layout. The no watering method says your plants need to be widely spaced so that they have adequate nutrition from the soil, with good aeration to prevent diseases. The square foot and biointensive methods specify close planting. The former specifies an artificial soil mix to allow greater plant densities, whereas the latter explains that double digging allows greater plant densities because of deeper root systems, and that close planting creates a humidity bubble over the whole garden reducing evaporative losses from the soil. The no watering method relies on a hardened soil layer to keep moisture losses down.

You ideally need 11 hours of sunlight for your vegetable garden but some leafy crops can do with much less, and most cope with 7 hours. Some plants that can do well in shade can be grown behind, or amongst, taller plants that will shade them. Usually taller plants are planted at the back of the beds (where the front faces the equator) so that they don't shade plants that also need full sun. You then only have trellises on one side of your bed. But some methods of companion planting, such as the Indian three sisters, specify a spiral or matrix planting intercropping method, i.e. squash (for weed suppression), corn for climbing, and climbing beans to tie the corn together to provide some protection against wind, and to provide nitrogen for the following year).

Other known growing combinations include corn also providing good shade for potatoes, peas, cucumbers, and tomatoes giving good shade for onions.

The biointensive method says you should lay out your garden in a square with narrow (1 foot) paths in order to create that humidity bubble. You might want a wider path for a wheelbarrow. Your beds should be reachable without ever standing on the raised bed. This means about 5 foot wide for most people. You can use wood to form the bed but this allows insects a place to hide. And wood will eventually rot. Just mounding the soil eventually works as the plants and fungi will keep the edges in place.

Since you're not going to be using your paths between raised beds for growing, you can remove the top soil from them, and add it to your raised beds. The paths can then be paved using pavers, weedmat, and sand. Or you can just put down tree mulch. When that eventually decomposes into compost, you can spread it into your beds, and put a new layer down.

Tree mulch is also used as a mulch between your plants in the Back to Eden gardening method. The underside of the mulch slowly decomposes releasing nutrients to the plants while retaining moisture and suppressing weeds. But it steals nitrogen from the soil in order to decompose so you need to add a nitrogen source such as chicken manure.

Many methods specify the need for crop rotation so that each year you grow a different family of plants so that diseases that affect one family do not get a chance to persist into the following year's crop.

You should also think about growing a compost crop eg corn, wheat, cereal rye every year. Some compost crops are able to reach deep into the soil to extract minerals below a level that most vegetables can reach. Others are cut leaving extensive root systems to compost into the soil. You don't necessarily eat these crops but use them for providing structural carbon and minerals for your compost heap. So, it's a way to move minerals from below into the soil above, or increase the organic matter in soil. It's not a good idea to import compost from other sites to put into your garden long term though you might have to do this initially. And there is also the issue of safety. Sometimes bought compost has been alleged to contain weedkiller which then kills your vegetables.

Regarding your particular selection of vegetables, some of those are summer vegetables, and some are winter. If you look at the seed packets that should tell you which are grown when.

  • This is great advice, I would add one thing however. No matter what your planning, make sure you have plenty of space to get your vehicular tools through. By that I mean things with wheels. I.e. Wheelbarrows, law mowers, carts, atvs, or anything else you plan on using in your growing space. I also recommend you DO plan on making enough space for a lawn mower. No telling how quickly it will be before you get tired on maintaining walkways between beds and the lawnmower becomes a serious thought.
    – Escoce
    Commented Mar 14, 2016 at 13:37
  • @escoce I added a paragraph on paths obviating the need to mow! Commented Mar 14, 2016 at 18:50
  • I still say you need room between your beds. Additionally tree mulch does not steal nitrogen from the soil. That's been debunked quite a bit by the organic communities. If you incorporate tree mulch into the soil, yes it can suck nitrogen, but laid on top, there really isn't a vehicle for the nitrogen to get taken from more than a fraction of an inch. Just like weeds, ultimately the nutrients that might be taken make its way back into the soil. It has no where else to go unless you interfere with the cycle.
    – Escoce
    Commented Mar 14, 2016 at 19:38
  • I find the wood chips etc all get mixed up anyway with the soil. Paul Gautschi who promotes this method of gardening says he uses chicken manure in addition to the wood chips/leaves. Commented Mar 14, 2016 at 22:53
  • Wow, @GrahamChiu! Thank you for your in depth explanation. I really appreciate it, especially the overview of the different planting philosophies, which will help me as a starting point for further research.
    – blueskysd
    Commented Mar 15, 2016 at 19:04

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