Plan before you plant to ensure that your fruits and vegetables have a chance to thrive
If you’re adding new raised beds or using planter boxes that can be moved, make sure that your vegetable garden is in the right place.
Pay attention to sunlight. What direction does your garden face? In the Northern Hemisphere, south-facing yards and balconies get the most light, while north-facing gardens will almost always be shaded by comparison. West-facing gardens will get intense afternoon light, which can in some cases be hard on tender greens like lettuce. Gardens with mostly eastern exposure will get soft morning light, which may not necessarily be bright enough to grow sun lovers like tomatoes. Take a look, too, for buildings, trees and other structures that could block light by creating shadows.
If you live in a sunny climate, getting enough light may not be a big deal. In fact, some afternoon shade can be a big advantage in places with hot summers. If you’re in a rainier environment, such as the Pacific Northwest, getting adequate light can be a challenge. You may want to locate your vegetable garden in the sunniest spot, even if that’s your front yard.
Choose the right crops for the right place. If you can’t move your garden, work with what you have and choose your crops accordingly. Most salad greens, like spinach and lettuce, will grow happily in partial shade but can really suffer under hot sun. Good soil can help compensate for a less than perfectly located garden.
Use slopes to your advantage. Slope can also affect how you site your garden. Is your space mostly flat or does it have a variety of heights? In dry climates, take advantage of slope by planting in a low-lying area, which can better retain water. In a wet or shaded environment, planting on a south-facing slope, or in a raised area, can help increase drainage and sun exposure. Keep in mind that raised beds should always be level.