vegetable patch design
siting a vegetable patch
There are three main things to consider when choosing a site for a vegetable patch

1. sunlight

Siting beds on a North/South* axis will allow sunlight to reach behind taller vegetables as the sun travels across the sky.
Unless you live close to the equator it is important to maximise the amount of sun that your vegetables get. The best way to do this is to lay out your vegetable beds along a North/South* axis. Even in high Summer the sun's rays still strike the ground at an angle.   By laying your beds North/South you allow full sunlight to strike the entire length of the beds as the sun travels across the sky. Even when you are growing tall crops such as corn and runner beans at the front of the beds.

Unfortunately pre existing obstructions in your garden such as fences, pathways and trees may make it impossible to lay all of your vegetable beds out on a North/South axis.  If you do have to build some beds along an East/West axis then try to use those beds for crops that don't grow very tall.  Plants such as strawberries, potatoes and asparagus (which is tall but quite spindly) are ideal for such beds.

2. shade
Laying beds on a North/South axis is useless if the beds are shaded by trees, fences or buildings on the North side*. If possible try and leave the same height of any tree, fence or building in distance from your vegetable patch. By doing this your vegetables will get full sunlight all year round.

Unfortunately, with limited backyard space, it is not always possible to have a vegetable bed in full sunlight throughout the year. If part of your bed is shaded during the Winter months when the sun is low in the sky it is best only used for Summer crops. 


Potato patch in late Spring.
I use my main vegetable bed that’s shaded in Winter to grow potatoes with great success. But remember that after you have harvested your Summer crop it is important to cover the bed with mulch over Winter, otherwise you will have a tough job clearing it of weeds in Spring time.

* Note that these notes are based on a vegetable patch in Australia, which is in the Southern hemisphere. If you are in the Northern hemisphere then naturally the sun is in the South, not the North.


3. distance from the kitchen
The vegetable patch should not be too far away from the kitchen as it is important to be able to get to it easily for planting, weeding and harvesting. Generally the further away a vegetable patch is from the kitchen back door the more likely that it will be neglected and the vegetables left to go to seed. See Garden Zones in the Garden Design section for more information.  Your vegetable patch should also be relatively close to your compost bins.  See Where To Place Compost Bins in the Composting section for more information about placing your compost bin.