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Available Space

How to decide how much space you have for growing fruit, vegetables and herbs

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Jump to:   Allotments & Larger plots  |  Smaller Gardens  |  Containers

Whether you have a huge allotment or a windowsill, before you can decide what to grow, you have to give yourself some idea as to how much space is available.  You can't grow sweetcorn or a peach tree in a small growbag, so it's important to know how much space you have as this will greatly affect your choice of crops.

Allotments and large areas

If you have an allotment this question is much easier to answer, although you should take measurements to ensure you don't over or under plant. We recommend you visit the Planning an Allotment section to ensure you get the best results possible.

Smaller Gardens

Plan 1If you have a garden  there are a number of other factors which have to be taken into consideration. 

The first thing to think about when planning to grow vegetables or fruit in a garden is where non-moveable structures such as sheds and paths are situated.

Draw out a rough sketch - it doesn't have to be too precise - putting the non-moveable objects in first and this will act as a good basis as to where you are going to grow your crops. Don't forget to include paths.

Also make a note on the plan where North, East, South and West is, or at least where the sun rises and sets, so you can have an idea of which parts of the garden are in sun and shade at various times during the day, as some plants prefer to be in partial shade for part of the day.

 

 

It is also likely that there will already be beds or borders in the garden, so make a note of these too as although they can be easily changed, they may suitable for turning over to growing crops just as they are and if you can utilise existing beds or borders it will certainly save you digging and preparation time. Once you have drawn the basic outline you can decide where to grow your crops but before you do some questions you should ask include:-

 

  • Do you want to just grow edible crops or do you want to grow ornamental flowers and plants?

  • Do you need to have grassed or paved areas for the children or pets to play on?

  • Are there any very shady areas which would not be suitable for growing most crops

  • Are you prepared to do heavy work removing permanent features in order to maximise your growing space?

Garden Plan 2So, for example, if you've decided you don't need much grass or paving but you would like to have a rose bed and you're not prepared to move any of the permanent features, the above garden could end up like the example on the right. 

Do take your time with this initial plan, even if you have to do it several times. Don't forget to take into consideration which parts of the garden may be in shade or full sun most of the day. In this respect, it's worth just looking at your garden at various points during the day to double check on very shady areas, in particular areas which may be affected by shadows cast by high fences,  trees or buildings. 

Before you finalise your plan, so some rough measurements of the actual space/s where you have decided to grow your crops to give you an idea of how much you will be able to grow so you can fine tune your plan.  For instance, you may find that the "fruit" bed in this plan would be better if it were bigger, as you want to grow large fruit plants such as rhubarb. In this particular example,   as the patio area could accommodate pots and containers in which the herbs can be grown,  the space allocated for the herb bed can easily be merged into the fruit bed.

Lastly, think carefully about how you are going to access the plants. One of the worse things for a crop bed is being constantly trampled upon when watering, weeding or harvesting. On an allotment or large area, growing rows of produce which are spaced wide enough apart so you can walk down the row is an option, however in smaller spaces, growing crops in beds which are no deeper than 6 feet will enable you to sow, plant, weed, water and harvest without ever having to tread on the soil, provided you have a "path" along the two widest edges from which you can work.

Containers, pots and growbags

Even if you only have a balcony or paved area available, it is still possible to grow many vegetables, fruit and herbs as well as edible (or even non-edible) flowers, to create an attractive display. Furthermore, in a way, it's much easier, as you can move the containers around during the season to make the most of sunny or shady areas.

Once you are relatively happy with your plan, you are now ready to choose which crops you want to grow            > > > >   Next steps

 

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