Just as in the business of real estate, the business of gardening relies on three things –- location, location, and location. Placing your vegetable garden in the right location of your yard can make the difference between having or not having a hardy bounty of delicious vegetables for dinner.
The idea is that you want your vegetable garden to have the proper sun exposure. Some vegetables thrive in a somewhat shady environment, some flourish in a combination of sun and shade, and some like it when it’s hot.
Knowing the United States Department of Agriculture Hardiness Zone map that shows plant tolerance extremes of hot and cold for your region is essential for selecting the right vegetables to plant in your area. Another tool that can be helpful is a compass that can help you in determining what direction are north, south, east, and west. Knowing where the four corners of the compass are in relationship to your lawn is the foolproof way to select the best location for the sun exposure that is best for your vegetable garden.
North facing gardens will get the most shade. Although it is true that most vegetables don’t do well in the shade, it is true that some vegetables thrive when they get at least three or four hours of sun. That is achieved when you face them toward the north. Lettuce, Arugula, Kale, mint, oregano, and chives do quite well in this environment. Moreover, if you live in a hot region of the country, partial shade is ideal for growing lettuce and leafy greens in the hot summer.
If your vegetable garden faces east, it can take advantage of sun exposure that is splendid in the morning and is shady in the afternoon. This is said to be ideal for carrots, beets, and leafy greens. Some type of peppers and tomatoes do quite well in at least six hours of sunlight.
If you are after the most sun for your vegetable garden, then it should be facing south. However, in areas of the country that get quite hot in the summer, you need to take precautions that the vegetable plants don’t dry out, especially plants that are growing in containers.
Some gardeners have been known to grow some kinds of peppers and herbs in 20-gallon pots that face south. You need to be certain to water the crop every day.
Gardens that face the west will bathe in evening and afternoon sun. Just six hours or more of sun proves ideal for tomatoes, peppers, and squash. Keep in mind, however, that as in the case of south facing gardens, it can get too hot for some types of vegetables if they face west. If you include spinach in the garden, make sure to provide shade to cool and protect it.
Of course, you need to consider other variables when selecting a location for your garden. These include the effect of trees, your house and other buildings in the area on sun exposure. Also, keep in mind that the sun’s position will be slightly different at different times of the year. Obviously, you can’t select a location for your garden based on sun exposure in the winter and apply that to the summer.