It is easy to view bed placement in a way that seems to be the most pleasing to you, and in some ways that can be a problem. Some of my beds are placed in out of the way locations, as mentioned earlier my greenhouse is in the wrong place because it doesn’t receive sun first thing in the morning but it is there for a reason, it sits on ground that nothing would normally be grown on.
My garden also sits behind a fence, it is good because it keeps the dogs and wildlife out but access is harder.
These are some of the things you have to consider:
- Soil quality
- Animal traffic/use
- Water access
These are just a few things to consider with a bed.
- Sunlight-Normally a greenhouse or bed should run east/west so that as the sun crosses the horizon it’s light will travel the length of the bed, it is probably more important with greenhouses to be situated that way and it probably makes the most difference in the winter when the sun is low on the horizon. Trees and buildings also have to be considered when planning how the sun will affect the garden.
- Drainage-Unless you are planting water plants you need good drainage, very few plants like to sit in water. Drainage is trickier than you may think, I live on a ridge land sloping away in three directions and still have plants drown. I planted a tree once in what appeared to be a good location, very soon it died, when pulled up it was sitting in water. There was no way for me to know that the bed rock created the situation for water to accumulate but it is a good idea to look at your land after a good hard rain and see what is happening, it may turn out that you can use the water shed to trap water in key locations so you do not need to water as much.
- Access-Many different aspects of gardening have a considerable amount of weight. If you are moving mulch, soil amendments, compost or even your harvest more than likely you will want to use wheel barrows or carts of some sort, if you don’t have good access it will be a big problem. Additionally if you are in an urban environment or are on rented/borrowed ground, can you come into it anytime you want or is it only on certain days?
- Convenience-The closer you are to truck/car access the better off you are, I have to wheel barrow soil or amendments for 50 yards to get to my beds, I will do everything I can to change that in the future. Secondly is it close to your home? If you have to drive a ways to get to your garden you won’t go as much as you should. If it is temporary that it may be worth it. I knew someone that had to drive 3 hours one way to look at their crops, but they knew they would live there soon so it was worth it.
- Soil quality-If the soil is not good it may not be worth planting. There are some simple soil tests you can do at home and there are soil tests that the Agricultural Exchange Office will do for you for a small fee. It is a good idea for you to get your soil tested even if you think it is good so you know what your are dealing with.
- Traffic-More specifically for urban farms, are people going to be picking your crops before you do? Or even if you are rural, are people including yourself going to be walking through the beds all the time when you are not gardening? If so you will cause some damage to the crops and/or beds.
- Animal traffic/use-I have field behind my house that I would love to pant crops in, a deer trail runs right through the middle of it, there are crops I can plant there but I have to be very careful what I pant or they will wipe me out. My four dogs can also cause a lot of damage. The location I wish to put my next plot has a dog trail running through it, that won’t work, I will have to figure something out for that.
- Water access-Hauling water in by truck is horrible, some crops don’t need much water and others do, make sure you can get a hose to the pants that need water or have a pond or some type of water catchment near by.
- Wind-Not much of a big deal where I am but in some places wind can be brutal, it can freeze pants in the winter and dry them out in the summer, sometimes it just beats them to death. In any case it is nice to have a slight breeze so the pants don’t sit in stagnant air, some breeze should cut down on mold, too much can kill your plants too.
Hope these ideas helped bring some thought to where you want to put your beds!