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Help me plan my veggie patch please

Our garden was previously overgrown for 20yrs.  Any trees were removed before we bought it 18mths ago.   Its west facing, but due to no trees/no nearby houses, the area for a veg patch gets the most sunlight.  Its 7x5m (23ft x 16ft), but could be extended out a bit farther, to go around the water tank in the pic if needed.  There is another section about 1/3 this size I could also use if needed.

I've read mixed things about which aspect the beds should lay?  Parallel to the fence or perpendicular? (Sun in behind me from where I took the pic).

This is what I've currently grown in pots (yes, pots!) and would like to include in the patch next year. I've only been growing veg for 2yrs so am a complete novice and never grown in an actual vegetable patch:
- runner beans
- dwarf or full sizes beans
- kuri squash
- potatoes
- onions
- cucumber
- tomatoes
- horseradish (needs a contained bed)
- Jerusalem artichokes (needs a contained bed)
- radishes 
- courgette
- chillies
- aubergine

- raspberries
- strawberries
- rhubarb

In the ground, I might try other veg too (carrots/parsnip/brassicas), but the above list seems too large already for the space I have- despite having success in pots.  I'm guessing taller things go nearer the fence and lower things towards the front?  I've also thought about espalier fruit trees along the fence line behind the veg patch.  Would that work?

Ground soil is clay, but small, sandy pockets in parts.  The pic shows the area with just top soil- the original soil being dug up to remove previous concrete and bags of buried rubbish!

Any advice re bed shapes, design, orientation, where to put what, lessons learnt would be very much appreciated.  :)


Coastal Suffolk/Essex Border- Clay soil


  • As always you will be told to add as much organic material as possible. We are on heavy clay but been here since 1978 and still adding it!
    We add our own compost and still feel as though we are growing in clay.
    Can't give you advice on size/shape etc as you are there and will see the sun/winds etc in your own garden.
    Just give it a go as to what you feel is right.
    We grow most of what you have said but aubergines, chillies, cucumbers etc are grown in our polytunnel.
    Go for it, nothing like having your own home grown.

  • nick615nick615 Posts: 1,458
    Assuming you took your pic around the middle of the day, rows should be perpendicular so that the sun shines up the rows and everything gets its share.  As to the range of crops you're having success with, to me its over ambitious, i.e. you've only got room for literally a few of each?  For sheer efficient use of space, I'd major on one or two of the same crops every year, e.g. runner beans and onions moving round the plot, plus a stationary rhubarb.  Careful preparation of a runner bean pit each year will greatly assist with soil improvement, and onions are rewarding for their lasting character.  Two pics attached for beans and an onion mat. 
  • You could allocate one area as a fruit area which remains static permanently. Even put in a netting cage to protect the fruit. Then divide your ground up into beds for all round access with paths between. The beds can be shaped to fit into your plot if it is not a regular rectangle or square. You can rotate your crops around the beds. If you only need a few plants of each veg. there is no reason why you can't grow the wide list of your choice. Be aware of spacing, air circulation, light, plant size, and water requirements. Overcrowding will produce spindly non-productive plants. Some squash and courgettes etc. can grow huge and make a lot of shade with their huge leaves.
    You have good productive soil with clay, it will need plenty of organic compost and grit dug into it to open it up to make it friable. 
  • Nanny BeachNanny Beach Posts: 8,586
    Lots of good advice here. Do you know about the 3 year rotation?  We have divided the veg plot in 6 compartments. Yes fruit separate and cage or netting. What about some small fruit trees. Start getting in the compost and manure now for the winter,then you can make a plan for next spring.i know some folk on here use spreadsheets I use a pretty notebook as a gardening almanac.
  • You could also buy a soil testing kit from your local garden centre to test your soil to see if there are any specific deficiencies. When I first moved here I was so concerned because I didn't see a single worm when digging. I did a soil test and discovered virtually no nutrients etc. Also, my soil is very slightly acidic.
    Clay soil is usually reasonably fertile but it might be an idea to check.
  • Thank you for all the suggestions, ideas and tips.  Now off to look up onion mats, soil testing kits and more  :)
    Coastal Suffolk/Essex Border- Clay soil
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