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Homeschool Garden Club - How to plan your vegetable plot

Strictly speaking, this should be done first and next year we will be doing that. However, with the potatoes in the potatoes sacks, the tomatoes allocated a hot spot in the garden, the strawberries, green beans and broccoli on order, I have an idea of how much space I have left. Next week I will think about what vegetables and companion planting I will need and where I am going to grow these crops.

(With thanks to my NVQ learners who work in the local garden centres and helped put this guild together.)

The first thing to know is that there is already a lot of scientific work done in this area. To keep the soil health there needs to a rotation of the annual fruit and vegetables going in.

It is important to look at last year's map of the Orchard Training Homeschool Plot to see what went were and more importantly what needs to go in next. Then you need to decide on which varieties of each crop you would like to eat. There is no point in growing anything if you are not going to eat it.

You can, of course, grow more at home or at the allotment but you need to remember that 100 plants can fit in to a space big enough to 10 plants. So, make a map of your space and measure it up well. Ask your study buddies what they are thinking of growing and agree to share a packet of seeds so you have one or 2 courgette plants and not 12. 2 courgettes plants will give, a family of 4, enough courgettes over the summer.

Think also about the hight of your plants and where there are areas that get lots of sun during the day. We don't want the wigwams of beans overshadowing smaller plants.

Another to think about is how you want your garden to look. Will it be like we do in the Orchard Training Homeschool Garden where we are layering it, like in a forest or will it be more allotment like with neat rows. Both are the right way to design a vegetable garden, it is more about what you like.

Different vegetables grow better when put together with a companion plant, these are plants that can help deter pest and others help to improve disease resistance. So, even if you like the neat allotment look you might like to plan in some flowers and herbs.

Once your plan is all drawn up, don't forget to label it clearly and return your homework for marking. This will give us time to order the seed for next spring. If we order as a group we can get a discount and free postage.

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