Have a Neat and Tidy Vegetable Garden? Yes, but Don't Go Crazy about It

Having a neat vegetable garden is the desire of many, but nature often does not allow itself to be harnessed into too rigid patterns and forms.

A neat and tidy vegetable garden

Just because the vegetable garden has a practical purpose, however, does not mean that it cannot also be beautiful, but there are limits to aesthetic pretensions.

Well-tended vegetable gardens can be as neat and attractive as perennial beds, and it is also more pleasant to work in a tidy garden, and even the plants will be healthier.

But...

On the web you see pictures of incredibly beautiful and tidy vegetable gardens, but don't be fooled: often the photos are taken shortly after planting when the seedlings have recently sprouted and are therefore, themselves, well fixed in shape.

Think of onions: when they sprout the aerial part appears stiff and upright but then, as they grow, it bends and then tends to yellow or flower.

The same argument can be made for zucchini, which, by their nature, tend to expand in a way that is difficult to control.

In short, not all vegetables look like heads of salad or ornamental cabbage, many plants have a pattern that cannot be totally controlled precisely because they cannot be pruned like box hedges.

Little secrets to a neat & tidy vegetable garden

In reality, there is no real "secret." The key to a tidy garden is maintenance.

Here are the points you should focus on to try to have a vegetable garden that is pleasant to look at as well as pleasant to taste, thanks to the 0-mile vegetables it will be able to give us.

A small aside: precisely because the vegetable garden is not the garden, always remember what its main purpose is, which is to provide us with healthy fruits and vegetables for our family.

Having a tidy vegetable garden whose production, however, is low or absent is a counter-sense.

What to do, then, to achieve both one thing and the other?

1. Plan your vegetable garden on paper

It all starts with a plan-we have seen this for the garden project, and the same is true for the vegetable garden.

Of course, it must be a sustainable project that takes into account what the vegetable garden might look like in all its stages of development and not a Pindaric flight that will fatally be doomed to crash.

Nature has its seasons and vegetables have their own growing cycle, plants do not vegetate and come into production all at once.

Fortunately, I would say! Staggering production over as long a period of time as possible is what every vegetable garden owner should do, to avoid having peaks of production concentrated in a short period of days and then little or nothing.

When designing the vegetable garden try to keep the shapes as simple as possible i.e., square or rectangular plots.

Take it from me: other more eccentric and spectacular shapes are often doomed to founder, especially if the beds are not enclosed along their perimeter by borders made of materials that can be the most varied, from stones to bricks, wood to steel.

If you take care to have a flowerbed larger than the plants it is to contain, that is, if the plants do not overflow beyond the perimeter of the flowerbed, then the shape of the flowerbed itself will always remain clearly visible, especially when looking at the vegetable garden from above.

2. Sort plants by type

For example, plant all greens in one area, root vegetables in another, and herbs in yet another.

Another solution is to create checkerboard beds, taking into account the plants' growing cycle, so that when one bed is not in production it will still be surrounded by others in the midst of their growing cycle.

This allows those tending the garden more opportunity for movement, and the plants are also better aerated.

However, all of this clashes with the necessary practice of crop rotation, which is designed to ensure that plants placed in the same beds over several years are not subject to disease.

3. Make raised garden beds

Having a raised vegetable garden greatly facilitates all care work and helps to keep, in itself, the vegetable garden tidy.

raised bed vegetable garden

Raised beds clearly define spaces and have the only disadvantage of being difficult to till when the time comes to spade and hoe the soil.

In contrast, the raised vegetable garden also helps people with disabilities or reduced mobility take care of the plants, which they clearly could not do if they had to stoop or kneel to reach ground level.

4. Create pathways

Creating orderly pathways within the vegetable garden is essential.

vegateble garden pathways

The walkway areas should be wide enough to allow them to be traversed even with all the tools needed to grow the vegetable garden, such as motor hoes, wheelbarrows and whatnot.

The walkway areas can be made of simple rammed earth or covered with gravel or even paved with beola or stones or whatever other material may come in handy.

The advantage of paved walkways lies in getting as little dirt as possible often when the ground is waterlogged and tends to muddy.

The disadvantage is that these paths will be fixed or nearly so, and thus take away arable land or at any rate some soil that could be spaded to set aside the plots cultivated in the previous year.

5. Mulching

Mulching is the cultural technique of keeping weed growth at bay while maintaining soil moisture and avoiding excessive water consumption for irrigation.

Weed barrier landscape fabric

Weed barrier landscape fabric works best and are also used professionally, in greenhouses and beyond.

Other materials such as straw, and even garden mowing residues can also be used.

Weed barrier landscape fabrics are the ones that best guarantee to maintain the tidy appearance of the vegetable garden also because the plants are automatically spaced evenly through the holes we create on the tarp.

The disadvantage is that the sheets must be removed at the end of the season to allow for spading and, when in use, they must be properly buried along the edge to prevent them from lifting up and flying off during windy days (possibly even uprooting the plants they were supposed to protect).

6. Dispose of plant residues and turn them into compost

Dispose of plant residues to prevent them from rotting on the ground, attracting insects that are dangerous to plants.

In many cases, plants need to be trimmed to increase production and/or to ensure better fruit ripening.

This is the case with the pruning of tomatoes, for example, which when not done causes the continuous shoots to turn the plants into inextricable thickets.

All plant residues can be placed in the compost bin to obtain excellent compost for use in the same garden, the following year.

7. Time and passion

Plan to spend at least 2 hours or more in the vegetable garden, per week, depending on the size of your garden.

elderly man cultivating vegetable garden

In reality, when you are in the vegetable garden, time goes by quickly between watering, harvesting, pest control and phytosanitary treatments.

Often vegetable garden care, especially if it is large, becomes for all intents and purposes a full-time job to which retirees also gladly devote themselves also because, as has also been scientifically proven, vegetable garden care helps keep both the body and the mind fit.