Find a Great Garden Spot
Selecting a great spot in your landscape to grow edibles is very important. There are a lot of things to consider, and some things will be more important to you than others.
One of the most important things that is easy to overlook is how your whole family uses your property. You don’t want your vegetable garden to get in the way of activities, and you certainly don’t want soccer balls flying into the tomatoes all summer. So as you consider all the other things your garden will need, hopefully those things will coincide with an out of the way little corner of the property. If not, well you can always put up a fence. I put up temporary fencing each season to keep out kids, rabbits, dogs and deer.
At least 6 hours of direct sun is critical for growing most edibles, 8 hours is better. Most of the things we grow to eat actually love sun all day long, tomatoes especially love 10 or 12 hours of direct sun. If parts of your garden are partially shaded you will just need to plan, and plant, accordingly. There are many vegetables and herbs that do very well with some shade and some that really need some shade. Watch throughout the day to see how long the sun shines directly on preferred garden sites, and keep in mind that that can change somewhat throughout the season. Early and late in the season when the sun is lower, much of the sunshine might be blocked by a building or perhaps a hedge.
Good soil of course is imperative to growing good vegetables. The organic amendments , microbial activity, and nutrients that are made available to your vegetables will in fact directly affect the flavor of your edibles. The soil in some areas of your property may be better than other areas, but the soil can be improved much more easily that other things like sun. Since you will want moist, well drained, enriched soil you should just plan to make amendments. Be sure to see the Soil Amendments article, as well as Basic Composting.
A nice flat stretch of dirt seems obvious for a garden. But if you have heavy clay soil like I do, a little bit of a slope will help with drainage so roots aren’t waterlogged. Too much slope though and heavy rain can not only wash out fertile soil, but take young plants down the hill too. Avoid low spots where water tends to pool and take a long time to dry out. High spots may require more water as moisture will drain off well. All of these potential issues can be resolved with hilling, raised beds, and appropriately improving the soil.
Access can mean a lot of things. Easy access to a watering hose is very important, you will not want to traipse back and forth repeatedly with a watering can. Easy access from your kitchen might be nice, in particular for herbs. Close access to your shed or garage so that your tools are handy can be a time saver. Access can also be just being able to easily get to each individual plant for routine care and harvesting. Wide paths, well spaced plants and stepping stones can help you to accommodate easy access to your plants.