Where to put the garden?

The choice for the location of the garden was easy. We picked the only sunny part of the yard. The layout of the yard and home is shown below:

We had tried for two years to have a garden in our backyard. We trimmed up the trees to allow in more sunlight but it was not enough. Our summer gardens did poorly and the winter plants did OK but grew slowly. The front yard has heavy trees except on the southwest side of the driveway. We cleared out a flower garden and put in the three cubic foot gardens. See below for a view of the location before the gardens were put in. You can even see the sun on the garden and the shade on the car in our driveway.

It is very important to know which direction is North (in those of you in the Southern Hemisphere, you will be looking to the North for the direction of the sun). The sun travels east to west through a southerly arc. The angle is much lower in the winter (37 deg) vs. the summer (83 deg, overhead). See below for the sun angle in Austin, Texas:

If you choose to put in a garden, make sure that it gets a good amount of solar exposure through the day. The good thing about the site chosen for this garden is that the very hot west sun after about 5pm in the summer get shaded out while the garden gets all of the morning and midday sun.

The winds come out of the South to South-Southwest for most of the year. During the winter, the cold winds come out of the northeast for up to a week or two before switching to the South again. This is important to consider since the winds will be a drying force on the garden in the summer and can affect the length of the growing season due to the cold winds freezing the garden if it is not protected.

The last key factor is the slope of the land. The cubic foot garden box needs to be level. If you have slope like we did, you will need to level and area before placing the garden box down in the chosen spot. See the diagram below for our situation:

It would seem that the gardens are just sitting above a bigger hole than the ~10 inch sides. That is true. In our case, we dug it to at least 12 inches(the reason the site is called Cubic Foot Gardening) and up to 18 inches deep. The sides of the boxes still sit on level ground but the centers of the boxes are deeper.

The level of the site is an important consideration. Don’t allow your box to be off of level. The soil will wash out of the box at some point in time if you are off level. The other problem is a crooked box just looks bad.