by M. Arjoca, vegetalshapes.com

If we have the opportunity to choose, we must decide where the garden should be. This place must benefit from as much sun as can be because most plants (vegetables) need 6-8 hours bright light per day. So, first step is to choose (if possible) the brightest place, then you must decide what surface to use. That depends on what kind of garden you want because the plants need some certain space to develop and to bear fruits.

If we want an orchard we need large space, if we want just a flower garden it's not necessary to have a few hectares of land. If we want a vegetable garden we must know how many persons benefit from it. For example if we want tomatoes just to use some times in salads then 3-4 plants are enough, but if we want to eat and put in cans too, then the number of plants should be above 10.

The idea is that as bigger the space is, as much plants we can grow.

Even when the space is not large there are still chances to have a garden. A container garden on balcony, porch, roof or even on windowsill can be an option.

After choosing the place we have to decide how the garden should look. Here comes our personality type. We can choose for example, a formal style with geometrical and symmetrical patterns, with straight lines which give a feeling of control and formality or we can choose an informal style, with irregular shapes, curved lines which give a feeling of relaxation and natural. We can use ornamental objects (ceramics, glass, metal etc) to create a special charm or to camouflage an ugly wall. We can put a bench in a place we can rest from time to time and look to our work.

There are many articles about garden styles and computer programs which create virtual images of different types of gardens that may inspire you.

A simple method is to draw on a sheet of paper a ** sketch** of your land with the beds and paths you want to create, with the objects you want to use and of course with the plants you'll grow. You can make also pictures of the place from different angles, put over a transparent sheet and draw with a marker how you want the garden look. The advantage of this method is that you can see also the real image of the place.

After we have the idea of what kind of garden we want and how it should look, we measure the place and decide how many beds will be, what form, length and width they will have. There are plants which need larger space then others. For example, the squashes and melons cover a larger surface than the lettuce or carrots.

We don’t need sophisticated instruments or special mathematical skills for **measuring**. You can use:

- measuring tape;
- strings;
- 30-40 cm (15-20") sticks.

Following the sketchy plan from above we can fix the sticks in the corners of the place and tie the string on them so we can have a better image of the plot. Use the tape for measuring all sides and mark the values on paper. Proceed in the same way with each bed you make.

You can also use the sticks and string for sowing and planting to keep an equal distance between plants and a straight row in bed.

We can use our body to measure the sizes of the garden and beds as well as the distance between seeds or between plants and the soil depth for seeds sowing.

To find what length has the entire plot or each bed we can measure our ** footstep**. Make a step like when you walk and measure the distance between the heel of the first foot and the toe of the second foot. How many steps you need to make from a side to the other? If your step is 50 cm (1.6 ft) and you have to make 10 steps, the length of that side must be 5 m (5.4 yd).

The distance between beds (the path width) can be established measuring our ** sole**. Measure with a ruler the distance between the toe and the heel of our gardening shoe. How many steps (the heel of the first foot is bounded on the toe of the second foot) the path should have? If the length of the sole is 25 cm (9.8 ") and the path has 2 steps, then it will be 50 cm (1.6 ft) width.

Sometimes when we sow seeds or plant bulbs we must keep a certain distance between them. This is available for seedlings and transplants too. To do this we can use our ** hands**.

Measure how many cm (inch) width have your forefinger and middle finger when they stay closed together, how many cm (inch) are when the ring finger and the little finger come too. How many cm are between the thumb's tip and the forefinger's tip when these fingers have the maximum distance between them and how many are between the thumb's tip and the little finger's tip?

The depth for seeds sowing is different from plant to plant. For example the basil seeds don’t need to be covered with soil to germinate, but sunflower seeds must be sown at 2-3 cm depth (about 1").

To measure the depth we can use our ** fingers**. How many cm (inch) length has the first phalanx of the forefinger, how many have the first and the second phalanx and the entire finger?