Site & Design
The ideal vegetable garden has ample sun, access to water and is right out your back door for easy access.
But nothing is perfect, we know. Choose a spot in your yard that will get 6+ hours of sunlight per day. If you don't have this, you can still grow things like lettuces & kale, but tomatoes, squash, peppers, cucumbers, etc all need at least 6 to thrive.
We get plenty of rain in the midwest, but there are still boiling hot days where you will want to water your garden, so having water access & a hose is good.
Proximity to your house is also important because if you place your garden way out in the back 40, you may never actually go out there and enjoy it.
The size of your garden should reflect the amount of time you have and your enthusiasm! On the smaller side 4, 8' beds would give you a good amount of growing space. You can certainly go bigger than that. Much smaller and you'll be spending a lot of time to set up for a small growing space.
Beds should be max 4' so you can reach across from the paths on either side without ever stepping onto the bed. For beds against the fence with access from only one side, 2' max. Our beds are about 30" wide because we like to be able to step over the bed and quickly trim arugula or pick spinach down the bed.
Paths can be 18-24" wide. You don't need to use precious growing space in your garden for extra wide paths and 18-24" gives you plenty of room to move around.
Wherever you site your gate, do give yourself a bit of extra landing space inside the gate. The following photos show the relative path/bed size and then a view from the gate looking in to a wider woodchip area. This is useful for placing tools, harvest baskets, etc. as you garden.