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Planning Your Vegetable Garden:
It is hard to beat the fresh flavor and high nutritional value of fresh organically grown food. If you have never eaten fresh peas just picked from the garden or enjoyed a summer salad just harvested from your own yard, or if you have had a small vegetable garden in the past and are interested in learning more about how to grow your own food organically, this article may be of use to you!
If you are new at vegetable gardening it is best to start with a small garden that you can successfully manage and then expand each year until your garden reaches a point where it is still manageable with your daily life, yet provides you with the amount of fresh vegetables, greens and herbs that you desire.
Before you jump in and start a vegetable garden, doing a little planning will go a long way to ensuring that you are successful. When planning a garden, it is important to ask a few basic questions:
Who will be doing the work in the vegetable? Will the garden be a group project with family members or friends who will work willingly through the season to a fall harvest, or will you be handling the daily chores associated with vegetable gardening by yourself? Remember that a small weed-free garden will produce more than a large, weedy mess.
What do you and your family like to eat? Although the pictures in the garden catalog look delicious, there is no value in taking up gardening space with vegetables that no one eats. Make a list of your family’s favorite vegetables, ranked in order of preference. This will be a useful guide in deciding how much of each vegetable to plant. Successive plantings of certain crops such as beans, lettuce and carrots can be harvested over a longer period of time and increase your yield. As you plan, list recommended varieties and planting dates.
How do you plan to use the produce from your garden? If you plan to can, freeze, dry or store part of the produce, this will be a factor not only in planning the size of the garden but also in selecting varieties. Some varieties have much better keeping quality than others. Care should be used in choosing the seeds, making sure the varieties you select are adapted to your area and intended use. When selecting seeds always look for organic seeds whenever possible. You can order reasonably priced fresh organic seeds from Stargazer Perennials - and shipping is FREE!
Finally, how much space is available for a vegetable garden? How much area can be converted into usable garden space, and how much garden do you need? Do not plant more garden than you need.
Vegetable Garden Site Selection and Layout:
Site selection for your vegetable garden is one of the most important parts of the planning process. Once you establish a site for your garden and put in a large amount of time and effort into preparing the beds, you will not want to relocate your garden the next year. A properly chosen site will also help you to avoid many problems in the future due to inadequate drainage or poor sunlight exposure. When choosing a site for your vegetable garden, take into account the following factors:
Vegetables require a minimum of 6 hours of direct sunlight each day. Avoid areas where neighboring trees will shade vegetables during the summer.
Good drainage is essential for proper vegetable growth. Avoid areas that accumulate runoff from rain or irrigation.
Most vegetables require at least 1” of water per week. Select an area that has easy access to irrigation water.
Once you have decided on the location, which crops and how many plants you are going to grow, it's time to decide where they best fit in the garden. The tall crops such as peas, beans and corn, should be planted on the north side of the vegetable garden. In this way they will not shade the rest of the vegetable crops. In the center of the vegetable garden area, plant the medium sized crops such as cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, tomatoes, squash, pumpkins and other mediums sized crops. Then at the very southern end of the garden is where the low growing crops like radishes, carrots, beets, lettuce, onions and other low growing ones are planted. Whenever possible, the rows in the vegetable garden should run north and south, for best sun exposure and air circulation. If the rows run east and west the first row tends to shade the second row, the second row the third and so forth...