Starting a vegetable garden

Posted by Kim Ciuffreda on Monday, April 29th, 2019 at 2:24pm.

Starting a vegetable garden can be done regardless of how much space you have. You can start your new garden in a large yard or in smaller areas like a terrace, balcony or even on your window ledge.

Just imagine sitting down to dinner and reaping the benefits of your hard work as you crunch on peppers, carrots or brussels sprouts.

The first step will be to create a plan. Where will your new garden go? How much time do you want to spend tending to your garden (this will determine what plants you will grow) and how to structure your space.

I recommend that you start small and learn as you go. If you plant too many, you are setting yourself up for failure. You will need to learn what will work for your garden and maintain it, which could be overwhelming. As the years go on, and you become better and better, you can add more beds.

Step one – where should the garden go?

Once you have an idea of where you would like your garden to go, watch the area and note how much sun that area will get in a day. Most vegetables like sun, so you should avoid areas that have too much shade.

Some plants also need shelter from wind. If they are planted in an area with too much wind, the roots could be affected, and the plant can get wind burn.

Once you found the perfect area, you will want to prep the ground. Make sure you clear the soil of all weeds, plants and grass.

Step two – layout

Raised beds, traditional rows, square foot garden and so on. You will need to decide on the layout that will work for you.  In general, it’s a good idea to have garden beds 4 feet wide with a 2-foot path between them.

It is best to divide the area, depending on what you are growing. Example, if you would like root plants (such as potatoes) you would want that area separated from the area in which you grow legumes (such as beans). Your layout will depend on how many varieties you are growing.

You should also keep in mind that you will want to rotate your garden yearly. You will want to avoid putting the same plant in the same soil for four years to prevent build-up of pests and depletion of the soil’s nutrients.

I also suggest that you have a small path between sections. This will help when you are maintaining and picking food.

If you are not growing your vegetables in the ground, you can also use pots. If you are using this method, just make sure the pot you choose is large enough and placed in an area that will help the plant thrive.

Another layout is using raised beds. This method is typically used when you have a soil issue. Depending on where you live, and what you would like to grow will help determine if you need a raised bed. If you have a thin layer of top soil, you may need a raised bed to deepen the soil. You will want to learn the type of soil you have (sand, clay, chalk) before you can determine what you will need in your layout.

Step 3 – Planting

You will want to choose your plants based on the space you have. If you are limited on space, you should not plant space hungry crops such as corn, watermelon and pumpkins.

Trellising is also a great option if you are limited on space. Your plants can grow up rather then out. This is great for climbing varieties like peas, tomatoes and cucumbers. Make sure these plants do not grow in an area where they will provide too much shade to other plants.

You should also keep records of what plants you have planted in what beds, and how well they did. This will help you remember what you did that worked, and what did not work.

Tender plants – tomatoes, pepper and eggplants are all considered tender. These plants love heat and will grow best in a warmer climate. If you live in a cooler climate, make sure they are in a spot that will give them the most sun.

Vines – if you are planting crops that like to spread out and vine (melons, squash) make sure they are on the edge of your beds, so they do not cover your other plants.

Don’t overcrowd your garden. The plant will look small when you start, but in time they will grow and they will need room to do so.  Overcrowding plants or growing in poor-quality soil will set you up for failure.

Happy Planting!

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