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How to Plan A Successful Vegetable Garden, Part 1

While you can have a successful vegetable garden without thinking about how you’re putting it together, it’s a lot more likely if you do. If you’re trying to raise your vegetables organically it’s particularly important to think about how you set up your garden.

Some of what I talk about in this set of posts may seems obvious, but sometimes it’s the simple things that can make or break your harvest.

Where to Place Your Garden
  • A place the receives at least 6 hours of sun per day, more is better. Some veggies can use a bit less, such as cucumbers and leafy greens.
  • A convenient spot is important, usually closer to your home is better. If you can’t get water to the garden or it’s too far away for you to get around to taking care of it, then it’s not a good spot.
  • If possible, place beds at least 25 feet from any large trees. If installed too close, tree roots will grow into the beds and compete with your veggies. You can remove the roots every few years if need be, but it’s easier if you don’t have to spend the effort.
  • A spot that doesn’t flood. While this may not be obvious at first, look around the spot where you garden is and figure if it’s a low spot that might flood. If this is the only spot in you yard that gets enough sun, then consider a raised bed.
Raised Beds Keep Vegetables From Being Flooded

Raised Beds Keep Vegetables From Being Flooded

Which Vegetables to Grow
  • If you don’t like Brussels sprouts, for example, don’t plant them.
  • But, trying something new is one of the really fun parts of gardening.
  • Different varieties of the same vegetable are adapted to particular areas. Lots of seed catalogs have this information. Choose ones that are best for where you live
Sweet Potatoes- Grew for the First Time in 2010

Sweet Potatoes- Grew for the First Time in 2010

How Much to Plant
  • If you’re a family of five, two tomato plants probably aren’t enough.
  • If you’re thinking about preserving your harvest to eat through the winter, you need to plant more.
  • If you have pests or diseases that are hard on certain vegetables, plant more. I have this problem with Cucumbers and Cucumber Beetles/Bacterial Wilt, so I plant extra every year.
When to Plant

-Some vegetables grow best in cool or hot weather. If you only plant one type, you’ll have limited your harvest to a shorter time and smaller harvest than if you plant a mix.

  • Cool: Lettuces, Arugula, Broccoli, Peas, & Carrots among others
  • Warm: Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Peppers, Melons & others
Broccoli- A Cool Season Vegetable

Broccoli- A Cool Season Vegetable

-Some veggies you can plant multiple times per year. If you leave space in your garden to plant beans every couple of weeks you’ll give yourself an even harvest throughout the growing season.

Several plantings

  • Beans
  • Lettuce
  • Carrots
  • Beets

Two plantings ( Early Spring & Late Summer)

  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Peas

-Some plants, like onions and leeks, take a long time to mature so they need to be planted early, perhaps even started indoors

-Tender plants (generally the warm season plants- see above) should be put out after the last frost date for your area. You can get this information in many places, but a good one is your local Extension office.

-Some plants taste better when grown/harvested at certain times. A lot of the cold season vegetables taste sweeter after a frost or two.

Look for part 2 later this week

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