The weather is getting warmer, so it’s time to start putting your vegetable garden together! Growing your own vegetables is a great activity to do with your family, and it’s good exercise. Nothing tastes better than your own home-grown vegetables, and if you end up with too many your neighbors will be sure to enjoy them. The Answer Man is here to help with all your garden questions!
First thing’s first: you’re going to need to know where your vegetable garden will be. Your garden will need to be on flat ground that receives plenty of sunlight (6-8 hours per day). Are you building in-ground or above-ground in planter boxes? If you’re building an in-ground garden you’ll need to make sure the soil is good for growing. The soil needs to be able to retain water well, but not well enough so that it’ll drown your plants. If you need to change your soil’s composition, consider mixing in some compost that your plants will love.
How big are you going to make your garden? It’s best not to start too big or you might become overwhelmed by the upkeep—or the amount of produce you won’t know what to do with! It’s best to start small with a few types of vegetables. You can always add on to your garden later!
Consider how you are going to lay out your garden. You’ll need enough room to walk around to weed your garden beds. You don’t want to walk on the soil or it might squish it down and cause problems for your plants. If you’re growing a good variety of vegetables, read how high the plants will grow.
You shouldn’t plant a short plant behind a tall plant where it won’t get any sunlight—unless it’s a “cold season” plant that will enjoy the break from the sun. You’ll also need to consider how the sunlight moves around your space before planting anything. It’s better to plant taller plants on the north side of your garden.
What you decide to plant in your garden is all up to you– and what will grow best in your region. Look up what plants thrive in your area and continue from there. There are 11 different USDA plant hardiness zones that can help you determine what plants will grow the best in your area. You should also consider what vegetables your family enjoys eating. There’s no reason to plant something you aren’t going to eat.
Some of the best veggies to start with are:
Tall plants like tomatoes and beans will need stakes or trellises to keep them upright. The taller they get and the more they produce, the heavier they will get and the more likely they are to fall over.
If you want fresh garden vegetables from early spring to late fall, plan your garden accordingly. There are “cold season” and “warm season” vegetables. Your cold season vegetables are going to be veggies like lettuce, peas, and broccoli that you will plant in the early spring or early fall for early summer and early winter harvest. Your veggies for the warm season will be tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, and cucumbers that you’ll plant in late spring for summer harvests. You can always freeze or can vegetables to enjoy them throughout the winter.
You’ll also want to consider different harvest periods. Planting some of your crops a few weeks apart will give you different harvesting times and allow you to enjoy fresh vegetables throughout the season.
Taking care of your garden is the most important part of gardening. Make sure you have enough time each day to look over your plants and make sure they’re doing well. You’ll need to weed around the plants to make sure nothing invasive takes over your garden.
When watering your plants, make sure you are watering the base of the plant near the ground and not any leaves. Watering the leaves will lead to leaf spotting and potentially fungal diseases. Water your plants 2-3 times a week to make sure your plants are getting enough water. If it’s the heat of summer, you may need to water them every day.
You might run into a few pests here and there. Planting a few marigold flowers throughout your garden can help deter pests! They are a natural bug repellent, invite welcome pollinators, and add some beautiful color to your garden. However, they won’t repel everything so a basic bug repellent like a mixture of dish soap and water sprayed on your plants can help. These will not repel deer or other animals that might find your garden a delicious snack, so consider setting up a fence or some netting to make sure they can’t get to your plants.
Gardening is a fun hobby to start and will provide your family with fresh vegetables throughout spring to fall. Nothing is more satisfying than eating vegetables you grew yourself. Visit one of our C&C Farm and Home Stores in Bolivar or Lebanon for all your garden needs.