Planting a Vegetable Garden
When planting vegetables, careful planning is the key to success. Before you even determine which seeds you’d like to plant, you must designate a space for your vegetable garden and come up with a detailed plan. Find the sunniest place in your yard and start there. If you don’t have a large enough plot for everything you’d like to grow, you may chose to construct raised planter beds. It is not unusual to grow vegetables in containers on patios, decks, or anywhere else with ample sunlight. A vegetable garden should receive about 6 hours of full sunlight a day. Many vegetables thrive under these conditions as the soil gets warm sooner and stays warm longer, promoting healthy growth. Raised beds also afford better drainage, as the water cannot flood the water logged plants and soil. This is important also when rain storms hit for drainage reasons.
Next, you need to consider the soil that you will grow your vegetables in. The soil should be fertile and provide the plants with plenty of vitamins and nutrients. You should add plenty of organic humus such as well composted manure. If you are re-cultivating in the same space as perhaps last year, there is not much to do but enrich the soil with additional organic materials as last years’ crop probably sucked most of the nutrients out. The soil should be light and airy, allowing the roots to develop in a healthy manner.
Draw out a schema for each and every seed. Take spacing into account as it’s very important. Some vegetables do not need much space to thrive while others need a lot. Some root shallow while some root deep. Take advantage of the knowledge you have of each specific seed and make better use of your space. If you plant a row of deep rooting vegetables, utilize the space between the seeds by planting shallow rooting plants. They will not get in the way of one another. Another thing to take into consideration is the direction your planter is facing. If you are planting a combination of crops, you will need to place them according to height so that the taller plants do not shade the shorter ones. Taller plants should be on the north side of the garden. As a general rule, rows of plants should run east to west. This will prevent those larger crops from shading the shorter ones.
Establish your walkways early so that you are not trekking through your garden, overly compressing the soil which can suffocate roots, or displacing seeds. Mark your beds well, noting what you are planting, when you planted and when you should expect sprouting seedlings.
Once you have developed a clear plan, you can start sowing. Use stakes and a piece of string to ensure straight rows. Place your seeds at the appropriate depth and plant extras. Not all will germinate and the extra seeds will cover the ones that do not. Firmly cover the seeds, creating a cocoon of moisture and water lightly, making sure not to disrupt the seeds or roots. Always keep the seedlings moist to ensure steady growth. When you see them sprout for the first time, be patient. Wait until they have sprouted two or three leaves before you prune. Let the roots develop before you prune which can put a bit of stress upon them.
If you’re planting during sweltering summer months, do it early in the morning or late in the evening, once the temperature has cooled off a bit. The heat can take a lot out of the plants, making the transition more stressful, leading to fewer thriving plants.
Again, planning is the key. A successful, fruitful garden depends on a few things:
1. Designate a sunny, well drained space for your vegetable planter.
2. Aerate and amend your soil with plenty of organic matter.
3. Draw a schema for your seeds, taking into account the height of the plant, the depth of the roots and the space needed around it.
4. Establish walkways so you do not damage root systems or overly compact soil.
5. Sow seeds in straight lines, taller plants on the north side of the planter.
6. Wait for the magic to happen and prune when necessary.
7. Enjoy homegrown vegetables!
When you taste the freshness of home grown sweet corn or vine ripened tomatoes on your family’s dinner table, you will know that all of the hard work was worth it. Home gardening is also a great way to spend time with your children, teaching them that hard work and diligence pays off directly with delicious homegrown vegetables.
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