GUIDE: Successful vegetable gardening involves far more than just popping a few seeds into the ground and waiting for a tomato to appear. Now I’d like to give you some gardeners’ tips for a successful natural vegetable garden with three steps as Planning your garden, Preparing the soil, and then... Planting your vegetables!
Step I: Planning Your Vegetable Garden
Planning a garden requires that you take a number of variables into consideration. The sections found below will help you select garden enhancements, grow a container garden, grow a garden indoors, plant seeds properly, select plants for your climate zone, create a theme garden, and attract birds and butterflies to your garden.
As you sit down to plan your garden, please consider adding a few extra plants and donate a little of your bounty to your local food bank or second harvest organization. Give a helping hand to those who may not have the opportunity to grow their own food.
For the best success, a vegetable garden should be well planned out in advance. The site location is of the utmost importance. A spot near the house in full sunlight is the normally the most convenient spot, however, drainage, soil quality, and shade from buildings or trees may mean the garden must be located in an area farther from the house.
A good vegetable garden must have at least six hours of full sun each day in order for your food crops to mature properly. No amount of fertilizer, water, or care can replace needed sunshine.
The soil should be very fertile and well draining so that water never puddles after a rain storm. While good air movement around a garden is important, windy areas should be avoided because winds can dry out or break plants. Choose a spot close to a water supply for convenience, and to avoid having to use long lengths of hoses.
Planting a vegetable garden where it can be visited frequently will allow you to monitor plant pests and the general health of the garden more easily.
Your choice of vegetables will be largely determined by the likes and dislikes of your family. If you expect to consume large quantities of a type of vegetable, it is usually more cost effective to start your plants from seeds indoors. Some types of plants resent transplanting and must be sown directly into the garden where they are to be grown.
In other instances it is best to purchase bedding plant starts to extend the growing season long enough to insure the maturity of the crop. As you plan and map out your vegetable garden, be sure to consider the information found on Vegetable Growing tips in your criteria of what and where to plant.
When planning your garden, consider what and how much you will plant. It is better to have a well maintained, small garden than a large one neglected and full of weeds. Usually, the garden should be surrounded by a sufficiently high fence with close mesh to keep out dogs, rabbits, and other animals. A fence also can serve as a trellis for beans, peas, tomatoes, and other crops that need support. It is helpful to draw a diagram of your prospective garden, mapping out each row according to height, plant requirements and other criteria.
The direction of the rows isn't necessarily critical, but often it is a good idea to have them running east-west, thereby allowing you to plant your tallest crops on the north end of the plot, and successively shorter crops in front. This prevents shading of the shorter plants.
If you must plant your garden on a hill, cut your furrows on a contour with the land, so that the water won't run quickly down the hill, taking with it the valuable topsoil, and the nutrients needed for your plants.
Perennial vegetables such as rhubarb and asparagus should be planted off to the side where they won't interfere with future plowing. Early producing crops (radishes, lettuce, spinach, carrots, beets, onions, etc.) should be grouped together with extra space for successive plantings. After they are finished for the season, this will allow you to easily rework the area for later season crops.
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Step II: Preparing the Soil
Step III & IV: Planting Vegetables & Sowing Vegetable Seeds
Step V: Setting in Vegetable Starts
* Original post: The Garden of Eden for Gardeners