Planning A Vegetable Garden

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This article will help you plan a vegetable garden.
by Brett · All Zones · Food Gardens · 0 Comments · August 24, 2010 · 5,781 views

Vegetable Garden Design The size of your vegetable garden will determine, in part, many aspects of your garden plan. Large gardens where tractors will be used can be worked more easily with long rows; small gardens may be worked more easily in small raised beds with footpaths surrounding them.

Consider the size of your family and the amount of produce to be canned, frozen, stored or sold, as well as that used fresh.

Location Is Important

The garden should have a southern exposure (south side of your home) or be in an open area if at all possible. There should be a minimum of six hours of direct sunlight at the chosen location. A well-drained site or raised bed garden is ideal. Poor drainage may be improved by regrading, digging ditches, installing a tile drain field, or adding organic matter.

Nearby trees and shrubs may have extensive root systems that interfere with water and nutrient uptake of plants at your site.

There are other things to consider in planning your garden. Fertility requirements vary with the crop, so heavy feeders and light feeders may be grouped separately to help manage fertilization. Long-season crops such as eggplant, tomato, pepper, and okra should be planted so they don't interfere with replanting short-season crops such as beans and cole crops. Tall-growing crops such as pole beans, tomatoes, and corn should be planted so they don't shade shorter crops. You may not be able to accommodate all of these recommendations in your garden, but you should try to accommodate as many as possible to help insure a successful garden.

You should consider fencing the site if you have a significant wild animal population nearby. Deer, raccoons, and rabbits, to name a few, may become problems. Domestic animals such as dogs may also become a problem because many like to dig. Fences as high as 6 feet, an electric fence, or some combination may be required to control animals such as deer. Finally, for convenience, a location near the house is desirable.

Record Keeping

An important part of garden planning is record keeping. General information about soil amendments used and weather information (particularly rainfall and first and last frost dates) can be useful, especially when tracked from year to year. Specific information about a particular vegetable can also be helpful for future planning.

Information such as variety selection, planting date, days to harvest, disease, and insect problems should be noted. This data can help you determine which vegetables and varieties are best for your location.

Watering, fertilizing, and any cultural practices should also be recorded. This helps in determining what should be done in the garden from day to day.

Finally, keep track of what is grown where in your garden. This information will help with successive plantings and crop rotation.

The Right Plants

When to plant is also an important part of garden planning. Vegetables can be classed into two broad categories: warm- and cool-season crops. Warm-season crops can be further subdivided into tender and very tender vegetables, and cool-season crops can be subdivided into hardy and half-hardy crops. Very tender crops cannot stand any frost and will not do well under cool nighttime temperatures (below 55°F). Tender crops also don't like frost but can stand cooler night temperatures. Hardy cool-season vegetables can withstand frost and can be grown during the fall, winter and early spring in areas of the South (USDA Zone 7 and further south). Half-hardy cool-season vegetables can withstand cool temperatures and light frosts, but hard freezes and heavy frost can be detrimental.


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