Every summer I wish I had planted a vegetable garden in the spring. I have planted vegetables a few times in my life, but not for years. This is the year I plan to have fresh vegetables again! Is this the year you will plant your own vegetable garden? Spring is right around the corner so let’s make it happen! Start small and start with a plan.
What should you plant in your new garden? Decide what vegetable or vegetables you want to grow. Start with just one or two vegetables this year so you don’t get overwhelmed or harvest more than you can handle (been there, done that). Choose a vegetable your family actually likes to eat!
Cherry tomatoes are easy to grow and can be grown in a container on your patio or balcony. Start with a plant from your local garden center. Plant after the last frost and stake the plant to keep the tomatoes off the ground. Zucchini, squash and bell peppers are also very easy to grow for beginners. I start with a plant instead of seeds because of the long growing season of some these vegetables, and because it’s easier! You can also find tomato container garden kits in garden centers.
Where should your garden be located? Pick a sunny spot for your garden or container. Most vegetable plants need 5-8 hours of full sun to do well. A location by a fence or wall that protects them from the wind is best for good results. Try planting marigolds at the outside edge of your garden. The strong odor will help keep pests away.
What kind of soil is best? If using a container for your plants, make sure you use a good all-purpose garden soil and good drainage. It is often recommended to add peat moss to help hold moisture in container gardens and add fertilizer. For vegetables planted in ground gardens it is also very important to have good drainage. Clear the soil of weeds and rocks. Till the ground and work compost or manure into the soil. You may have to amend the ground depending on the type of soil you have – clay or sandy. If you have clay soil, add sand and peat moss along with your compost. It will be much easier to work with next year! If you have sandy soil, mix in a good garden top soil, peat moss and humus to your compost mix. Compost will help with drainage and add nutrients.
How often should you water? Water your garden one or two inches once a week. It’s better to soak your garden once a week than to water it less more often because it encourages the roots to grow deep. Light watering may cause roots to grow shallow. Water more often if the weather has been hot and dry. Use a soaker hose to avoid getting the foliage too wet. The recommended best time of day to water is early morning, but late afternoon is also good. Add mulch to keep water from evaporating and the plants warm. And remember to be consistent with your watering.