As we become increasingly aware of our collective carbon footprint and its environmental impact, it makes more sense than ever to consider growing some of our own vegetables. In addition to superior quality and flavour, gardeners have the opportunity to grow heirloom or hard-to-find varieties—without having to pay premium prices for specialty produce. Not to mention, it makes you feel good to be eating the vegetables that you grew yourself!
Here are five factors to keep in mind to get your vegetable patch off to a great start:
For high-quality crops, all vegetable gardens require at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight daily. Ensure your garden’s southern exposure isn’t blocked by mature trees or structures, such as buildings, that will cast shade on your plot.
It’s always tempting to start off big, but vegetable gardens take a good deal of tending, so it’s prudent to begin small and expand gradually as you gain more experience. Bear in mind some vegetables—such as squash, melons, pumpkins and corn—require a great deal of real estate to spread out, so be aware of your plot’s spatial limitations.
The ground should be fairly level, although a garden that slopes gently to the south will produce earlier crops (colder air will flow down the slope, pulling warmer air in behind it).
If the area is covered with turfgrass, use a sharp spade to cut the sod into strips, then undercut the strips below the level of the grass roots; peel away the sod (it can be used to repair bare areas in the lawn or stacked upside down and composted).
Remove any tree roots or rocks, then aerate and amend the soil with plenty of organic matter (e.g., compost, shredded leaves or composted manure) to a depth of 30 to 45 centimetres. This can be done with a rototiller, or manually by double-digging (i.e., twice the depth of the spade or fork) to turn over the existing soil, break up clods and add organic matter. Don’t forget to elevate the area for better drainage.
Throughout the growing season, you will need access to each plant (for seeding, thinning, weeding, watering, managing pests and harvesting), and paths help keep everything within easy reach.
Traditionally, a path leads up the centre of the plot, with the vegetable rows arranged at right angles to it. Conventional wisdom has it that rows should run on a north-south axis so plants receive equal amounts of sunlight from both sides, but if this is impractical, don’t hesitate to run them in a more suitable direction. Remember to place tall crops (e.g., corn, peas, pole beans and tomatoes) at the north end of the patch so they don’t shade low-growing plants.
5. Unwelcome visitors
Regardless of where you live, there’s likely to be some local wildlife that’s every bit as enthusiastic about your plot’s bounty as you are. Depending on the kinds of marauders in your neighbourhood, you may need to install a physical barrier, such as fencing or netting.
These vegetables tolerate low temperatures and can be sown outdoors in early spring. (Those marked with an asterisk can also be planted in summer for fall harvest.)
- Brussels sprouts
We have made some edits to this post, but you can find the original one here! http://www.canadiangardening.com/gardens/fruit-and-vegetable-gardening/five-ways-to-get-your-vegetable-patch-off-to-a-great-start/a/20607/2