Is there a patch of land in your backyard that’s been left useless all this time? If you’re still undecided to what to make out of it, maybe it’s high time you consider planting vegetables in it.
Vegetables are easy to grow and are very healthy food. The first time you start a new garden requires the most amount of work, but don’t get discouraged, 0ther work you do in the beginning does not have to be done again each year.
The ground that the plants will grow in needs to be loosened up so that the roots of the tender vegetable plants can grow into your soil and make strong, healthy plants. The roots are the only way the plant takes up water and nutrients so you want to make their job easy.
Unfortunately, soil found in most yards has become compacted over the years and can be as hard as concrete in summer. Therefore, the best time to dig your garden is early spring when it is moist enough to dig easily.
An edible garden can be any size. An edible garden can be started in a small area. Courtyards, balconies, porches and very small gardens are all suitable sites. Vegetables are easy to grow and are very rewarding at harvest time. The most important requirements are sunshine and watering.
Grow your own healthy food. You can save $600 a year by planting a 20 by 30 foot garden and growing your own vegetables. There’s nothing as delicious as a tomato you’ve just picked from the vine or an onion that’s just been liberated from its underground world.
Gardening has many health and therapeutic benefits and can be very enjoyable. It’s an activity that everyone can enjoy. People with disabilities, seniors and children can find it especially rewarding to spend time in the garden tending plants and growing their own food. With some planning and thought, you can create an interesting, productive and pleasant space that can be used as an edible garden.
If you’re a beginner vegetable gardener, here are basics on vegetable garden planning: site selection, plot size, which vegetables to grow, and other gardening tips.
Remember this: It’s better to be proud of a small garden than to be frustrated by a big one!
One of the common errors for beginners is planting too much too soon and way more than anybody could eat or want. Unless you want to have zucchini taking up residence in your attic, plan carefully. Start small.
A good-size beginner vegetable garden is about 16×10 feet and features crops that are easy to grow. A plot this size, planted as suggested below, can feed a family of four for one summer, with a little extra for canning and freezing (or giving away).
Make your garden 11 rows wide, with each row 10 feet long. The rows should run north and south to take full advantage of the sun.
Vegetables that may yield more than one crop per season are beans, beets, carrots, cabbage, kohlrabi, lettuce, radishes, rutabagas, spinach, and turnips.
Turn your garden into a source of delight, good health and create your own backyard fitness center. You don’t need a lot of space – your edible garden can grow in pots, an old wheelbarrow or a couple of fruit boxes.
Other requirements are a loosened soil, some fertilizer, and a little bit of weeding. If you have an area in your yard that gets sunshine most of the day (6-8 hours in summer) then you can have a vegetable garden.
An edible garden does not have to be large. Your garden can start small with a few pots and containers or even just a window box with a few suitable cuttings or herbs.
Container gardening is an easy way to garden, especially when you lack yard space. Here are our recommendations on which vegetable varieties are container-friendly—and which container types are most suitable for each veggie.
For supplies, you only need a good container, the right soil mix, and appropriate seed (or transplant) varieties. In addition to providing 5 hours or more of full sun, watering is critical. You may need to water daily or twice daily; in hot weather the soil can dry out quickly. The good news: less weeding! Containers are generally low-maintenance.
Container: 5-gallon window box at least 12 inches deep
Varieties: ‘Danvers Half Long’, ‘Short ‘n Sweet’, ‘Tiny Sweet’
Container: 1 plant/1-gallon pot
Varieties: ‘Patio Pik’, ‘Pot Luck’, ‘Spacemaster’
Container: 5-gallon window box
Varieties: ‘Ruby’, ‘Salad Bowl’
Container: 5-gallon window box
Varieties: ‘White Sweet Spanish’, ‘Yellow Sweet Spanish’
Container: 1 plant/2-gallon pot, 5 plants/15-gallon tub
Varieties: ‘Cayenne’, ‘Long Red’, ‘Sweet Banana’, ‘Wonder’, ‘Yolo’
Container: 5-gallon window box
Varieties: ‘Cherry Belle’, ‘Icicle’
Container: Bushel basket
Varieties: ‘Early Girl’, ‘Patio’, ‘Small Fry’, ‘Sweet 100’, ‘Tiny Tim’
Tips for Growing in Containers
- Clay pots are usually more attractive than plastic ones, but plastic pots retain moisture better. To get the best of both, slip a plastic pot into a slightly larger clay pot.
- Avoid small containers. They often can’t store enough water to get through hot days.
- Add about 1 inch of course gravel in the bottom of the container to improve drainage.
- Vegetables that can be easily transplanted are best suited for containers. Transplants can be purchased from local nurseries or started at home.
- Feed container plants at least twice a month with liquid fertilizer, following the instructions on the label.
- An occasional application of fish emulsion or compost will add trace elements to container soil.
- Place containers where they will receive maximum sunlight and good ventilation. Watch for and control insect pests.
The ground that the plants will grow in needs to be loosened up so that the roots of the tender vegetable plants can grow into your soil and make strong, healthy plants. The roots are the only way the plant takes up water and nutrients so you want to make their job easy. Unfortunately, soil found in most yards has become compacted over the years and can be as hard as concrete in summer. Therefore, the best time to dig your garden is early spring when it is moist enough to dig easily.
An edible garden can be any size
An edible garden can be started in a small area. Courtyards, balconies, porches and very small gardens are all suitable sites. If you don’t need a raised garden bed, you can create a space directly into the soil in your garden.
Children can learn new skills, have fun, play and develop self-confidence by spending time in the garden tending plants and growing their own food. Most children enjoy being outdoors and love digging in the soil, getting dirty, creating things and watching plants grow.
Things to remember
- Gardening is a healthy activity that can be enjoyed by people of all ages.
- An edible garden can be started in a very small area or in containers or pots.
- Make sure your plants are non-toxic varieties and are edible.
- Don’t use chemical sprays or fertilizers in your edible garden
- Turn the Page to see how you can tickle the earth with a hoe and reap a harvest.
(Weather-Resistant Polyethylene Plastic Water-Saving 55-Gallon Rain Barrel)
Here’s an earth-friendly way to collect rainwater for watering your garden or patio plants. Made in the USA, these sturdy rain barrels recycled from shipping containers that would otherwise wind up in landfills. These recycled plastic barrels add a unique touch outside your home, and can even be painted to match your house, shed, fence or other exterior décor. Just feed your downspout into the slot on top. A screen on top keeps bugs and debris out; a spigot on the bottom lets you attach your garden hose. Harvest more water while modifying only one downspout – each barrel is outfitted with a linking fitting so that you can even connect multiple barrels. Long-lasting, heavy-duty recycled plastic won’t rot like wood and can be left outdoors year-round.)
Planting vegetable gardens require a lot of patience. You have to find what works for you, and experiment on getting the right type of soil for the right type of vegetables. All the hard work will be worth it, though, once you experience eating something that grew from a garden that you planted yourself.
I found this fun video from YouTube on how to grow potatoes in a trash can. It comes from The Old Farmers Almanac. Enjoy it.
The calendar tells us that spring is in fact, on the way. It’s easy to forget how close it is, but for everyone hoping to put in a garden this spring, there are some things you can do to get your garden ready for the warmer days of spring.
As you are waiting for the last of the snow to melt away, you can start thinking about what plants you will grow. It’s important that the plants you choose can grow successfully in the climate you live in. Don’t assume that just because your local nursery sells a certain type of plant or flower that it will grow in your climate.
You can consult a USDA zone map to find out what zone you live in, and then use books or websites about flowers and plants to find out which zones each variety grows best in. Many garden’s end up with problems with pests or having to use chemicals to get their plants to grow- and it could be that the wrong type of flowers were planted for the climate.
In addition to the climate conditions, you’ll also need to consider the type of sunlight your garden area receives and how much light the plant varieties you are selecting require to grow. Sunflowers need full sun most of the day, and will not grow in areas that are shady. Your local nursery can help you select plants depending on how much sun the area receives, or you can consult a book about plants as this information is generally included.
Once the snow melts, and the danger of cold, frosty nights has passed, you can begin to prepare the soil for planting. Soil preparation begins with testing your soil to find out what pH level your soil is, as well as how much of various nutrients are in the soil, including phosphorus, nitrogen, calcium, potassium and magnesium.
You should test your soil before beginning a garden; and then every three years after planting the garden. There are many facilities that will test the soil for you, including many local universities. You just put some soil into a sealed plastic bag, label it and send to the testing service.
The health of your soil depends on the drainage. Root growth is effected by soil with poor drainage, and the absorption of nutrients by the plants is greatly effected by too much or too little drainage. You can test your drainage ability with a simple, do-it-yourself test.
Dig a hole about six inches across and twelve inches deep. Put water in the hole and let it drain. Once the water has drained, fill it again and time how long it will take the water to completely drain out of the hole. If it takes more than eight hours, you have a problem with your drainage that will affect the growth of plants.
In areas without drought, a common mistakes new gardeners make is watering too much!
To address the big watering question, below is a chart that tells you critical times to water each vegetable crop as well as the number of gallons of water needed.
Of course, these guidelines assume that you have rich, well-balanced soil. Increase frequency during hot, dry periods.
|Vegetable||Critical time(s) to water for a 5-foot row||Number of gallons of water needed|
|Beans||When flowers form and during pod-forming and picking||2 per week depending on rainfall|
|Beets||Before soil gets bone-dry||1 at early stage; 2 every 2 weeks|
|Broccoli||Don’t let soil dry out for 4 weeks after transplanting.||1 to 1 1/2 per week|
|Brussels sprouts||Don’t let soil dry out for 4 weeks after transplanting.||1 to 1 1/2 per week|
|Cabbage||Water frequently in dry weather for best crop||2 per week|
|Carrots||Before soil gets bone-dry||1 at early stage; 2 every 2 weeks as roots mature|
|Cauliflower||Water frequently for best crop.||2 per week|
|Celery||Water frequently for best crop.||2 per week|
|Corn||When tassels form and when cobs swell||2 at important stages (left)|
|Cucumbers||Water frequently for best crop.||1 per week|
|Lettuce/Spinach||Water frequently for best crop.||2 per week|
|Onions||In dry weather, water in early stage to get plants going.||1/2 to 1 per week if soil is very dry|
|Parsnips||Before soil gets bone-dry||1 per week in early stages|
|Peas||When flowers form and during pod-forming and picking||2 per week|
|Potatoes||When the size of marbles||2 per week|
|Squash||Water frequently for best crop.||1 per week|
|Tomatoes||For 3 to 4 weeks after transplanting and when flowers and fruit form||1 gallon twice a week or more|
|Needs a lot of water during dry spells.||Needs water at critical stages of development.||Does not need frequent watering.|
( Homemade Weed Killer 1 gallon of white vinegar 1/2 cup salt Liquid dish soap (any brand) Empty spray bottle Put salt in the empty spray bottle and fill it the rest of the way up with white vinegar. Add a squirt of liquid dish soap. This solution works best if you use it on a hot day. Spray it on the weeds in the morning, and as it heats up it will do its work.)
What To Look For As Fall Comes..
As you begin to wind down and clean up, take notes of what worked and didn’t. Peak planting and dividing time is coming up now; make that work include some focus on the addition of fall and winter plants to the landscape.
Mark areas that would have been easier to maintain with a workhorse ground-cover in place, for instance, or areas where more bulbs might fit. I have already made a walk and identified a few shrubs whose days are numbered; (well, for the space they take up).
- Be sure to water trees and shrubs now through hard frost, so that they enter dormancy in a well-hydrated state. Evergreens (needled ones and broad-leaf types like rhododendron, too) are particularly vulnerable to desiccation and winter-burn if not well watered before the cold and winds set in.
- Hopefully you stopped feeding woody plants in July or August. Promoting more soft growth after July isn’t good; time for them to start moving toward the hardening-off phase of their cycle. No more eats till earliest spring.
- As vegetable plants (and annual flowers) fade, pull them to get a start on garden cleanup. Before composting the remains, cut them up a bit with a pruning shears or shred, to speed decomposition. That said, my earliest crop of lettuce each spring comes from a ‘Black Seeded Simpson’ plant I just let flower and self-sow in a corner of the garden year after year. Untidy to some eyes, but it always makes me smile.
- If you harvested your own garlic, save the best heads with the biggest cloves for replanting later this month or next (about a month before frost is in the ground). Otherwise, order bulbs now. Prepare a sunny spot, and plant each clove 1-2 inches deep and 6 inches apart in the row, with about 12 inches between rows. Green growth will happen this fall, which is great; don’t panic. It’s a hardy thing
- Many popular annuals can be overwintered as young plants if you take and root cuttings now rather than try to nurse along leggy older specimens. Geraniums, coleus, wax begonias, even impatiens (to name just a few common ones), if grown in good light indoors and kept pinched and bushy, will yield another generation of cuttings for next spring’s transplants.
Earth is here so kind, that just tickle her with a hoe and she laughs with a harvest.
Make Sure You Visit Zukeeni….It’s a smart garden planner Journal that tracks, collects and shares. Zukeeni Vegetable Garden Planner keeps your Journal up to date, so you don’t have to. So go ahead, enter notes, and photos too.
Every time you check off a To Do, it gets automatically logged in your Journal. Or anytime you set a date in your Journal, it checks off that To Do for you.
Either way, it’s designed to be the easiest way to track your garden over time. It’s also finds and shares all other’s gardeners notes and photos about the same varieties you are growing.
A website that plans your garden…..you tell it where you live, it tells you what to plant and when, designs your garden for you, and gives you daily reminders of what to do!
Hi there! Thanks for visiting. We’d LOVE for you to hang around!
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