It’s the time of year when New Englanders become interested in planting vegetable gardens. Although some of the steps require a head start that may make it seem a little late to begin planting, for current and new garden enthusiasts, there’s still time to begin a healthy vegetable garden that will put food on the table for yourself, friends and family. This post will focus on the essential steps needed to produce some great vegetables.
The first endeavor is to select the site where you want your vegetable garden to exist. Following a few key principles will create a great start for your garden. It is essential to find a place with lots of sunlight. Although 10 hours of sunlight is ideal, the minimum recommended amount is 6 hours of full sun. Another factor in choosing a site is finding an area that is as flat as possible, avoiding slopes or areas that are not well drained. One key tip is to use raised vegetable beds. This will help with drainage issues. It may also be necessary to prune surrounding trees and shrubs that could block the sunlight.
After selecting a site, it’s time to decide what to plant. Remember, this is your vegetable garden so think about what not only you would like to eat but also what your friends and family may like also. There are a few key concepts to keep in mind when choosing your vegetables other than what tastes good. Knowing the hardiness zone of the soil is necessary. This refers to the geographic area where certain plant life can survive. For New England, a hardiness zone of 6.0-6.5 is common. When it is time to purchase seeds, it is important to make sure they come from a reliable source. Garden centers and seed catalogs are great places to find good seeds.
Soil preparation is another aspect of creating a prosperous garden. Getting a soil report will increase your chances greatly in preparing your soil. A soil testing kit can be purchased at stores such as Home Depot, Lowes, Target, and can also be found online. The soil test will provide pH and nutrient levels as will as indicating lime and/or fertilizer needed. Adding lime to the soil as early as possible is very important in preparing your soil. Your soil will also be improved by adding animal manures after having sufficient time to decompose and adding compost. It is important to remember what soil temperatures are appropriate for the type of vegetable you are planting. By reading the instructions on the seed packet, you can determine the ideal temperature for your crop.
Although you may be starting to plan for your vegetable garden now, it is quite possible that this idea has been brewing for some time. If you have started growing your seedlings in the winter you will need to transplant your growing vegetables. Before transplanting, make sure to gradually reduce the water in the soil and withhold fertilizer 10-14 days before moving the plants.
Finally, before you are ready to begin planting your vegetable garden, it makes sense to figure out whether or not you want to use containers for your plants. This can be in addition to or instead of planting directly in the ground. There are some practical considerations to explore before deciding to use containers for the garden. When choosing a container, make sure it hasn’t had any toxic materials stored in it. Also, when choosing plants, make sure they are compact plants. Some examples include tomatoes, peppers and lettuce. Avoid vegetables such as squash or sweet corn. When using containers for planting, use artificial potting mix instead of garden soils. Remember, containers dry out quickly, so watering the vegetables at least once and possibly twice a day will be necessary.
Now that summer is quickly approaching, you are ready to start creating a wonderful vegetable garden where all of your hard work will be realized. One last piece of advice: enjoy the process!