This year I plan on starting a vegetable garden at my home. I love the idea of having fresh vegetables to use when cooking (not to mention the cost savings). Now is the perfect time of the year in New England to begin preparing the garden for the summer and fall harvest. I am planning on planting tomatoes, peppers, zucchini and maybe some green beans and/or broccoli. I plan on getting the plants from a local farm and maybe starting a few from seed in my garden. I will see what they recommend for the New England area and a gardening beginner like me and update you on the specific plants used.
Here are the steps needed in order to create your own vegetable garden:
Scope out your yard
When planning a vegetable garden from scratch there are a few things to consider: location, sunlight and convenience. The area you choose to plant your garden should get about 6 hours of full sunlight a day. Ideally, this sunny location is close to your home and a water supply for optimum convenience. Finding a spot close to the house not only makes it easier to grab the vegetables and bring them into the house, it also allows you to keep a good eye on the garden.
There are a few things to consider here: how you will be planting the vegetables and which types of vegetables will you be planting? The best way to easily answer these two questions is to map out your garden. Think about the vegetables that your family eats the most and plant those. Also take the weather into consideration as some vegetables grow better in certain areas than others.
Variety is key when it comes to choosing your plants. Make sure you take harvesting into consideration so you have a constant stream of crops throughout the summer. You can also stagger the planting to achieve this as well. Remember- taller plants should be towards the back of your garden so they don’t block the sun for the shorter plants. Depending on the size of your garden, be sure to take pathways and weeding into account so you don’t compact the soil around the plants.
The quickest way to start your garden? Go to your local store or farm and get vegetable plants. Chances are, if you planned on starting from a seed, you have already started doing so indoors.
Prepare the area
Check the ph of your soil and adjust as needed for whatever vegetables you will be planting. Most vegetables do best in a soil within a ph of 6.2 to 6.8. You may need to add some lime to acidic soil (under 5.8) or sulfur to alkaline soil (above 7.2) Composting material should also be added. Dig up the area and/or use a rototiller to break up the soil. You should go down at least 1 foot deep. Add about 2 inches of compost matter into the soil and mix it all together. Your soil should be about 10-15% compost.
Plant those Veggies
Based on the type of vegetable you are growing, you need to be sure you dig the holes deep enough and keep enough space between plants so your garden grows properly. Here is a great chart from The Garden Helper that shows the different crops and the spacing needed. It also lets you know when to plant, which is very helpful.
Many crops come with a plastic marker that says what it is and vital planting information. Stake this into the ground so you know what should be coming up where in the future.
Watch, Water, Weed and Repeat
Be sure to water the plants enough as growing veggies need lots of water. 2-3 times per week should good. Water until the soil is moist but you do not want to soak the plants. Using a light misting head is best as it will not damage your fragile crops. Watch out for leaves that look like they may be getting eaten by animals and/or bugs. Also, keep an eye our for diseased looking plants as well. Don’t forget to weed the garden. Weeds take valuable nutrients away from your veggies so stay on top of weeding so they dont have time to grow deep roots.
Are you planting a vegetable garden this year? If so, what do you intend to plant in your garden? Share pictures of your garden with us on our Facebook page!