A big part of your vegetable gardening planning is determining the amount of garden space available for planting. If you have very limited space, you can make use of raised beds, trellises, and pots to maximize whatever space you have in your backyard.
Remember, you don’t need a large space to grow a vegetable garden. If you make the choice to plant vegetables using containers of all shapes and sizes, you don’t really need a yard.
Determining the perfect spot is important for the following reasons. Keep in mind that regardless of the size of your garden, big or small, vegetable gardening requires three things to succeed – sunlight, water, and healthy soil.
Plants Need Time And Sunlight To Grow
Vegetables we grow here in Canada or Northern USA require a minimum of six hours of direct sun each day, meaning it’s necessary to pick just the right spot in your yard.
Your vegetable garden is going to require watering and lots of it if you’re in a drier location, so if you can be sure to place it close to a water source so you don’t have to carry water or buy a really long garden hose as we’ve done.
Even though your veggies may require lots of water you don’t want them standing in water so be sure you’re little garden or containers drain well after each watering. I like to use a combination of topsoil, peat moss and rich organic compost to keep my soil draining well.
How To Tell If Your Soil Drains Well
Before you start digging, it is recommended that you first test the soil. Try checking the drainage by soaking the soil with a hose, waiting 24 hours, and then digging up a handful of soil.
Squeeze the soil into a ball in your hand and squeeze hard to see how much, if any, water comes out of the soil.
If water starts running out of the dirt you should add some peat moss to loosen the soil and maybe a bit more organic matter such as compost to help drainage. Then give it the water test one more time to see if you have it draining well.
\When you open your hand the dirt ball should not fall apart as this could mean it’s too sandy but it should also not clump together and needs to break up easily or it may have too much clay like our soil has. It should really break apart into smaller clumps when you give it a poke while in your hand.
Veggies Need To Be Fed While Growing
When it comes to caring and feeding, remember that most vegetables love getting a constant supply of moisture, but not too much that they are already swimming in water.
In general, about an inch of water every day would suffice. But, of course, determine if your plant requires more so you can provide maximum hydration to your plant.
For optimum nutrition, use organic fertilizers as directed. Don’t apply more than what’s recommended as this can negatively affect your overall yield. We like to use some Miracle Grow to help the roots become strong so they can provide nutrients to the plant and veggies.
When it comes to stopping pests, keep in mind that pests such as insects, deer, rabbits, rats, etc. will each have its own specific solution. If you have animals destroying your vegetable crops, be sure to know the best available solution to address the problem, preferably by consulting agricultural experts.
For the bigger garden pests, like those with four legs can be deterred by putting a fence around your little garden patch. You may want to bury the fence below ground level to deter those digging pests like the ever hungry groundhogs.
I’ve found that it’s best to ask your local nursery workers what to use for each garden pest which should include methods that don’t poison you or your pets or even the good pests like ladybugs.
To protect our strawberries and raspberries we use a mesh net or blanket to cover them while they are producing. This way Jenny and I tend to get more than the birds do.
Be sure you secure them so birds can’t get under them and when you’re done with them be certain to put them in a safe place where birds won’t get tangled in them. I had a sparrow get into one while I was doing something else and had to cut him free.
So glad I heard him crying and freed him as it would have sucked to find it dead later on. Now I put the mesh nets away as soon as I take them off any plants they are protecting and get them back into the garage and away from small animals.
The Fruits of Your Labour
Now after all the studying and work you put into producing your vegetable be sure to harvest them at the right time.And lastly, don’t hesitate to harvest the fruit of your labour.
You can harvest some of your fruits and vegetables at several stages. You don’t necessarily have to wait until they’re fully mature because you can choose to pick them while they’re young. Tomatoes, for example, can be plucked even if they’re not yet fully red.
At the time of this writing our strawberries are done for the season and our raspberries have just started. For my strawberries and raspberries I do wait until just the right moment to pick them so I get the perfect berry for breakfasts and desserts.
Now I’m hungry for my breakfast so I am going outside to pick a handful of raspberries. So glad my wife Jenny doesn’t care for the seeds in raspberries and that my son is out on his own now because I get to eat them all by myself.
Vegetable gardening planning can be quite a task at the beginning. But, with experience, you’ll find that planting veggies is as easy as eating it. Okay maybe not quite that easy but so worth when you finally eat the results of your labour. A good place to start is with the Vegetable Gardening For Dummies book.