Vegetable Planting Guide

Perhaps somewhere in the world, the key to successful gardening is simply dropping seeds into the ground and watching them spring forth. But most garden soils require careful attention and preparation.

Choosing a Plot Here's all you need to know about starting your first home vegetable garden. Regardless of where one lives, growing conditions are bound to be different from the conditions described in most Gardening books. This vegetable planting guide can help you, but your self ask some questions. Which vegetables grow well in this area? What soil types are common? Are there unique conditions in the Garden to consider, for example, high winds, compacted soils, poor drainage and wet spots? Finally, what are the first and last frost dates and the growing season? Later as skills develop add more difficult Crops such as small fruits and perennial vegetables, and add more area to the Garden's size. When selecting plants of a first garden, keep in mind several suggestions.

So before I even get started the garden is already divided into four equal quadrants that are easy to identify and keep separated. When planning the layout of the vegetable beds there are four main considerations that I keep in mind to guide my planting and growing strategy. If you plant a particular crop or family of related crops in one raised bed the previous year, it goes in a different area or garden bed the next time around. A very important consideration when planning your vegetable garden is to think about the size, height, and growth habit of the crops and to plant according to these characteristics. Getting this right will enable you to employ succession planting techniques to grow two or three separate harvests in the same space that many gardeners grow a single vegetable crop. When the bulbs are harvested in mid summer the bed can then be used to plant fall crops such as kale, mustard greens, cabbage, broccoli, and other cool weather vegetables and planning ahead the same area can be used to grow tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants can be replanted with your crop of fall garlic. In September after the tomatoes have slowed production, pull the vines, add a layer of compost to the bed and use the area to plant garlic to over-winter, or sow transplants of other fall and winter vegetables.

There are many unique vegetable varieties available that are not only tasty, but can also add an ornamental flavor to the vegetable garden with their unusual shapes, textures, and colors. Vegetable planting guide want to you consider a few thoughts when planning what will be grown in the vegetable garden. Growing from seed gardeners should consider whether they are willing and able to grow any of their plants from seed under fluorescent lights. In cooler climates, starting seeds indoors helps to extend the growing season and provides the gardener with more control over what specific varieties of tomatoes, peppers, beans and other vegetables will be cultivated. When planning the vegetable garden, decide which plants will be grown from seed, and which plants will be purchased as seedlings.

Gardeners who grow vegetables may also enjoy growing fruit in the garden. Planting a fruit tree such as apple, pear or cherry is also a satisfying addition to the vegetable garden. Gardeners tend to neglect the plants they don’t like to eat. To avoid being wasteful, gardeners should grow only those edible plants that are regularly eaten in their household. Although most vegetable plants grow in varying shades of green, some heirloom vegetables grow in a wide variety of colors. Incorporating edible flowers such as nasturtiums or violas also adds a touch of color to the vegetable garden. When planning a garden the next seasons vegetable patch, gardeners will also need to consider the time and energy they have available to spend working to maintain the garden, as well as any storage space required once the baskets of fruit and vegetables begin to be harvested.

Sunlight full sun is the preferred exposure for growing most vegetables. Install your beds away from trees or other objects that could shade the garden. Remember that trees are plants too and locating garden beds too close to tree roots will place your vegetables in competition with trees for water and nutrients. Windbreaks trees, fences, walls, even hedges can be used to protect young plants, as long as they are far enough away from your garden not to cause shade or competition problems. The size of your garden depends on the vegetable needs and wants of you and your family, what land is available to you, water requirements, and how hard your want to work at it. Many people enthusiastically plant gardens larger than their needs and their abilities to care for them, and then realize, late into the season, that their vegetable garden has just gotten away from them.

Spinach, radishes, leaf lettuce and other like vegetables need relatively little space. There are new bush varieties that are constantly being developed for these types of plants that can be used in small gardens. Placement if you are planting corn in your garden, plant it on the north side, so it wont shade other plants as it grows taller. Map your garden when your deciding what goes where, so next year, you can rotate some crops. Successful garden all deepens on you and your planning so get started on your new garden. Soil testing, get acquainted with the soil in the plot. A soil test will reveal fertilizer needs and composition of soil. Soil testing is available for a nominal fee through area extension services and some private testing labs. Soil testing for home gardens is recommended every three to five years.

Soil tests determine the pH, salt concentration and level of nutrients. On a scale with a pH of seven being neutral, many vegetables will grow quite well from 6.0 to 8.4. With the analysis, the lab or extension service will provide information on needed soil improvements. Topsoil Although crops prefer a perfect soil, most will adapt and grow satisfactorily in a wide range of soil conditions from sand to clay provided they are handled correctly. Avoid the temptation to haul in topsoil to improve on what is already there. It is almost always better to work with existing soil than to haul in topsoil. There are no legal definitions for topsoil, so providers can sell soil of nearly any composition and call it topsoil.

Hauled in soil may not be any better than the existing soil in the garden plot. It could be a source of noxious weeds with a less than favorable pH or of worse texture than what is there. When fill is needed to raise the level of the yard or to fill in a coarse gravel bed, soil must be hauled in. Be aware that it may or may not improve the area where it is placed. Soil Texture The minerals in soil are tiny particles of weathered rock. Texture refers to how the relative sizes of the particle structure deal with their arrangement. Most soils contain varying sizes of minerals. The relative amounts of sand silt and clay determine the type of soil in your garden. Soil scientists use a soil triangle to illustrate the relative proportions and resulting soil structure. Very large soil particles are sand, medium sized particles are silt and fine particles are clay. The different sizes of the particles do not mesh tightly, allowing for tiny pores between them that allow the water, nutrients and air to move through the soil to the roots. An even mixture of the three makes the best garden soil.

Since most soils are not an even mixture, compensate for the parts that keep the garden from producing as it should. Knowing what type of soil is in the garden makes planning and cultivation easier. Sandy soil, which warms early in the spring and allows water to drain freely, is less likely to compact than other types. However, it does not hold water well. Clay soil, composed of tiny particles that cling together readily holds moisture and locks air out. Typically it feels heavier than sandy soils because it holds water so well. Roots do not develop as well in clay soils because they have to penetrate the dense material and because they have difficulty getting enough oxygen for optimum growth. Loam soils contain somewhat equal proportions of sand, silt and clay. Loam soils hold moisture and nutrients around the root zone, and drain well enough to deliver needed oxygen to the roots. Between the three basic types of soil, very light sand, heavy clay, and loam are other variations – sandy loam, loamy clay, etc. To determine the type of soil in a garden plot, test it by turning over a shovel full of soil and squeeze it together. If it does not stick together well, the soil is probably sandy, if it forms a sticky ball that does not easily come apart, the soil is clay. Soil that forms a ball, crumbles easily and is not particularly sticky is considered loam.

Optimum plant growth occurs in soils that hold water and nutrients around roots, yet drains well enough to allow oxygen into the area. It should also offer support for plants. Always correct soil imbalances before planting. Tilling The effects of watering, settling, and pressure eventually compact the mineral particles in the soil, inhibiting water movement to various degrees. Soil must be loosened to allow air circulation to the roots. Plant roots require oxygen to function properly. Small air holes in loose soil allow efficient water drainage and the introduction and circulation of needed oxygen. Till, fork, or spade soil about eight inches deep to soften it and break up large clods.

It is not necessary to over-prepare the soil – marble sized particles can be smoothed away with a rake. Many gardeners damage soil by rushing to prepare it before it is dry enough. Test to see if the soil is dry enough to work. Take a handful from about three to four inches beneath the surface, and compress it into a ball. Toss it up and down in your hand or drop it on a hard surface. If the ball shatters, the soil can be worked. If it does not shatter, do not try to rototill. Till as deeply as possible to break up the soil beneath. If a garden is tilled to the same depth each year, a hardpan layer may develop just below the usual tilling depth. Hardpan forms an impermeable “floor” where water accumulates and cannot soak through. Plants do not grow well unless this layer is penetrated and broken up. I hope you enjoy this information on vegetable planting guide.

Organic Matter

Soils should contain five percent organic material. Nearly all soils, whether clay, sandy or humus, benefit from the addition of organic matter. Spread a layer of organic matter two to three inches thick over the soil surface and incorporate it six to eight inches deep. Organic matter breaks up clay allowing for air and water circulation, and helps hold water in sandy soils. Good sources of organic matter include straw, twigs, leaves, peat moss, sawdust, grass clippings and well-rotted manure.

In sandy soil, almost any type of organic matter will improve its structure and water-holding capability. Use coarse organic matter like sawdust or leaves to lighten clay soils. Peat moss is not a good additive to clay soils because peat moss has great water-holding capabilities just as the clay does. Together they hold too much water.

It may take several years of applying organic matter to significantly improve clay soil, but it is well worth the effort. Be careful in adding sand to clay soil – sand and clay mixed with water form a low grade concrete! The process involves extra work and expense and should only be attempted if adding bounteous organic matter and if organic matter, which breaks down will be added yearly.

Organic matter ties up nitrogen as it decays. Add nitrogen fertilizer to the organic matter to aid in the decomposition process. This addition of nitrogen is not intended to aid future plant growth, but to act as a facilitator to help in decomposition. More fertilizer will be needed when planting. Use one pound (one pint) of ammonium sulfate, or 2/3 pound of ammonium nitrate, or 1/2 pound of urea for each inch of organic matter placed on one hundred square feet of soil.

Manures vary in quality. If mixed with large amounts of bedding materials, there may not be enough nitrogen to decompose it and feed the crop. When using well-rotted manure for organic matter, reduce the fertilizer rate by 1/2.

Soil Amendments

Many areas of the country have acidic soils. If it is determined that your soil is acidic, add lime, gypsum or dolomite to loosen the soil and reduce acidity.

Gypsum is neutral and will not acidify alkaline soils, although it is sometimes promoted as an "alkali fighter." It can be used in areas of very high sodium soils known as "black alkali" areas where crops grow poorly, if at all.

Little can be done to neutralize alkaline soil, but adding iron sulfate or ground sulfur will help. Iron sulfate alters the pH more quickly than sulfur, but it also breaks down more quickly. Ground sulfur will stay in the soil for years.

Another good way to lower the pH slightly is to add an organic matter such as peat moss, wood chips, leaf mold, or sawdust.
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About Peter Paul

Welcome to I've spent my career helping people upgrade their homes and improve their lives. I learned first hand about home renovation from my father, who hand-built our family home.
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