The best advice I can give to someone planning their first vegetable garden is “start small”. Even a modest planting can produce a larger crop than one family can possibly consume. If you plant a few vegetables the first year, you can increase your planting the following year based on your consumption and growing success.
Your ultimate success will hinge on proper soil preparation, sunshine and water. This is truer of vegetables than any other form of gardening. The results of your “ground work” will make it all the way to your table. Many vegetables are heavy feeders, so the soil has to be nutrient-rich from the outset with plenty of organic matter. Before planting, the entire vegetable garden should be covered with at least 3cm (1”) of finished compost.
Turn this layer of compost under with a spade, or let the earthworms do it for you (which will take up to 6 weeks). If you have poor soil, I recommend that you create a raised bed by mounding Mark’s Choice Vegetable Garden Mix 30 to 40 cm (12 to 16”) higher than grade to achieve good fertility and excellent drainage.
The second most important piece of advice that I can give is to locate your veggie garden in as much sun as possible. Except for leaf lettuce and spinach, your vegetables require as much sun as you can give them. Most vegetables and herbs need no fewer than six hours of sunlight a day. If possible, plant your vegetables in a south or west-facing location.
If you have enough room to plant your vegetables in rows, orient them north and south, and plant the tallest vegetables at the east end with plant heights decreasing toward the west end. This way, the tall plants will not shade the shorter plants later in the day as the sun moves from east to west.
Water your new planting deeply, and as the plants become established gradually pull back on the frequency of watering. Be sure to allow the soil to dry about 3 to 5 cm. deep between water applications after the plants have become established.
Now that I’ve got you busy planning your vegetable garden, I will get busy planning my next two blog articles: Planting Your Vegetable Garden and Harvesting your Vegetable Garden. Stay tuned!