Preparing Your Own Vegetable Garden Preparing Your Own Vegetable Garden

Gardening is fun, but it's also a lot of work so if you're going to make the effort to grow your own vegetables, you want to make sure your work end ups with a successful harvest.  Achieving a good harvest starts with determining where to locate your garden, how to lay it out and making sure the soil is right for growing great vegetables.

Location is important

  • Try to find a spot that gets lots of sunlight and hopefully is not shaded by trees or buildings. A productive vegetable garden needs at least six hours of sunlight each day for your plants to mature properly and without that much sun, your vegetable yield will be reduced.
  • You also want the soil in your garden to drain well (don't plant in an area that puddles after a rainfall) and while good air movement will help your vegetables grow strong and healthy, planting in a windy area can dry out your plants or even break them.
  • Having a source of water close to your garden will save you the hassle of dragging hoses or watering cans to your plants and if the garden is close to your home, you are more likely to visit on a regular basis.

Consider your garden size and layout

  • You are probably better off having a small garden that's easier to maintain than opting for a large space that's going to be so much work it ends up being neglected and full of weeds.
  • Building a wire mesh fence around your garden will help keep animals away from your vegetables and the fence could serve a dual purpose by providing a trellis for climbing plants such as tomatoes, beans and peas.
  • Run your garden rows in an east-west direction with taller plants planted in the back (north) of the garden. This will ensure all the plants get lots of sunshine and the shorter plants in front won't be shaded by the taller plants in back.

You can never forget the soil

  • The best soil for your vegetable garden is well drained,contains lots of organic material (to help it retain moisture) and is reasonably free of rocks and stones.
  • Adding compost (organic matter) will help make any soil richer and improve it's ability to retain water. A rule of thumb is to add it at the rate of about 3 to 4 pounds for every 1000 square feet of garden.
  • The pH of your garden soil may also need to be adjusted to suit your crops (pH is a measure of soil acidity or alkalinity - a soil with a pH below 7.0 is considered acidic while a pH above 7.0 is considered alkaline). Inexpensive soil test kits are generally available at garden centers and some will even test your soil for you.
  • You adjust the pH by adding solid amendments directly to soil and digging them in (Sawdust, wood chips, composted oak leaves, peat moss and leaf mold will all lower the pH, while bone meal, crushed marble or oyster shells or hardwood ashes will raise it).

Preparing | Fast Growing | Maintaining

Murray Anderson is an experienced freelance writer whose work has appeared on numerous web sites, as well as in newspapers and books in both the US and Canada. He has been quoted as an expert on home related topics in numerous publications including the Wall Street Journal.

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