Monday, May 21, 2012

Planting a Vegetable Garden

My vegetable starts mostly survived the 4.5 hour car ride from Bellingham to Portland. There were a few causalities, but I think we have recovered. Here are my tips for planting a vegetable garden:

1. Feed your soil. See how I prepared my raised beds for planting here.

2. Prioritize. How much space do you have to plant in? What do you like to eat the most of? Will your crop be ready all at once, or will you be able to harvest and eat all season? These questions should guide you in planning your vegetable garden. If you have limited space, plant what you know you will eat, and buy less starts than you think you will need– they go a long way once separated. One flat of vegetable starts was enough for me to plant two raised beds.

3. Separate vegetable starts. They often come in packs of four or six, so you will want to separate them out so you can space them and give them room to grow.

4. Space out vegetable starts appropriately. Think about how big each plant will become, and make sure you give it enough room to grow. The starts are so tiny that sometimes it can seem like you are giving them a ridiculous amount of room, but it's easy to crowd them by planting too close together. After you separate your starts, lay them out in rows before planting to make sure you get the spacing just right.

5. Plant with care. Dig a whole deep enough for the roots, gently tuck the start into the ground, and pack the soil lightly over the roots and around the base of the plant. I also like to stick the tag into the ground so that I remember what's what and I can look back later in the season to see what I liked and what worked (or what didn't).

Lettuce, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, and my leeks from last fall. 
Pickling cucumbers, delicata squash, and zucchini.
6. Water! Your new vegetable garden will likely need lots of water at first, as the soil is probably quite dried out. The starts, however, are delicate, so be careful with the water pressure. Check on your garden every day to see if it needs more water. It is best to water in the morning, before the sun is too high. If you water while the sun is hot, the water will evaporate instead of soaking in to the soil where the roots can find it. If you water in the evening, you risk the plants going to sleep with wet foliage, and if it really cools down at night, this can be dangerous.

7. Sit back and watch your garden grow. Pay attention to what your garden needs, and start harvesting as vegetables mature. If you harvest properly (taking a little here and there), your garden will continue to produce veggies for you all season.

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