A summer vegetable garden, where crops are planted in spring and harvested during the summer and early fall, is the most popular choice.
Anyone planning a vegetable garden knows that what you do before summer can have a big effect on how your garden grows. There are many things you can do now to ensure your vegetable gardening this summer is productive. Try these tips and watch your garden prosper.
Vegetable gardening this summer, what you should do before spring
If you haven't already done so, now is the perfect time to till your garden spot. Determine how large you want the garden to be and mark it off. Run the tiller in the garden to incorporate plant matter from the last year.
You may also want to test your soil to see if it has the proper nutrients needed for a vegetable garden. Soil tests can be purchased from most plant nurseries or other stores which sell gardening supplies. Local colleges may provide testing free of charge if they have degrees related to farming.
Plan what you'll plant. You may already know what vegetables you want to grow but chances are you'll change your mind at least once before the plants are in the ground. Think about the vegetables your family loves the most. Corn, tomatoes, green beans, cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower are common plants in a family vegetable garden.
Consider whether you'll start seeds or purchase the plants partially grown. Of course, there's nothing quite like watching seedlings as they sprout and grow, but buying pre-grown seedlings makes getting the plants in the garden much quicker. Which plants can you start from seed and which ones will you purchase?
Once you know what you'll plant, think about where you'll place each one. Some plants are best planted close to others. These are called companion plants. They may either provide natural pest resistance or nutrients the other plant needs. Take time to research which plants can benefit the others in your garden.
Determine how you're going to deal with weeds in your garden. Will you rely solely upon chemicals to avoid having to weed, or is there another method you can use? Consider using newspaper covered by black landscaping fabric or black plastic sheeting between rows. This will greatly reduce the amount of weeding you'll have to do. You can also use the black landscaping fabric in the rows themselves by cutting an outing where the plants will go. This fabric allows the rain to get through and yet blocks much of the sunlight so the weeds can't grow.
What will you do about pests? Some gardeners are content to use chemical pesticides. If you're considering a "greener" approach, you may want to add beneficial insects to your garden. These would include ladybugs, praying mantis and earthworms.
Don't forget to check your garden tools. Give your tiller and other mechanical equipment a spring-time tune-up. Ensure your rakes, hoes and other hand tools don't have loose handles. You'll also want to ensure they aren't rusty.
Think about other items you may need for your vegetable garden this year. Do you have a large-brimmed hat to keep the sun off your face and neck? What about something to sit or kneel on while you're planting? Do you have a place to sit back and enjoy your garden after the work is done?
There's so much involved in planting a summer garden you'll want to get started as soon as you can. You can check your tools to ensure they're in good working order, plan your garden and start your seeds. A vegetable garden takes time but it is very rewarding and before you know it, the time will be here to begin your garden in earnest and you can look forward to summer with home-grown vegetables.