21 September 2008

Frugal Gardener: Getting Started

For those in the Southern Hemisphere, it's gardening time! Make a plan!

For you northerners, check out what Rosie Lerner at Purdue University has to say about preparing your garden for winter.

Here are a few tips to get you started for a productive garden:

To select your vegetable garden plot, consider what vegetables need to thrive. Vegetables and fruits need 6-8 hours of sunlight daily. The vegetable garden plot should be well-drained and convenient to water (vegetables require 1 inch of water weekly or 75 gallons per 100 square feet).

Once you have selected the garden location, draw a plan (to scale) of the area you are planning to place your garden. Make allowances for paths, borders, etc. Next, take inventory of your likes and dislikes in vegetables. Put down on paper every vegetable you wish to grow. Then go back to your plan and mark out a definite space or number of rows for the different vegetables. Looking at seed packets to determine plant spacing is helpful. Select early, midseason and late sorts of these vegetables. This will give you a constant supply of vegetables throughout the growing season. When you start to garden, be sure to follow your plan. To ignore your carefully planned garden may lead to your garden failing to yield satisfactory crops.

Study the peculiar characteristics of certain vegetables and utilize them to best advantage. Some vegetables thrive even in partially shaded positions, while others require lots of sunshine for best results.

Adding 2-3 inches of old manure and compost (or well-rotted leaves, peat moss) to your soil in early spring prior to preparing the soil will not only improve drainage, but also make it fertile. If soil is undesirable, consider raised beds. If space is an issue, try container gardening and window boxes. You could plant vegetables amongst flower beds or bushes. I have edible flowers and herbs in all of the flower beds in the front of my house.

Soil that is loamy, well drained, and high in organic matter is ideal for your vegetable garden.

. . . Read more on Chef Kendra's Gardening 101. She'll tell you about purchasing plants, staking them for maximum yield, and mulches.

There is also a compatibility chart for companion planting. That is compatibility of plants, not those working in the garden with you.

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