Each year new people get into vegetable gardening. Success or failure of home vegetable production can depend on many things, but some major reasons for failure are negligence, not following the proper instructions and not keeping up with current vegetable developments.
When planning a garden, it is important to ask a few basic questions:
- Who will be doing the work? Will the garden be a group project with family and friends, or will you be going at it alone. Remember that a small weed-free garden will produce more than a large, weedy mess.
- What do you and your family like to eat? Although the pictures in the garden catalog look delicious, there is no value in taking up gardening space with vegetables that no one eats. Make a list of your family’s favorite vegetables, ranked in order of preference. This will be a useful guide in deciding how much of each vegetable to plant. Successive plantings of certain crops, such as beans, can be harvested over a longer period of time and increase your yield. As you plan, list recommended varieties and planting dates.
- How do you plan to use the produce from your garden? If you plan to can, freeze, dry or store part of the produce, this will be a factor not only in planning the size of the garden, but also in selecting varieties. Some varieties have much better keeping quality than others. Care should be used in choosing the seeds, making sure the varieties you select are adapted to your area and intended use.
- Finally, how much space is available? How much area can be converted into usable garden space, and how much garden do you need? Do not plant more garden than you need.
Additional Planning Hints
- Plan the garden on paper first. Draw a map showing arrangement and spacing of crops. If you wish to keep the garden growing all season, you may need a spring, summer and fall garden plan.
- Plan the garden and order seeds by January or February. Some plants may be started indoors as early as January.
- In your plan, place tall and trellised crops on the north side of the garden so they will not shade the shorter vegetables.
- Group plants by length of growing period. Plant spring crops together so that later crops can be planted in these areas after the early crops mature. Consider length of harvest as well as time to maturity. Place perennial crops to the side of the garden where they will not be disturbed by annual tillage. Finally, practice crop rotation. Try not to plant the same vegetable or a related vegetable in the same location year after year.
Submitted by Ray Tackett, Agent for Horticulture, Bourbon Co. Cooperative Extension