How to start growing vegetables in your garden
Before you start…
- An open area with good drainage, plenty of sunlight, and a supply of water
- If you have a patch of ground that receives at least six hours of sun daily and is well away from water- and nutrient-greedy trees and shrubs, you have the makings of a successful vegetable garden. Leafy and root vegetables will grow with even less sun. As you look for a sunny spot, remember that rocky areas can be cleared, and land that has grown only weeds can be cultivated to produce vegetable harvests.
A common question is how large should the vegetable patch be? Its limits should be defined by the amount of time you can devote to it and the number of people it will feed.
Once you’ve chosen a site for your vegetable garden, prepare the soil. Strip off any sod and remove any weeds. To do so, you can work the soil by repeat tilling. To till, use a spade or a spading fork. Consider hiring a teenager or two for this work if your back is prone to injury.
To make sure you have killed any unwanted plants, place clear plastic sheeting over bare soil for three to four weeks. This will kill most pests and weed seeds in the top few inches of soil. After removing the plastic, you can plant your new garden. If possible, avoid using herbicides and pesticides in a vegetable garden.
Some vegetables, including root vegetable like carrots and parsnips, must be sown directly into the ground as seeds. Others can be started in flats or pots and then set in the garden as seedlings.
In spring most garden centres are overflowing with seedling flats (usually small boxes with six or eight plants growing in each) and single pots containing seedlings of a variety of vegetables: broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers. Such commercially grown plants are convenient. They save time and eliminate the often risky effort of starting seeds indoors at home. If you’re buying seeds, you should choose the smallest packet it’s better to buy only as much as you need each year.
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