Getting your vegetables from the supermarket is all well and good, but grocery store veggies never seem to taste as good as the ones grown in your own backyard. Even a small garden space in your yard can yield big results.
The first question you have to ask yourself when planning a vegetable garden is what to grow. If you’re just starting out, you may want to start small so you can stay on top of things with minimal investment and effort. Take a look at your family and think about what they like to eat. Maybe you’ll want to can or give away some of the vegetables.
Some vegetables produce regularly throughout the season, like tomatoes, peppers and squash. You may not need very many of these. Other vegetables—like carrots, radishes, and corn—produce only once, so you may need more of these.
As we mentioned, a large space isn’t needed to get started. You can even grow in containers or pots on an apartment balcony. Local farmer’s markets can tell you what plants grow best in your area, but consider some combination of the following plants as you seek to fill your garden: tomatoes, zucchini squash, peppers, carrots, strawberries, or even herbs.
Now comes the part where you pick the right spot for your vegetable garden. There are a few things every garden needs:
• Full sun. Your vegetables will need between 6 and 8 hours of sunlight. If they don’t get that much, they won’t bear as much and will be susceptible to insects or diseases. If you don’t have a spot with full access to sun, you can still plant leafy veggies like lettuce and spinach.
• Water. The closer your garden is to a source of water, the better. Vegetables need at least an inch of water per week, and this is best accomplished with drip watering which conserves water and prevents funguses from developing on the leaves.
• Good soil. Veggies need good, loamy, well-drained soil with lots of organic matter, like compost or peat moss.
Try to avoid planting close to a tree, which will steal nutrients and cast the garden into shade. You also have the option of choosing a raised bed, which is beneficial if you have poor soil or a bad back.
You now know the basics of planning a garden. If you’re willing to put in the work necessary to maintain your garden, you’ll have plenty of fresh vegetables to eat.