Start a home vegetable garden now (Google / The Town Talk)

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http://www.thetowntalk.com/article/20090316/LIFESTYLE/903140329

Start a home vegetable garden now

Get it Growing

Visions of delicious home-grown vegetables can become a reality with a little planning and some work. As the economy slows, home vegetable gardening is becoming more popular — something we have seen in past economic downturns. The following information is particularly important for new gardeners just getting started.

The planning part involves such considerations as where to place the garden and what to plant. The working part involves preparing the soil, fertilizing, planting, mulching and, my favorite part, harvesting.

The site selection is very critical to the success of your vegetable garden. The site should receive a minimum of six hours of direct sunlight every day. Full or all-day sunlight is preferable. Vegetable plants that don’t receive sufficient light will not be as productive.

The site must also be well-drained. Low-lying areas that hold water after a rain are not suitable. To improve drainage even more, we typically plant vegetables in raised rows or raised beds.

Plan what to plant

Plan to grow what you and your family like to eat. While deciding what to grow, also consider how much you want to plant and the room the crops will need. You’ll get better at this with experience. Be careful here. One of the most common mistakes is to create a garden that is too large. Start modestly until you see how much work is involved — then expand later.

The real work begins with soil preparation. Clear the site of all weeds or grass. This can be done by physically removing the unwanted vegetation or by spraying with a herbicide with the active ingredient glyphosate. When the weeds have been removed or are dead, turn the soil with a shovel or tiller to a depth of 8 inches.

Next, add a generous amount of organic matter. Don’t scrimp on this! Compost is likely the best choice, but you can use aged manure, partially decayed leaves or peat moss. Spread a 2- to 4-inch layer of organic matter over the tilled area. Fertilizer can be added on top of the organic matter. Apply a general-purpose fertilizer following package directions for rates.

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Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.