Planting a vegetable garden is not hard and can be rewarding, therapeutic, healthy and reduce your food budget. Unfortunately, without careful planning, preparation, and maintenance with proper follow through, your garden may perform poorly leaving you disappointed.
Planning the Garden- Choosing a location for your garden is an important step in the garden planning process. Vegetables need at least 6-8 hours of sunlight for best growth. Choose a location as far away as possible from trees and shrubs. They rob your vegetables of needed nutrients and water.
What To Grow-Don't go overboard with your seed selection or you may be the gardener in your neighborhood trying to give away zucchini. Plant what your family will eat. There are many variables to consider what and where to plant in your garden. How much do you really need? Are you going to freeze or can the vegetable or just have them for fresh use. Many springtime crops can be planted a second time for a fall harvest. Some are perennials and need to be left in the ground such as rhubarb or asparagus. Learning a few basics about the varieties you are interested in can save you a headache after you have already planted and finding out there is not enough room.
Draw a Plan- The winter months are a great time for you to start to plan your garden. Make a map of your garden area. It doesn't have to be a fancy diagram. Your entire garden does not need to be in just one location. Now days many people incorporate flowers, herbs and vegetables, or plant in pots on the patios. Plan for room to grow while using all the space in your garden. Through planting techniques like vertical cropping, succession planting and intercropping, you can make maximum use of the space you have. Vertical cropping is training veggies such as pole beans, peas, cucumbers, squash and gourds to some type of support to save space in the garden. Existing fences, poles, wire cages, trellises can be used for support. Succession planting technique involves growing a crop like lettuce in the spring and replacing it when the warm weather with a crop such as beans. In the late summer, you can reverse the process and replace the beans with a cool season crop like peas, radishes or the lettuce again. Succession planting is also an effective way to plant that will give you a steady supply of vegetables over a longer season. Most people plant their garden - a row of one vegetable, another row of a second one and so on. Instead of a single row of each vegetable, consider splitting a single row into multiple vegetables. So one row might have 3 or 4 sections, each with its own seeds planted. Then two weeks later, plant the same group in the second row. Two weeks later, do it again in the third row. This way, each row will be ready to harvest two weeks after the previous one, giving you a fresh supply for longer, and keeping you from having to find ways to get rid of all the extras. Intercropping technique involves planting cold weather vegetables that will be harvested earlier and planting them in-between warm season vegetables. You will harvest the cool season vegetable, while the warm season are still small then giving them the room to grow.
Soil Preparation and Fertilization.
Before you can plant, soil preparation is a must! If you are planting a raised box with Miller’s Raised Box Mix tm; perfect, it is all done for you. However; if you decide to go with soil it needs to be improved. Soil can significantly influence how vegetables grow and produce. So many people think that this is a step that is okay to overlook or it is saving them money, far from it. A successful garden will never be achieved if this step is not taken. Regardless of having sandy or clay soil the way to improve the structure is with compost. It will increase water and nutrient holding capabilities while aiding in drainage and aeration. These factors all increase the health of the plant, which in turn produces higher yields and healthy plants. Add 2" to 3" and till into the soil 6" to 8" in depth. Doing this at least a few weeks before planting or in the fall are the best times. Never work your soil when it is wet. Tilling or digging when the soil is wet will cause it to dry into concrete-like clods. Miller’s Fertimulch Poultry Compost is great for loosening heavy clay soils. If you have a sandy soil try Miller’s Premium Organic Compost tm. Miller’s Vegetable Booster tm is perfect for those who have achieved fairly good soil but a boost is needed. All of these composts have been properly formulated to add life and nutrients back into depleted soils, while adding in plenty of organic matter. Vegetables love organic matter.
Planting- The old saying that "patience is a virtue"applies to gardeners who get the itch to garden when temperatures warm up in the spring.Very hardy vegetables can be planted four to six weeks before the frost-free date in the spring. Frost tolerant vegetables can be planted two to three weeks before the frost- free date. Tender vegetables can be planted on or after the frost-free date. Warm-loving vegetables can be planted one to two weeks after the frost-free date. Warm loving vegetables need warm temperatures and warm soil before planting. When planting don’t forget to use Miller’s A to Z Plant food tm. This all natural and organic high vitamin pack has over 70 nutrients and minerals, soil conditioners, root stimulators and NPK. It promotes healthy plants reducing the use of pesticides. Also Miller Gro Compost Tea works well with Miller’s A to Z. Miller Gro Compost Tea has the ability to detox soil and problems in the plants, while also aiding in nutritional healthy food for us. Both of these products are all organic, increases yields and improve the absorption of natural vitamins and nutrients into the vegetable and fruits making them more sweet and packing higher nutrient values for your family.
Seeds- Purchasing new viable seed each year is recommended. Choose varieties that have disease tolerance and
that perform well in your area. Cheap seed you find may be just that. If you have
old seed you can test them to see how the germination rate is. Wet a paper towel and place 10 seeds in a row about an inch from the edge. Roll the paper towel up from the opposite side and put the
towel in a
warm area like the top of the refrigerator. Mist the towel to keep it moist. After 10 to 14 days, unroll the towel and check the number of seeds that have germinated. If less than half have germinated, there is a 50% chance of little growing. Discard and purchase new seed. a minimum of 70% germination rate is recommended.
Maintenance- Maintaining the garden is critical. One year it may be insects and disease and the next year it may be a drought. Gardening does require work, but by learning a few basic skills and techniques, you can make your vegetable gardening experience a pleasant one.
Crop Rotation- Planting the same vegetable in the same spot year after year can encourage soil borne disease, and increase insect populations. It can be difficult to rotate crops in a small area. Though amending the soil will help to reduce these problems, crop rotation should be practice to some degree.
Weeds- Clear the ground before you plant. Put some extra time into clearing the soil of any perennial weeds. Make sure you get as much of the root as possible - not just the part that's visible. Don't disturb the soil during routine care. Cultivating the soil in your garden can bring weed seeds up to the surface where they can sprout and damage roots.It also kills of the important organisms living in your soil Try to keep the soil disturbance to a minimum. Remove weeds by hand pulling while they are young.
Disease and Insects – When soil preparation is done and proper planting and nutrition added fighting pests are much easier to control. However; cultural practices are also important. Some crops are more capable of fighting pests than others. By rotating your crops around your garden from one year to the next, it's less likely that pests will build up in one part of it. Miller Gro Compost Tea should be used to keep disease and insects at bay so the use of a chemical will not even be warranted. Chemicals to control pests should only be used as a last resort.
Mulch- Covering the soil with mulch is highly beneficial to vegetables. Mulching conserves water, reduces weeds, keeps pathogens from splashing on the leaves, controls soil temperature, protects roots, and can be mixed with the soil to amend it. Use fine bark products. Compost with manures should be tilled into the soil and not be used as mulches. They can burn plants when temperatures get warm. Use Miller's Soil Prep, or our Mini Bark. Mulch should be two to three inches deep. When mulching do not pile the mulch up against the stalks. Leave it a 1” or so away.
Watering- Proper irrigation practices depend on the type of vegetable being grown. Good deep, slow applications of water encouraging deep roots. Over watering can be dangerous. Roots need to breathe. Rotting of roots, plants or fruits can be common if the plant cannot receive oxygen. Letting the plant stress from drought then giving too much water is also a bad practice. There is not a magic answer to how many times a week you will water. That all depends on the weather, your soil and the growth stage of the vegetable. Moisture stress is a common culprit of many problems that effect vegetables. Adequate balances of moisture with a maintained schedule are essential.
Clean up Debris- Cleaning up old leaves, fruits and vegetables can reduce the infestation of pests. Piles of debris left around the landscape can harbor over wintering pests.
Keep a Garden Journal
Keep a journal of your activities in the garden. Keep a list of the varieties of vegetables grown. Record seeding and planting dates, insect and disease problems, weather and harvest dates and yields. Even your failures, but most of all YOUR successes. This information will be valuable as you plan future gardens.
We want you to succeed and have
plenty of healthy vegetables for your
own use and maybe help those in need if you have abundance.
Fact sheet produced for Miller Companies LC. Hyrum, Utah. All rights reserved.
Miller Companies LC. Hyrum, UT 435-245-3157