From red vine ripe tomatoes to silky butternut squash, any vegetable you’ve brought to life with your own two hands has a special feel when placed on the dinner table. Now that spring is here and the frost has gone, it’s the perfect time to begin planning a vegetable garden for your home. Despite some of the clichés, gardening is definitely not just for women. In fact, there are not many things more manly than toiling away at the soil with shovel and rake just like our ancestors did before us. And beyond the perks of a project that allows you to spend your time outdoors, gardening gives you a chance to include the kids, turning it into a family affair. You’ll be able to teach them the valuable skill of living off of the land, and then join them in enjoying the fruits of your labor when harvest time rolls around.
- Tis the Season: The first step to planning any vegetable garden is figuring out what kind of plants you want to stick in the ground. As many of us have forgotten, not all vegetables can be grown at all times, and planting things in the right season is crucial if you want them to survive until the harvest. By determining your Hardiness Zone, you can then decide what vegetables work best for you and develop a planting schedule that matches the suggested time frames to make sure your first round of veggies is a successful one.
- The Right Real Estate: Once you’ve decided what you want to plant, the next step is figuring out where to plant it. Sunshine is the key factor in plant growth and so areas that see a lot of shade need to be scratched off the list. Five hours a day is the minimum amount of sunlight for a healthy garden, and the space also needs to be clear of competing roots—meaning at least ten feet away from the drip line of tall trees. Also, unless you want to give yourself an extra load of work by terracing your garden, seek out a spot where the beds can rest comfortably on flat land. When it comes to healthy crops, plants with crooked stalks are not going to be your friends.
- More Than Just Dirt: Having good soil in your garden is essential for all plants to grow. More than just a patch of dirt, good soil needs to be full of organic matter, easily drainable, and free of rocks and shale that will disrupt the spread of roots. Picking a spot in a good location is the best place to start because issues such as a lack of organic matter can be fixed with additions like organic fertilizer. Once you’ve picked out your plot of land, the only big step left to secure the space is to make sure your precious soil is at an acceptable PH level.
- Time to Plant: When it comes to the planting of the vegetables, some people choose to be brave and do the sowing themselves. It’s not astrophysics, but sowing can be a tricky process, and for the casual gardener, buying seedlings might be a more logical route as you can plant them straight into the ground. Start by drawing out a planting map so you can visualize the arrangement before you break ground. Next, dig a hole for each seedling about an inch wider than the plant’s container and then dunk each potted plant into water to soak the soil before taking the container off. Once the container has been removed, untangle any roots on the underside of the soil cluster and drop the plant into its personalized hole. Add to that a bit of fresh water, a tidy pat down with some fresh soil, and your brand new backyard vegetable garden is ready to go.
Always remember that a well maintained garden means bigger and better vegetables on the table after the harvest.
TIP: Apply WD-40® Multi-Use Product to the metal face of trowels and shovels to keep mud and dirt from sticking.