Want to grow your own veggies? That's great! Before you start seeding your peppers and broccoli, you need to first consider the most important part, which is where to site your garden. This point cannot be overemphasized because a garden that is located poorly could lead to a less than successful outcome when growing your own food.
The 3 most important things to consider when choosing your site are:
1.Choose a sunny location. Your intended garden will need to receive a minimu of 6 hours of sun each day. This is crucial as most veggies need this amount of sun to produce.There are only a few leafy veggies , such as lettuces that can tolerate a bit of shade. Some people feel that it is best to site the garden so that the rows run north / south for better reception of sunlight throughout the day, but that is a lesser important consideration than actually finding a site that will receive the minimum 6 hours.
2.The site must be well drained. You do not want to plant veggies in an area where water may pool / pond, near downspouts. Ideally the soil will be of loamy texture with adequate organic matter content. As a beginning gardener, you may not be able to tell if the soil is of good quality, but if you try to dig into it and it is as hard as a rock, then that means there is considerable compaction, which is undesirable , especially for root veggies such as beets, radishes, carrots to develop. If the site is really sandy , you should consider adding composted manure, or mushroom compost to bring up organic matter levels and this helps to improve the soil's ability to hold water. If you have a location that is somewhere in between these two descriptions then that should be just about right.
3.Start small. It is so much more fun to celebrate a successful small garden than to struggle and be overwhelmed with a larger plot. You may find that your best option is to begin with a constructed raised garden, because ultimtately you should grow what you and your family wants to eat.
When determining the size of your garden, you should consider that you want to have paths or at least access to tend to it! Weeding, thinning beets , carrots and radishes are all tasks that are important to complete and will lead to a better harvest, and you need space to make your gardening experience more enjoyable. A good rule of thumb is that to make sure that you can reach the centre of the row or bed easily, don't make them wider than 4 feet.
Think about what plants should be planted where in the garden. If you are wanting to grow climbing pole beans or indeterminate tomatoes that need to be staked , consider planting them on the the north side of the garden so that they do not shade out your lower plantings.
So with the all important location of your garden set, you have know accounted for a large part of your success this growing season. In a future blog post, we will discuss veggie selection and seed starting.