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Front Page » April 28, 2009 » Farm and Ranch » Bring the garden to your dinner table: plant vegetables
Published 2,353 days ago

Bring the garden to your dinner table: plant vegetables

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Growing a garden is a rewarding experience for someone looking to add color and wildlife to the landscape. However, growing a fruit and vegetable garden offers the same delight and more - a harvest of fresh produce you can enjoy with every meal.

There are few things more satisfying than nursing a seedling or young plant into maturity and being able to harvest what it grows. Everything seems more delicious when it's home-grown. However, keep in mind that biting into that juicy tomato or grilling up that fresh-plucked zucchini is the last step in a successful garden. It takes a little more than tossing down seed and waiting for a bounty. There are steps to ensure success.

While you may want your garden a stone's throw from the home for easy access, consider the conditions of the soil and the light that area gets before planting. A vegetable garden typically needs six or more hours of sunlight to thrive. So watch how the sun strikes areas of your landscape throughout the day and see what barriers to the sunlight (trees, houses) present themselves. Soil conditions include how well the soil will drain, soil quality and obstacles that show up while digging, including rocks or deep roots. Determine if soil quality can be amended with compost, peat moss and other nutrients.

While planning, consider the vegetables you'd like to have in your garden. It may be cost effective to start plants from seeds indoors and transplant to the outdoors at the right time of year. But some plants do not like transplanting and prefer to start and grow outside in the garden. A gardening center can help you navigate the different vegetable types and help you determine the proper planting methods and dates.

While keeping in mind location, think about how you will fence in your garden to keep out unwanted pests. Also think about plant height and growth. You'll want taller plants in the back so that they do not end up shading the shorter plants from the sun.

The best soil for a successful garden is fertile and well-drained. Hard shale, rock ledges, gravel beds, deep sand, and other types can make gardening difficult to impossible. If this is all you have to work with, consider container gardening instead, where you can better control the soil condition. Most soil just needs a simple tune up with organic matter to make it hospitable for a vegetable garden.

If you are sowing seeds, create shallow grooves into which you will deposit the seeds. Cover the seeds with a fine soil and lightly water to set. The most important thing to remember concerning seeds is that they require adequate moisture to germinate. Keep seeds moist until they form strong seedlings.

When transplanting from vegetables you started indoors, or if planting items you bought at a garden center, dig a hole slightly larger than the root ball of the existing plant. Water the plants before removing them from their container to lessen the shock. Then tap the container to loosen and remove the plant. Separate tightly woven roots gently and place the plant in the hole. Cover with soil and water thoroughly.

Depending upon your choice of vegetables, you could enjoy fresh vegetables from May through October. Don't forget to include some herb plants in your garden so you'll have savory seasonings to add to your fresh vegetable recipes.

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April 28, 2009
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