Step one to successfully planting vegetables is looking at your space with a critical eye. It may not be practical to use a 10′ x 10′ or 20′ x 20′ space, in which case you’ll want to consider container gardening for your crop. You can move the containers for your chosen vegetables so they receive enough light daily, and you can pick out decorative ones that add more visual appeal to your gardening effort.
For those gardeners looking to more “traditional” planting – it’s very important to use your space effectively. A lot of people forget that the garden isn’t simply width and depth – you also have vertical space that you can fill with gourds, beans, melons and the like. If you plan to mix flowers into your vegetable array, fixtures like trellises can do double-duty for the blossoms.
You can plant seeds in rows, raised beds, or hills. What’s most important is how far into the soil the seed goes. Look at the seed’s thickness. Times that size by four in terms of how deep a furrow you make. That will keep the seed from washing away or harvesting by hungry birds. If your soil has a high amount of sand, you can put the seed down further. Make sure the soil on top of the seed is well-tilled. If you live in a dry area, add a little mulch over top to retain necessary moisture.
Line ’em Up
One of the reasons that you often see people planting vegetables in rows is because it’s simple and functional. It gives you an effective use of your garden space, and makes it easy to figure out what’s really a vegetable and what’s a weed. Alternatively you could try wide row planning where you evenly scatter your chosen seeds in a wider space, which decreases the thinning you have to do later. Onions, beans and lettuce all benefit from wide row planting. There’s also the option of hill planting, which is typically used with things like melon or cucumbers – vegetables with vines. Since you only sew a few seeds in each hill you won’t need to thin them as they grow.
Note that if you haven’t added organic material or fertilizer to your soil, you will need to do so if transplanting seedlings from indoors. An all-purpose fertilizer dissolved in water does the trick quite nicely. Just be sure to follow the directions in terms of portioning. Your seedlings’ roots are sensitive now – too much fertilizer can shock the plant or burn the roots. Hint: a good watering before transplanting helps your vegetables adjust to the new outdoor environment.
If you purchase seedlings at a store, make sure to loosen the soil around the roots before transplanting. Put the seedling down into the soil up to its first leaf set.
Don’t forget as you lay out your plants that you’ll need a space within which to walk and weed. You can accomplish this fairly easily with pavers or stepping stones. Don’t overlook the importance of weeding as your vegetables can get crowded out. Additionally a crowded garden is more prone to disease and insect infestation due to the lack of good air circulation.