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Monday, April 20, 2009

The Buena Vista Garden, by Yarddawg

Do You Want a Vegetable Garden?

There seems to be a renewed interest by many homeowners to plant vegetable gardens. The current economy has convinced many to try to save money by growing your own. Admittedly the taste of fresh homegrown veggies is hard to beat. BUT - there’s always a but - here’s the kicker. Merely going out and randomly deciding to plant various vegetables is probably not cost effective without proper planning and preparation and knowledge. In order to be successful, cost effective, and tasty, a vegetable garden is serious work requiring money, time, knowledge, planning and a real commitment.

David Bare, columnist from the Winston Salem Journal, recently penned an excellent column on some of what it takes to be successful in your gardening venture. Please read and consider this.

Here are some additional pointers.
  • Get the free soil test. Do not skip this step. A soil ph OF 6.5 TO 7.0 is recommended. Many do not realize the proper PH is important in providing adequate phosphorous to reduce lead (not good) uptake from the soil. The test will also take the guesswork out of costly fertilizer, lime applications.
  • Compost, compost, compost. Enough said.
  • Expect to invest at least 30 minutes per day in labor for weeding, insect control, and general maintenance. Yes there will be weeds and critters.
  • 625 square feet should be sufficient for an average family of four to harvest and eat fresh and preserve for the off-season.
  • The garden must receive at least 6 hours of direct unfiltered sun per day. 8-10 hours is ideal.
  • Plant on high sites in your yard or raise the planting bed.
  • Plan, plan, plan. Draw a diagram of the site and save it for reference. This will help you in future years. Avoid planting related vegetables in the same location more often than once every 3 years. Crop rotation will aid in the prevention and buildup of insects and diseases
  • Plant where you have access to water. 1” of water per week is recommended. A general rule-of-thumb is an average water spigot must run 1.5 to 2.0 hours to deliver 1” of water. Try to avoid watering in late afternoon or evenings which can increase disease problems.
  • Mulch to conserve soil moisture and minimize weed competition.

There’s much more. The above points are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to achieving a successful vegetable garden. If you are really interested in success, I strongly recommend you establish a relationship with a Forsyth County Master Gardener Volunteer at 336-703-2846, or one in your locale, for literature and further information on vegetable gardens. Ask for the NC Vegetable Garden Manual to be mailed to you or go by the office and pick one up.

Your chances of success and achieving satisfaction and REAL money savings, not to mention tasty treats, will be greatly enhanced by following the advice in Mr. Bare’s column and from a Master Gardener.
- Yarddawg
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