You don’t have to grow organic, but we can’t deny it’s a beautiful thing when the plants you love just love you right back. Planet Natural has developed this vegetable gardening guide to answer your biggest questions, no matter how you choose to tend your crop.
As the months passed, this experiment became a labor of love, and not just for the love of great food.
Today, even years after my first revelation of real food from a local farm, I am still amazed.
Putting good plan into action for your vegetable garden will make the garden better suit your needs than if you just go out and throw some plants into the ground.
This post will help you find a suitable spot for your vegetable garden, and will help you take advantage of companion planting and succession planting techniques so that all of your garden space is most efficiently used. The best vegetable garden soil is a light, well-drained sandy loam with high organic content and fertility, and free from rocks and stones. Vegetables don’t all have the same requirements for soil, temperature and moisture levels.
Other vegetables like tomatoes, beans, peppers or eggplant require hot weather, and should be planted where they get the biggest amount of sunlight in the garden. Companion planting is when you plant certain types of vegetables next to each other at the same time that are harvested at different times.
Succession planting means that you grow one plant until it is harvested, and then you immediately replace it with a different plant that grows next, because it is better suited to that part of the season.
Some succession plantings might overlap, like when tomato plants are placed in between rows of early peas that still have a picking on the vines.
An experienced gardener might not need a garden plan if he or she has been using the same plot for many years, because he or she will be familiar with the vegetables that he or she usually grows, and their space requirements. But hey, if you were that experienced, you probably wouldn’t be reading this blog post, would you? When possible, low vegetables like lettuce, beets, beans and carrots should be on the east side of the garden. A good plan has enough room to walk through it, so that you can water effectively and look out for weeds and pests. Soils are generally defined based on their composition of these three ingredients (sand, silt, and clay.) Sandy soil is mostly sand.
If you are asking yourself now “Which soil type do I have?”, there are some simple ways to know the answer. Soil is the foundation of a healthy garden, and the healthy microorganisms in soil actually aid the plants in obtaining their nutrients, healthy soil is essential to a vegetable gardener.  Chemical fertilizers may yield quick and visually impressive results in the short term, but long term they not only destroy the health of the soil, they also deliver only visually appealing food with no nutritive value to speak of in comparison to vegetables grown in healthy soil. It is a pretty good rule of thumb that no matter which of the soil types you have when you start a garden, there is lots of room for improvement, and improvement is not difficult to accomplish.
Vegetable gardens do best in loose loamy soil with lots of organic matter and a slightly acidic pH.
You will want an accurate soil test to determine the pH and nutrient levels of the soil so that you can make amendments as needed to provide the plants with all they need to thrive. A simple pH and NPK soil test kit will do the job of informing you of the acidity of your soil as well as the levels of Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium. To collect soil samples for testing, use a clean spade or trowel and take slices from the garden area down to six inches in depth.
Place the sample(s) in a dry clean plastic, glass or ceramic container (a bucket or recycled plastic container or even a cereal bowl will work fine.) Let the samples dry thoroughly for 24 hours before testing. Avoid taking samples where amendments have been added, such as fertilizers or manures as these will skew the results and fail to provide a true reading of the soil condition.
Tip:  The introduction of peat moss or elemental sulfur can be used to increase acidity in the soil. For most gardeners a 2 inch layer of peat moss over the garden surface and worked in to a depth of 6 to 8 inches will provide enough increase in acidity to reach the slightly acidic levels vegetables require. For those needing additional acidity, the application of elemental sulfur is the first choice for quick and plant-safe action. To increase soil alkalinity in overly acidic soils, additions of limestone (finely ground or granules) or wood ash may be used.
These additions to increase acidity or alkalinity must be made based on the results of your soil testing.
While many modern vegetable gardeners start each season by dragging out the rototiller and churning up the whole garden, this is actually damaging to the soil and while it may provide a good crop the first year, as the nutrients are released, it also destroys the structure of the soil and disrupts the many living organisms which make up healthy soil.
More recently as the popularity of raised-bed gardening has taken hold, the benefits of minimal digging to create the raised bed and then applying generous amounts of organic matter and never walking on the beds themselves has demonstrated to many gardeners the power of truly healthy and living soil. Unlike rototilling, a raised bed will tend to become more productive and healthy over time, as the micro-organisms are left undisturbed and can continue to multiply and work the garden soil for you, year after year.
Permaculture has introduced yet another and even less strenuous, less invasive and simpler method of soil preparation for a garden by simply using sheet or straw mulching. Straw or sheet mulched beds can be set up in fall and left over winter or set up just prior to planting.

Learn more about amendments and soil improvement for increased yields and healthier gardens. Growing tomatoes in containers offers a convenient way to get around soil born tomato pests and achieve healthy tomatoes in spite of these challenges. Planting your own garden does not have to be hard.  By following the advice given below, you can have a vegetable garden in practically no time. Many people choose to place a small fence around their garden to prevent pests, however this is optional.  It is important to water all of the vegetables on a regular basis and to pick them as soon as they are ripe. Canadians Michel Beauchamp and Josee Landry designed their own garden, in their Drummondville, Quebec, front yard.
New front-yard vegetable gardens are sprouting up all over, and gardeners are finding themselves championing causes beyond fresh broccoli and sun-ripened tomatoes.
Kitchen Gardeners International took up the couple’s cause with a petition that received thousands of signatures and made an appropriately big impression on the local city council. As they cultivated their beets and beans, the two first-time gardeners discovered a world-wide community of helpful and supportive individuals and organizations. Front-yard vegetable gardens start conversations, bring neighbors together, and advance the cause of local, small-scale vegetable gardening, Dorion says.
In January, when temperatures in Drummondville were well below zero, Landry and Beauchamp were still eating preserved, canned, and stored vegetables from their summer garden, and savoring their new passion for urban agriculture. Marty Ross is a garden journalist and gardener who lives in Kansas City, MO, and Virginia’s Tidewater region. How can we get every community in everyone of the 50 states of the USA to change the front yard landscape code so we can all grow food?
I started planting flowers & grasses in a difficult to mow easement more than 20 years ago. I HAVE TRIED FOR 2 YEARS NOW TO GROW A SUCCESSFUL GARDEN ON MY FRONT PORCH AS WELL AS MY BACKYARD. An organic farm just 30 minutes away from my door was selling shares of their crops, and I signed up for a weekly delivery. Thanks to the internet, I was able to find an organic supply store that had everything I needed: GMO-free seeds, natural fertilizers and soil-boosters, and a whole slew of organic products for pest control, including ladybugs. I began to see how a chemical-free landscape was helping me heal my little corner of the world. There is nothing like the sweet crunch of a carrot freshly pulled from the earth, served only with a splash of cold water. You’ll get a far bigger harvest of vegetables from a given amount of space than you would ever imagine.
If you don’t know the average last frost date of your local area, call your local nursery and ask, or search for your garden zone. Optimally, it should be close to your house and close to a water source for convenience in taking care of your garden. If you are gardening in a small space, almost any kind of soil can easily be improved by adding compost and soil amendments.
The greatest amount of sunlight can be arranged by making your garden rows go north and south, and by allowing plenty of space between the rows of the garden. When you remove the early crop, it leaves room for the later crop to keep growing and fill in the space.
Cabbage should never be followed one after another in the same soil, because it can pass on diseases that can remain in the soil.
So you’re probably going to want a vegetable garden plan on paper before you begin digging and planting your vegetable garden. Keep in mind that taller vegetable plants like tomatoes can shade shorter plants, so you’ll want to keep your rows far enough apart to account for that.
The trouble is: I do start out with a plan but rarely stick to it because the plants that I think need lots of space may not do well and then I have to take them out and replant with something else. It is also true that the longer you garden in one place and really take care of the soil, the healthier the soil, and thus the garden will become. Most locations are not blessed with ready-made vegetable garden soil, so you’ll need to do a little investigating of the soil you have and build according to what you find. The test result will help you to determine if you have to add any of these three major nutrients to your soil. Otherwise you can purchase a simple soil test kit at the local hardware, garden supply store or online. If you are new to these practices, talk to a local nursery or university or county extension office to get advice on local materials available and best practices in your area. Plenty of people who grow tomatoes in the garden run into issues with tomato wilt, nematodes and other problems. After choosing the vegetables, it is always a smart idea to invest in some type of devise to keep the bugs and animals away.

If you choose to buy the chemical to prevent animals for entering your garden, spread it around the outside edges of the garden. Josee Landry and Michel Beauchamp of Drummondville, Quebec, ripped out their lawn to install a stylish raised-bed garden in their front yard last year and landed themselves in an international controversy. They started a blog, established a Facebook page, and they’re working with collaborators on a free e-book (it is in French) to help and encourage other vegetable gardeners, sharing their story and as much gardening advice as they can.
They’re planning to grow all their crops from organic seeds and to install rain barrels. A Front Yard Vegetable Garden in Quebecgscadmin on Amaryllis, Againgscadmin on Railing Planters Hold Tight on High-Rise Balconygscadmin on Help Monarchs by Planting Milkweed in Your Gardengscadmin on Dish it Out.
I couldn’t believe the flavor bursting from mild-mannered zucchini and lowly carrots.
Some plants grow better in the northern part of the country, and some in the southern part. You can dig with a spade, or use a garden tiller if you don’t want to do a lot of manual digging.
There are combinations like cabbage and lettuce, radishes with beets, carrots or parsnips, or early beets in the rows between tomatoes. Other examples are spinach followed by sweet corn, peas followed by beans, or early carrots or beets followed by celery. Also the weather in the UK is so unpredictable these days that we plan for a hot summer according to the weather forecasts only to find we would have been better planting rice! Despite being in the city on a medium size lot it is amazing how much you can grow in a small space. However, the best soil for farming and cultivating around the world is known as loam, which is a relatively even composition of all three soil types. Silt, with a particle size between clay and sand, floats in water as a suspension, and when it’s dry, it turns to dust.
It will give you the essential information you need to succeed in vegetable gardening and without it you are just throwing seeds, plants and your time and effort into the wind. Either test all of the soil in one test for overall results, or test different locations around the garden individually. Once you’ve determined the pH values of your soil, there are several ways to either increase or reduce the acidity of the soil.
You should still do a soil test prior to laying down the mulches to get an idea of the soil underneath, as the garden will grow down into that soil from above. Assuming you have a cool winter and a moist cooler garden spot available in summer, rhubarb is a perfect tasty perennial to add to your garden. The couple took on vegetable gardening as a mid-life project, with the intention of eating healthier food and losing some weight, but in the midst of a pleasant summer of home-grown bounty they were told that city codes required 30 percent grass out front, and that they must reduce the size of their garden or pay substantial fines.
Landry and Beauchamp were allowed to keep their garden, and, with their help (and KGI’s), local laws restricting front-yard gardens are being rewritten. Beauchamp would like to plant fruit trees in the back yard; he is also considering beekeeping.
I’ll be darned if I’ll put my vegetable garden in there so they can pick their own vegetables to boot! A raised bed for growing greens was added to the front yard; last year asparagus was added. Out front we want forms that don’t change much through the year but color that does, as opposed to the other sections of our suburban lot that continuously does with perennials and annuals.
For example, you aren’t going to have much luck with asparagus in hot weather climates like Florida. Plant them in part of the garden that gets early sun, and is shaded during the heat of the day. Clay, in its wet form, is a workable mud or slip, and when it’s dry it turns hard as adobe. Either the plant dries out, causing the tiny hair-like root extensions to die, or these hair-like feeder roots are literally drowned by soil which fails to drain properly.
So decide which way you want to test and then either mix the samples or not, based on your choice. It’s a high compliment and recognition of a property which has only a narrow band of grass undulating down the center of the side yard. A soil which allows a plant to remain moist rather than dry or wet produces optimal growth.

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