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Home Vegetable Garden Basics

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When deciding where to locate your home vegetable garden, forget that old idea of the garden patch needing to be a sore spot out in the yard. If planned thoughtfully, carefully planted, and cared for thoroughly, your vegetable garden can definitely be a very harmonious and beautiful part of your landscape and lend a comfortable touch that no beds, borders, or shrubs could ever produce.

Keeping this in mind means we won’t feel that any portion of the premises is off limits just because it is behind the garage or barn and out of sight. For most moderate-sized lots, the choices for land will be limited. You will need to use what is available and do the best that you can with it. However, you probably will have choices when it comes to exposure as well as convenience.

With all else being equal, choose a spot close by with easy access. At first thought, you might think a couple of hundred yards won’t make much of a difference. However, when you are mostly depending on using your spare moments to work in and watch over your garden- and when it comes to growing many vegetables both of these matters are basically of equal importance- having convenient access is going to be a lot more important than you might first realize when you are planning your vegetable garden.

You may not realize how important this is until you’ve made a dozen or so time-wasting trips to get tools or seeds that you forgot or get your feet soaking wet when you walk out into the grass drenched in dew. Then you might start to realize how important it is to have your garden located in a close and convenient place.


However, the first important thing that you need to consider is choosing a spot that will not only make you happy but also produce tasty vegetables all summer long, or perhaps even for a number of years, is your garden’s exposure. Choose the earliest spot that is available- a plot that slopes slightly to the east or south and appears to get sunlight early and then holds it late.

You also want a spot that is not directly in the path of cold northeast and north winds. If there is a fence or building that provides protection from the wind, it will really help your garden quite a lot. Getting off to a good early start really is a main factor for success. If the area isn’t protected already, you might want to consider adding some evergreen trees or shrubs or perhaps a shrub to offer some shelter. The amateur gardener often severely underestimates the need for adequate shelter or protection for their garden.

The Soil

There is a good chance that you won’t find ideal garden soil anywhere on your property that is ready to use as is. However, it is possible to bring it up to a high level of productiveness, particularly in the small spaces that most home vegetable gardens need. Large tracts of almost purely sand soil and mucky and heavy ground that hasn’t been cultivated for centuries have been frequently brought up in just a couple of years to the point where tremendous crops are yielded on a yearly basis.

So when it comes to your soil, don’t be discouraged. It is far more important that it is properly treated. A garden patch with never-brought-up or average run-down soil can produce a lot more for a careful and active gardener than a spot with rich soil and average cultivation methods.

The ideal soil for the garden is sandy, rich loam. However, it really can’t be emphasized enough that usually these kinds of soils are made rather than found. When it comes to gardening there are four very important factors. The first, of course, is food. The other three are temperature, moisture, and cultivation. In garden language rich refers to soil with lots of plant food in it.

It also means the plant food is in a state that can be used right away, spread out, and prepared on the gardening table, where growing things will be able to use it. In other words, we are referring to plant food that is available. Hardly any soil in areas with long-inhabited communities stay rich enough naturally to produce large crops. There are two ways they are kept or made rich. The first method is through cultivation. This helps with changing raw plant food that is stored within the soil. The second way is by adding plant food or manure into the soil from external sources.

This should give you a pretty good idea of what constitutes good garden soil. Yours might have too much clay or too much sand. If so, it is a disadvantage. However, with some perseverance and energy, to a large extent you will be able to overcome this.


However, there is one more thing you need to look for when you are choosing the site for your garden. That thing is drainage. Dig eight to twelve inches down once you’ve selected your chosen spot. Then take a look at the sub-soil or second strata. This layer usually has a different color and texture from the soil on the surface and is harder as well. No matter how poor or yellow the soil on the surface looks, if you find a gravelly or sandy bed, you’ve found a good spot. However, if it is heavy and stiff clay you will need to drain the soil or be satisfied with a garden that is very late unless it happens to be on a slope or knoll.

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