The term gardening can mean several things so this discussion is going to center around home gardening for the purpose of producing some food. It is good to take a little time to do some planning and thinking through what plants you will want to have for your produce.
First the location has to be decided upon. Pick a location that drains well, as it won’t do to have water standing around in puddles. The plants won’t do too well in those circumstances. Choose an area that receives a lot of sunlight during the day. Hopefully the soil is good and loamy, but if not mix in compost, manure and even some topsoil if need be. The more of these items that are mixed into the soil, the better will be the harvest.
Avoid sandy or clay soils and shady areas. Stay away from trees and shrubs, as they should not compete with the vegetables and vice versa.
Before it’s time to plant, make a diagram of what you would like to plant and in what areas. Attempt to show what rows the plants will be located in, which vegetable are planted where and the distance between rows. Keep the early plants such as radishes, lettuce and onions close together. Plants that will grow taller should be grouped together at the north end of the garden. Corn, pole beans and tomatoes would fall into this category and the idea is too keep them from shading the other plants.
Be sure to allow extra room for watermelon, cantaloupe and squash.
Corn should be planted in several short rows to increase pollination, rather than one or two long rows. Plant the same vegetables at different times of the year to increase the overall yields. For example, make smaller weekly plantings of beans, carrots, cabbage, and lettuce instead of a single large planting.
To prepare the garden, a rototiller will work, and in smaller areas a shovel can be used to turn the soil. A hoe and rake for battling weeds, a trowel for more detailed weed surgery, a garden hose and sprinkler for watering, and a good duster or sprayer for control of pests just about runs the gamut for needed equipment.
Fertilizer and mulch should be on hand for continued feeding of the soil. String and short stakes are helpful for marking rows and longer stakes are necessary for tomatoes. Some of the plants can be started by seed, but others do better outdoors when started as a small plant. Tomatoes, broccoli, cabbage and peppers do better starting from plants.
For fertilizer, a soil test done at the friendly county cooperative will be the best option of what and how much fertilizer to apply initially and periodically to the garden. The people who work there are experts in this area and will be able to advise properly in this area.
There is nothing better than enjoying produce that has just been harvested from the backyard garden. It is really not as much work as some people think and it is the best way to obtain fresh vegetables for the dinner plate.