Five Steps to Prepare a Vegetable Garden

The early days of springtime begin to usher in warmer days and daydreams of serving homegrown vegetables at the family table once again. While gardeners and gourmet cooks alike are eager to fill their landscapes with vegetable plants to nurture, the premier weeks of spring can still present frosty nights. Take this time to ponder what you envision for your garden and to carry out these preparatory steps in order to maximize a bountiful season.
Step 1: Planning

Consider the size, location and style of the garden that will best suit your needs. These deliberations will enable you to delve into a garden that will be enjoyable and rewarding rather than overwhelming or impractical.

When contemplating size, consider how much time you have to devote to regular garden maintenance once planting is complete. Also decide which vegetables you and your family enjoy the most and choose produce that typically trends within the cuisine of your preferred cooking recipes.

Choose a location that offers full sun exposure, shelter from high winds and soil with good drainage in which to designate a vegetable gardening spot. Be sure to have a long enough hose to easily reach this location for daily watering.

There are many style options for vegetable gardens, from simple oblong plots of soil to raised beds to vast and elaborately designed garden areas.
Step 2: Designing

Begin construction once you have chosen the garden spot and the layout. Determine if you desire wooden framework to define the garden’s edges and sections and decide on whether fencing around the perimeter may be necessary to prevent pets and wildlife from trouncing and grazing. Vertical structures will be needed for climbing specimens such as cucumbers or string beans. Establish walkway paths in order to access all sections of the garden.
Step 3: Soil Preparation

Dig and turn all of the soil to a depth of approximately twelve inches. Remove weeds, old plant material and debris. Break and crumble large chunks of dirt until it all appears uniformly fine. Next, evenly distribute compost throughout the garden and mix until it is incorporated with the soil.

Garden centers and county cooperative extension centers will test soil samples to determine if any other substances should be mixed in to correct soil conditions that may be counteractive in growing a successful vegetable garden.

Cover the soil with a plastic tarp until you are ready to plant. This serves a dual purpose of retaining daytime warmth, thus preventing the soil from freezing during early spring nighttime temperature plunges, as well as discouraging weed growth during this interim.
Step 4: Planting

Once threats of frost have subsided for the season, then you are ready to add the plants. Water the garden thoroughly on the day before planting, and again immediately once planting is complete. Follow label instructions regarding spacing since overcrowding can lead to nonproductive and spindly plants. Cover spaces between plants with mulch to retard weed growth and to hold moisture.
Step 5: Maintenance

Water the garden daily and remove weeds regularly. Pinch early plant growth to encourage fuller plants and harvest vegetables regularly to promote continued production. Stake taller plants and be sure to protect plants when threatened with harsh weather events.

No vegetable or fruit is more flavorful and rewarding than that which is picked fresh from your own garden. Homegrown produce not only saves money, it enables your family to savor a healthy diet at its delicious and nutritious best.