Have you thought of starting a vegetable garden this year? Spring is around the corner and it’s the perfect time to start planning. You may be thinking that growing a garden will require too much time for today’s busy lifestyle. This is partially true… the initial planning requires most of the time and investment but once you have established the garden, the yearly maintenance is minimal and most of the required work could be done in between seasons. Remember, you don’t have to do the work all on your own. Invite your family and friends to lend a hand, gardening is a great outdoor activity that is healthy and fun! Also, don’t forget about your gardener, most of us have one and they can offer help with tasks that you may not be familiar with.
If you have never planted a vegetable garden before you should first choose the location and plan a layout. Depending on the amount of space you have be sure to build your garden in the sunniest spot of your property. The only crops that don’t require much sun are the leaf crops (ex/lettuce, spinach, and arugula). If you are limited for space, don’t be discouraged. You can grow fewer varieties of your favorite and most used veggies in the space that you have or plant in large vegetable pots and/or containers. Whether big or small you will benefit from the many advantages of growing your own organic vegetables.
I highly recommend using raised beds for planting. Raised beds keep the soil warmer which results in healthier faster growing plants with an extended growing season. They also are helpful physically for squatting, kneeling and bending while you are working in your garden. Additional benefits include better water drainage and pest control; you definitely want to keep the rabbits and gophers out!
There are several types of raised beds that you can purchase or build yourself. Our first vegetable garden was planted in a raised wooden garden bed. When we gained enough experience (I suggest starting out small) we decided to expand. We formed a 1200 square foot garden with 14 temporary raised beds, surrounded by a chicken wired fence and watered using a drip water system. This was the easiest and most economical way to form a garden that would allow us to grow a large variety of vegetables in a protected area that could water itself.
The advantages of temporary raised beds are that they are less labor intensive and inexpensive. You can form them as high and wide as you would like and in accordance to the amount of space that you have available. Note that the beds will flatten throughout the season and will need to be reformed in between growing seasons. I don’t mind it because it allows me to redesign the garden the following season if needed. The simple chicken wired fence surrounding the garden stands about 2 ft. tall and 6 inches into the ground to keep pests and animals out. The water drip irrigation system has worked perfectly for us; it waters the plants using a small amount of water, targeting the roots of the plants in the specific areas where water is needed.
Hope I was able to get you thinking about starting a vegetable garden this year! Below is a photograph of our newly planted vegetable garden in March 2009. To view additional photgraphs Click Here. Stay tuned for more gardening tips as we approach the Spring 2011 season! Feel free to Contact Me with any questions and or comments!