When we dream of vegetable gardens most of us envision row upon row of all varieties of vegetable plants with a few flowers and herbs thrown in for aesthetics. A mistake made by many gardeners, both inexperienced and old timers is to plant too much. When the garden is bigger than us the upkeep becomes overwhelming, weeds run wild, and the harvest it too successful to keep up with. If you want your plot to be rewarding and fun, keep it’s size in check with the realities of your time, energy and resources.
Unless you are out to feed the entire neighborhood, I strongly suggest you start your vegetable garden off small and keep it that way. You need to answer the questions, “why am I growing a veggie garden” and for “how many people”? For most of us we want to grow our own veggies for the fun and health benefits and a small plot will produce more harvest than you probably realize. If you plan to can, dry or freeze your crops and use winter storage you can plant a little more, but for garden to table eating a small space is all you need.
A veggie plot for the average household should require about 1 hour of upkeep each week. The beginning of the season, planting time and harvest time will be a bit busier. Make sure to choose a sunny accessible spot in your garden as vegetables for the most part are sun and heat lovers. If your soil is poor take the time at the beginning to enrich it with organic matter. Dig in compost or manure to a depth of 1 foot, and turn your soil over to bring air into it and also lighten it’s structure. Vegetables are heavy feeders and there is no point going through all the work of growing vegetables if you’re not aiming for success. Give your veggies adequate sunshine, nutrients and water and they will do the rest.
Depending on your climate, not all vegetables will be suited to grow in your garden. Best to research which ones agree with your area and plant them first. Once you’ve had success with those branch out to other more difficult crops. A simple row of each variety you choose to grow will be enough, you do not have to use up the whole package of seeds at one time. Use the method called succession planting. This simply means planting one or more repetitions of the same crop. So as not to have more of one crop that you can use at a time, try planting only half a row. A few weeks later plant the rest of the row. This method works very well for many vegetables, spacing their time of harvest to allow you to enjoy them throughout a longer season. Many vegetables can be planted in mid to late summer and still have time to mature for a fall harvest.
By only creating a garden the size you can properly handle, you are guaranteed greater success and enjoyment for your efforts. Once again, less is more!