Simple Health Blog

Plant Your Vegetables

May 4, 2020 | Friends and Home Life, Learn to Eat Clean and Healthy

8 Tips to Create an Ideal Vegetable Garden

Last time we talked about planting flowers, and enjoying the rebirth of spring.  This time, we’d like to go a bit further and talk about getting ready to plant vegetables.  As we have discussed before, there lots of benefits to eating veggies, especially those you grow yourself.  For a refresher on the benefits, check out our blog Eat Your Veggies.

One of the most important parts of gardening is to have a good location and plan.  Think about what you want to grow, how much sun your garden will receive, when each crop reaches peak harvest, and what type of maintenance is required.  Talk with friends and neighbors, or even a staff member at your local garden center, to make sure you have a solid plan before you begin.

Once your plan is set, it’s time to get going.  Here are the basic steps you need to take in order to get the most from your garden:

  • Once you have chosen your garden space based on location, size, and sun, spend some time tilling the soil, adding compost as you go. Tilling aerates the soil, and provides a loose environment for roots to take hold and grow strong.  If you are preparing a site for the first time, till down 6-10 inches. Existing beds need less, approximately 3-5 inches.
  • Choose your seeds carefully. For information on using organic seeds, look back to our blog Detox Your Garden.  Make sure to purchase seeds from a reputable dealer, and check the date stamp on each package to ensure the seeds are current.  Older seeds may not produce at the rate newer seeds will.  Make sure you read the seed labels carefully for directions and tips.
  • If you are not going to use chemically-based herbicides, consider laying landscape fabric across your planting area, then cutting through it where needed to plant. This will help minimize weeds right from the beginning. When weeds do pop up, catch them when they are small- they will be easier to remove.
  • Dig your rows to the recommended depth, and leave enough space between them to allow for optimal growth.
  • Consider companion planting. There is some research that shows that certain types of vegetables complement each other when placed together in a garden. Garlic, basil, and tomatoes are one combination, and a mix of carrots, lettuce, and onions is another.  Companion planting involves plants with different root lengths and nitrogen content, and some growers believe it can increase production and overall plant health.
  • Once your seeds are in the ground, provide a good watering, but be careful not to soak the ground or disturb the newly planted seeds. Some people add additional compost along the rows, or place paper bags or newspapers around the new seeds to help prevent weeds.
  • If your location is prone to visits by wildlife, consider putting up a chicken wire fence to keep the critters out. If your garden is near the house, try using a motion sensor at night.  Sudden light will often scare off those late night visitors.
  • Monitor your garden frequently. Remove weeds, water regularly, and thin out plants that do not appear to be thriving.  As your vegetables grow, make sure they are staked and supported if need be.

A lot goes into planning, planting, and tending a garden, but if done in moderation, it can be a relaxing and enjoyable activity.  Plus, the end result is increased health, knowing what went into your food, and pride of accomplishment.  For an added benefit, plant an extra row or two and donate leftover produce to your local food bank.  Veggies can be hard to come by at pantries, and will be much appreciated.  Above all else, enjoy your time outdoors and in the garden!