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Properly planning your vegetable garden may be the single most important step in toward the most bountiful crops and plentiful harvest possible. Some gardeners wait until the last minute to think about their gardens and end up just plopping the plants into the ground without much thought. It’s never too early to start planning your garden, and her are a few things to consider while you’re doing it:
Timing and placement: Consider when each type of plant needs to be planted and when it will be harvested. Some veggies, like radishes and lettuce, will be harvested before some of the larger plants, such as melons and cucumbers, grow too big. Consider placing the early plants in the area that will eventually be consumed by the long vines of the later crops. Also, some plants, such as cucumbers, struggle a bit with the the high temperatures summer brings us here in Utah. To help these plants out, consider planting tall corn or climbing vine plants on the west side of the cucumbers so as to provide some needed shade in the heat of the late afternoon.
Sun: Some plants, such as broccoli, carrots, radishes, lettuce, require a few hours of sun per day, while others like tomatoes, peppers, squash and melon require as much sun as possible. Be sure to plant the sun lovers in the spots with all-day sun, keeping in mind the shade cast by fences houses, and trees.
Spacing: Plants need oxygen to survive. If the plants are crowded too close together, they will with struggle getting enough air and light to all of the leaves, and the yields will be significantly reduced. Some plants, such as carrots and onions, can be spaced a few inches apart, while tomatoes, melons, and cucumbers need several feet. Don’t be deceived when planting tiny, new plants, and put them too close together. Look on the package of seeds or the tag in the plant container to get the proper spacing.
Fertilizer: The amount and type of fertilizer needed for each plant is also a critical step. The plants will need nutrients to in order to put their energy into making produce. Some plants, such as tomatoes, need lots of nutrients, especially nitrogen and calcium, to thrive. Others, like corn, do not require as much. Rotating your crops each year is a good idea so that the same type of plants are not sucking the same nutrients from the soil.
If you are a beginner gardener or you have any questions or concerns with your garden planning, you may want to attend a free class provided by Asphalt Materials on vegetable gardening and the proper use of fertilizer for more and tastier vegetables. Asphalt Materials teaches this and other free classes throughout the season. You can view the class schedule here.