What is P.P.T. you ask? Planning, Planting, and Tending. These are the three main steps to growing vibrant, flourishing vegetable gardens.
Planning is always the most important step to any successful vegetable garden layout. There are some important things to consider before you fire up that rotor tiller and start digging in.
~~How much time can you dedicate to your vegetable garden?
~~What type of vegetables are you planning to grow?
~~Are you starting from seed or plant or both?
~~What size vegetable garden do you plan to utilize?
~~Where do you plan to situate the vegetable garden?
~~Does this area get enough sunshine?
Logically thinking things through and patient planning will produce great reward. It is recommended that you start small your first year to get a handle on things. Fifteen feet wide by thirty feet long is plenty of space to keep you busy and produce sizable results.
Digging the Garden
After you determine a place to put the garden you need to prepare the area. Sod removal is required in grassy areas. It is helpful to outline your garden with stakes and twine to keep it more uniform.
Once you have outlined the garden area you will need to take a flat edged shovel and dig at an angle outside the twine line to loosen the sod. Removing the stakes and twine after you loosen the sod will make it easier to maneuver the rotor tiller at the edges.
After the garden’s edges have been established, dig and turn the rest of the inner area. The larger the garden, the more dirt there will be to turn, so do yourself a favor and either use a rotor tiller or find someone you can hire the tilling out to. (Hiring out this part of the job will save a lot of back-breaking work.)
Testing the Soil and pH LevelWhatever you decide about the dirt turning, you may want to get a soil sample. This will tell you what kind of soil you have and if it is necessary to till additives into the soil in order to make your plants thrive. You can purchase soil tests at your local garden center. Follow the directions and the test will tell you exactly what you need to know about your soil. Just remember that the soil needs to be dry when tested.
The amount of acidity or alkalinity of the soil is pH. Vegetable gardens ideally should be around 6 to 6.5 pH. If your pH is lower or higher it is recommended to put some additives into the soil. Your local garden center can usually help you decide what to add. Be prepared to give them the dimensions or the square feet of your garden. If the soil needs to be more acidic you can add sulfur. To raise the acidity you add lime. There is a multitude of other additives and the staff at the garden center will be able to assist you with any specific situations.
Before planting a vegetable garden you need to consider where you live. Planting times vary throughout the United States due to weather conditions. Consult your local Farmers Almanac for optimal spring and fall planting times.
During the planning process you decided on an assortment of vegetables. Different vegetables are required to be planted at different depths and distances apart. Here are a few depth and spacing recommendations for your common kitchen garden:
~~Bush Snap Beans-1"-2 inches deep, 2 inches between plants, and 18-30 inches between rows.
~~Sweet Corn-1"-2 inches deep, 12 inches between plants, and 30-36 inches between rows.
~~Slicing and Pickling Cucumbers-1 inch deep, 12 inches between mounds, and 4-6 feet between rows.
~~Sweet Peppers-1/2 inch deep, 18 inches between plants, and 3 feet between rows.
~~Tomatoes -1/2 inch deep, 2 feet between plants, and 3-5 feet between rows.
When planting from seed you can usually get all the required information on the seeds package. Look for planting times, depth to plant, distance between plants, distance between rows, best soil ph, and days to maturity. However, the first year gardener might find it more convenient to purchase plants from the local gardening center.
From pulling those tedious, never-ending weeds to picking a ripe tomato or cucumber, if you are a true gardener, you will find enjoyment and peace of mind in tending to your vegetable garden. Most weeds and bugs just look ugly; they won't really do much harm if you keep them away from the immediate area of your plants. Avoid weed killers and pesticides if at all possible. There are old remedies, like putting Epsom salt around the base of your plants to help keep bugs away, which are much healthier than chemicals. A nice compliment to your vegetable garden is to plant marigolds around the perimeter in a U shape. This gives it a nice colorful border.