Starting a Vegetable Garden

Cabbage

Have you ever tasted home cooked fresh vegetables prepared by either a friend or relative and wished you could eat like that regularly? One way to accomplish that outside of going to a farmers market is to grow your own vegetables. May is typically a great time in Alabama to plant a garden so you can enjoy the benefits this summer. If you have never had a vegetable garden before there are some basic things to do to have the best chance at success.

First is choosing the right spot. You do not want to have your garden in a shady area as most gardens require lots of sunshine. Pick a place in your yard that provides good access to sunlight and the ability to move around the rows that you will plant. Also make sure you are able to reach your garden with a hose in order to water it regularly when rain is scarce.

Second, decide what type of vegetables you wish to grow. Some vegetables require more room than others to grow. Once you have decided what to plant, go to the store (or a trusted friend) and get the correct seeds. Although you may think all you need is beans, tomatoes and corn certain types of seeds can produce different flavors of vegetables. As an example…some people like Silver Queen Corn and Rattlesnake Beans. There are also different types of beans such as pole beans, green beans, etc.

Third, turn the ground over with either a rototiller, shovel, or tractor (sometimes known as plowing it up). You will find out that if you have a big garden the rototiller can be a great friend to you. Once the garden is plowed you will need to make sure any weeds are removed and rows are created for planting (a hoe can be great for this activity).

Fourth, plant the garden. Each row will typically have a different vegetable on it. Take the seeds and plant them in the ground with a little fertilizer. After planting water the garden so the seed can begin to germinate.

Fifth, keep a check on the garden to make sure it is watered about every two to three days, weeded either by hoeing out the weeds, or rototilling the weeds, and making sure any new growth is properly supported if needed. An example is tomato plants will eventually need to have a stake next to them (or something similar) and then be tied off so they will grow up and the stems not break.

Sixth, regularly harvest your vegetables (or as we sometimes say in the south, pick the garden). It is necessary to harvest regularly at the right time. If you get them too early they will not be good. If you get them too late they may be tough when cooked. If you ignore them for long periods they will stop reproducing and then will eventually die.

Seventh, take your vegetables inside, wash and prepare them for either cooking, or storing for future use by either freezing, or canning them. You can also make a lot of friends by sharing the bounty of your efforts with neighbors and others whom you may know.