So, you’re thinking about starting your very own vegetable garden? Harvesting your own vegetables at home is a great way to save on your grocery bill. As a beginner vegetable gardener, the number one gardening tip we have for you is to plan ahead! It’s easy to get swept up in buying new vegetable seeds, wood if you’re considering building raised garden beds, and shiny new gardening tools when you want to take the plunge. However, it’s important to sit down, sketch out the vegetable garden you want, determine which vegetables you want to plant, and calculate the footprint of a garden that will make it all work. It can all quickly add up to much more work and space than you were expecting!
While a number of vegetable garden layouts are available, the one that probably makes the most sense for a home vegetable garden is a block style layout. A block style garden is structured to eliminate the walking space in between rows, which are common in a traditional row garden. Without walking paths you can maximize the space available to you to grow the greatest amount. Block style gardens are popular in backyard raised bed gardens as they’re easy to maintain after they’re set up. However, if you live in the city and don’t have yard space, container gardening is always an option as you only need a bit of patio or deck space to set up your veggie containers.
Whether you choose block style or traditional rows, or rectangular raised garden beds or urban containers to hold your vegetable garden, the next big item to check off the vegetable garden planning list is location. Most vegetables need full sun – that means a solid 6-8 hours of sunshine a day – so choose a sunny spot that you can count on throughout the season. Also remember to not set up your new vegetable garden too close to trees as they will compete with your vegetables for water and nutrients in the soil.
In fact, soil preparation is critical to a successful vegetable garden. When planting so many vegetables near each other (even when adequately spaced apart), they all need careful attention, a regular water source, and nutrient-rich soil. If you’re planting down into your native soil, it’s important to till the soil so it’s loose and well-draining, and add organic matter to increase the nutrient density. If you’re building a raised bed garden, the soil can be the easiest part as you are filling the beds with a fresh blend of organic matter, topsoil, and usually some growing mix, thus providing that beautiful loose soil needed for vegetable gardening.
Next up, when choosing the right vegetables for your garden, keep in mind that each will need a certain amount of space to grow, some more than others. Below is a helpful chart for “Suggested Spacing” for new vegetable gardens provided by Colorado State University.
· Beets: 4-6” by 4-6″
· Carrots: 2-3″ by 2-3″
· Celery: 7-9″ by 7-9″
· Garlic: 4-6” by 4-6″
· Kohlrabi: 7-9″ by 7-9″
· Leeks: 4-6” by 4-6″
· Lettuce, head: l0-l2” by 10-12”
· Lettuce, leaf: 7-9″ by 7-9″
· Onions, bunching: 2-3″ by 2-3″
· Onions, dry: 4-6″ by 4-6”
· Parsnips: 5-6” by 5-6″
· Radishes: 2-3″ by 2-3″
· Spinach: 4-6” by 4-6”
· Swiss chard: 7-9” by 7-9”
· Turnips: 4-6” by 4-6″
Have questions on vegetable gardening? Come into City Floral Garden Center at 1440 Kearney Street in Denver and our helpful staff are ready and excited to talk with you all about vegetable gardening!