Whether you are starting a new vegetable garden, or growing a new vegetable for the first time, the last thing you want to do is guess.
You want to make sure you have a comfortable grasp on what you are growing in your vegetable garden, and on where you will grow it.
Guessing a good location could end with disappointing results.
If you were building a deck on the back of your home, you wouldn’t just walk outside and just start nailing boards together, would you?
I hope not.
You would first decide where you want the deck, the shape and size of the deck, what type of materials you want to use, and set a budget.
It’s no different with vegetable gardening.
You need to determine what you want to grow, the location of the vegetable garden, the size of it, the arrangement of the plants, and other factors that may come into play.
Here are a few things you should do before ever planting that first vegetable.
Watch the Sunlight
When first planning your vegetable garden, you will most likely have a location already picked out in your mind where you’d like to grow your vegetables.
It’s a very good idea to watch that area throughout the day to find out how much sunlight it gets.
If that area is shaded for most of the day and only receives full sun for two or three hours, you need to choose a different location.
Most vegetables require a minimum of eight hours of full sun per day. Less than this and your vegetables will not produce as well as they should.
The best time to watch the sun is in the spring and summer months. The sun is a little more in the southern sky during the summer months, so if you check for sunlight in November, it may be different come June.
Also if you perform this check in winter be aware of nearby trees and large shrubs.
During winter the area may receive plenty of full sun, but be shaded in the summer once the leaves on the trees have filled out.
The last thing you want is a shaded vegetable garden, trust me.
Yeah, I learned this lesson the hard way.
One year, in early spring, I planted an awesome small vegetable garden.
Two months later when the trees were full of leaves I had an awesome shade garden and my vegetables did very poorly because of it.
Perform a Soil Test
Once you have a location that will receive at least eight hours of sunlight you need to check the soil. This is probably one of the most overlooked elements of starting a new vegetable garden.
Many times gardeners plant a vegetable garden for the first time and it fails because of poor soil.
If you are starting a vegetable garden for the first time, or adding a new area to your existing vegetable garden, perform a soil test to get an evaluation on pH and nutrient levels of your soil.
You also want to check to see if the soil is sandy or has high amounts of clay.
Sandy soils generally contain low levels of nutrients and drain very quickly. This soil type will be very loose and will not clump up when balled up in your hand.
Clay soils generally contain good levels of nutrients, but drain very slowly. This soil type can be very hard and clumpy when balled up in your hand.
The very best way to deal with sandy or clay soil is adding copious amounts of compost worked repeatedly into the soil.
In fact, continually adding compost to your garden soil is the sure fire way to develop ideal soil for your vegetable garden.
Doing this season after season will give you such fantastic soil that you will seldom ever need to check it again. Just plant your vegetables and watch them take off!
There are some very easy soil test kits that you can buy for just a few bucks that will give you a good starting point on how good your soil is.
You can also send soil samples to your local cooperative extension for a complete soil analysis that will tell you everything you ever want to know about your soil nutrient levels, composition, and pH levels.
These tests generally cost between $7 to $15 depending on the locality.
Use Some Modern Technology
There’s a device available on the market today that can help you determine a good location for a vegetable garden and it’s call the Black & Decker PlantSmart Digital Plant Care Sensor.
Yeah, it’s a mouthful, huh?
You take the device, stick it in the soil where you want to grow any particular vegetable, and leave it there for at least 24 hours.
During this time it will take readings of available sunlight, soil temperature, humidity, moisture and soil quality. Once it has completed the analysis, you plug it into your computer via a USB cable.
Log into the PlantSmart web site and list the plants you intend to grow in that area.
The web site will then provide you with detailed instructions for growing your plants customized to your exact conditions, and tell you want you need to do for that vegetable to thrive in the area where you placed the sensor..
The PlantSmart device is ideal for starting a new vegetable garden, or planting a brand new variety in your existing space.
It can make all the difference in the world when you can go out and confidently plant your vegetable garden over wondering if you are planting in the best place.
Don’t plant and just hope it will all work out. Take the appropriate steps to ensure success!
Start Your Vegetable Garden Right!
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