Putting some extra effort into preparing your beds before planting will save you a lot of time and effort in the future. Dig the bed up to break up compacted soil (this will help with drainage) and removing rocks and weeds as you go. Try to pull out as much of the weed roots as possible so that they will not come back to haunt you later. This is also a good time to amend your soil.
Vegetables need a bit of extra care when it comes to watering. Consistent watering will produce successful results. If you have a large garden, you may want to consider a soaker hose. This will ensure that your plants get an even watering without getting the leaves wet and all you have to do is remember to turn on the hose.
Many people tend to want to hide the vegetable garden away in a dark corner and save spotlight for the flowers. Vegetable gardens, however, need sunny, open spaces in order to thrive, so you won? reap a bounty if you are not willing to devote some real estate. Also, think about location when planting. You can economize space by planting vegetables next to each other that mature at different times. This way, you have already harvested one when it? neighbor is becoming mature, so both have plenty of space and sun when they need it most.
There are some plants that, when planted close together, will benefit each other. Likewise, there are certain combinations of plants that will inhibit the growth of one or both types of plants. Here are a few combinations to avoid:
- Potatoes inhibit growth of tomatoes and squash
- Beans inhibit growth of onions
- Broccoli inhibits growth of tomatoes
- Carrots inhibit growth of dill
This isn’t to say that you can? grow these plants together in the same garden, just don? grow them right next to each other.
Assuming that you plan to grow vegetables more than one year, it is important that you rotate your crops. Crop rotation prevents building diseases up in the soil and preserves micro-nutrients. Rotating is not very difficult, but does take a little advance planning as well as a basic knowledge of the vegetable families. Vegetables are broken down into basic family groups. These groups should be rotated together as they use soil in similar ways and share similar pests:
- Alliums – Include Onions, Garlic, Scallions, Shallots, and Leeks.
- Brassicas – Include Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cabbage, Brussels Sprouts, and Kale.
- Crucifers – Include Turnips, Radishes, Rutabaga, and Collards.
- Cucurbits – Include Cucumbers, Squashes (from zucchini to pumpkin), and Melons.
- Legumes – Include Peas and Beans.
- Mescluns – Include Arugula, Swiss Chard, Chicory, Endive, Escarole, and Radiccio.
- Solanaceae – Include Tomatoes, Peppers, and Eggplant.
Perennial vegetables such as Asparagus, Rhubarb and Artichokes should not be rotated and therefore should be planted separately. The rest (most vegetables are hardy or semi-hardy annuals) should be rotated every year on a four year plan (so that the same family of vegetables is not planted in the same location within four years).