Growing your own vegetables is a wonderful thing. You get to choose which seeds to sow, spend time outside, put in some hard work and then reap the rewards all summer and fall. In spite of this, many new gardeners find themselves planting too much or too little of different vegetables. There's much appeal to going to the store to pick out seeds. It almost seems like magic: these little seed packets will turn into baskets full of food, all for just a few dollars. Follow these tips to learn how to grow what you want the first time around so you won't find yourself begging neighbors to take all those extra zucchinis off your hands. What do you like to eat? Experimenting with new recipes is great. And so is the temptation when you see seed packets for an exotic vegetable you've never tried before. But before you dedicate a whole row of your garden to hybrid turnips, think about whether or not you'll really eat all of that. Instead, plant the veggies you and your family love to eat consistently. Before you start planting, think carefully about the amount of space you have in your garden (I usually draw a diagram and label the rows). This is going to involve some necessary research on your part. If you love summer squash, you may think you need a whole row. Squash plants, however, tend to creep outwards vigorously, producing a ton of fruit and also encroaching on other rows if you're not careful. Similarly, you may find that you simply don't have enough room for some vegetables. We all love the first sweet corn of the season, but most of us don't have enough room in our backyard gardens to feasibly grow corn. Plan for next year Once you've tilled the soil, planted the seeds, and taken care of your plants all spring, you may think the only thing left to do is harvest the vegetables. This is a crucial time, however, to think about next year. What did you have too much of? Too little? Did you find that some vegetables simply wouldn't grow in your garden? (I tried twice, with little luck, to plant pole beans but found that they just didn't like my soil.) Take note of these findings for next year. If one part of your garden receives more sunlight, try rotating crops to see if you get different results. Don't worry if your garden isn't perfect the first time around. In fact, it's best to just let go of that image of the perfect garden. Tending a garden isn't another chore to cause stress in your life, it's a simple and relaxing way to get outside more.
Want to enjoy fresh salads of lettuces, spinach and other leafy greens picked from your garden this winter? Home gardeners, even in northern states, can grow these and other cold-hardy vegetables outdoors throughout the winter under inexpensive row covers draped over a simple hoop framework. This information from the Mother Nature Network will help you get gardening no matter how low the temperatures goes. The basics Row covers are made of lightweight fabrics available in a variety of cold-protection strengths. Double or even triple layering may be needed in some areas for continual winter harvest. Rain and sun still reach the plants because the fabric is permeable, although sunlight will be reduced by the degree of cold-protection of the fabric and the layers used. Be careful if you use plastic. It doesn’t allow in air or water and may cause overheating. Benefits The primary benefit of row covers is they create a greenhouse effect that traps heat and raises day and night soil temperatures, which extends the growing season. Row covers also Keep soil moist Prevent wind damage Control insects Deter foraging animals Install quickly and are economical Allow for easy harvesting