Vegetables are suddenly the biggest thing going in the world of gardening. The last year has spotlighted the reemergence of the "Victory Garden" as a factor in American life. This was helped along, of course, by the First Lady's efforts to establish a vegetable garden on the White House lawn, but there were many other factors that contributed to its renewed popularity.
Chief among these may have been an economy that made it important for people to save money where they could and growing some of what you eat can certainly help with that. Also, there is the heightened awareness of the need to eat healthier and, again, vegetables are a big part of any healthy-eating plan.
Growing vegetables is a relatively easy kind of gardening, but for someone who has never done it, the prospect can be a bit daunting. The National Gardening Association suggests there are five rules that can help the uninitiated get started.
1. Site: Choose a site that is close to your house or to a walkway so that it will be convenient for you to visit your garden every day. Tucking a vegetable garden away in some hidden corner of your yard is a blueprint for failure. Such a garden is too easily overlooked and forgotten. A vegetable garden needs to be weeded, watered and harvested on a regular basis and convenient placement makes that much easier. Related to the selection of a site is the requirement to have that site close to a water source to make the needed watering easier.
2. Sun: Also related to site selection, you will need to make sure that your site gets 3-6 hours of sun daily, and preferably closer to the upper end of that time range. You need to take into consideration any shade that may be cast by buildings and other structures and by trees.
3. Soil: Actually, this probably should be listed first, because everything springs from the quality of the soil. A healthy soil with plenty of organic matter incorporated and proper drainage is absolutely essential to growing a successful vegetable garden.
4. Selection: This may seem self-evident, but grow what you like to eat. If you don't like turnips or broccoli, don't try to grow those crops. Grow carrots and snow peas instead - that is, if you like carrots and snow peas. Growing things that you enjoy eating will just make your gardening a much more rewarding experience. It also helps to grow a variety of flowers and herbs along with your vegetables. Mixing them all together in the garden makes for a more beautiful garden and will make time spent there more pleasant. Also, it can be helpful in controlling garden pests.
5. Size: Finally - and, again, this could really be number 1 - start small. Planting more than you have the time and energy to take care of is a formula for frustration and failure. Remember, you can always make your garden bigger if you find that you have underestimated. You can even grow many vegetables in containers, if you live in an apartment or your space is limited. Just get the biggest containers that you can manage. Your vegetables will appreciate the room to stretch.
There are few things that are more satisfying in gardening than growing food for yourself and your family. It really is true that nothing tastes better than a vegetable you have grown yourself.
Here at mid-winter is a good time to start planning your veggie garden. The weather is still too inclement to do very much outside, but some preliminary planning can make everything go a lot smoother when you finally can get outside to get your garden started. That time will arrive sooner than you think, so time to get planning so that then you can get planting!