Planting A Vegetable Garden

Written by Sarah Provost
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Planting a vegetable garden is a very satisfying enterprise. Two of the most important elements to keep in mind for successful gardening are timing and preparation. In both cases, thinking well ahead will give you superior results with less effort.

Preparing the soil before planting is best done in the fall. Clean up all vegetable matter from an established garden, or break and turn the ground where you intend to plant in the spring. Add soil conditioners (such as lime) if your soil is acidic, then spread a light layer of compost or peat moss and top it with two to three inches of organic mulch. In the spring, dig the mulch into the soil and add more conditioner if needed.

When to Plant Your Crops

Some vegetables, such as lettuce, cabbage and peas, do best in cool weather. In areas with four seasons, these should be planted as soon as the ground can be worked. In warmer climates, they are winter crops.

Most other plants should not be sown outdoors until the danger of heavy frost is past. Heat lovers such as tomatoes, peppers and eggplant benefit from a black plastic mulch that helps heat up the soil. For an earlier crop, most vegetables can be started indoors, usually four to six weeks before the last frost. Follow the directions on the seed packets for depth and specific time for sowing. Be sure to keep germinating seeds and seedlings evenly moist and between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Give seedlings plenty of sunlight or use a grow light. About a week before planting outdoors, begin "hardening off" by putting the seedlings outside in a protected place during the day and bringing them in at night.

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