7 Tips for Starting Your Own Vegetable Garden

Early January. Though it’s the dead of winter, many of us are dreaming about our summer vegetable gardens. The seed catalogs have begun to appear in the mailbox. Kris and I received eight of them today:

 

Photo from http://www.getrichslowly.org

Images of summer…

It might seem crazy to start thinking about a vegetable garden in January. It’s cold outside! But believe it or not, now is the perfect time to begin preparing for a successful autumn harvest. Over the next month, we’ll plan our seed order. By the end of February, our seeds will be started indoors. All of this leads to those exciting days at the end of April when we can move our plants to the vegetable garden!

Our garden
Kris and I own about two-thirds of an acre in Portland, Oregon. Since moving into this house in June 2004, we’ve been gradually building a garden of fruit, berries, and vegetables. In 2008, we conducted a year-long experiment. We tracked our garden expenses (in money and time) and also noted our “profit” from the harvest.

Last month I posted detailed results for the project. Here’s a summary:

We spent $318.43 and 60 hours working in our garden during 2008.
We harvested $606.97 worth of produce, including $225.74 in berries, $294.59 in vegetables, and $66.63 in fruit.

For every dollar we spent on the garden, we harvested $1.91 worth of food. We hope to improve on that significantly in 2009. Last week Kris wrote about the winners and losers from our garden last year. Today I’m sharing seven lessons we’ve learned after many years of gardening.

Tip#1: Plan in advance
Plan your garden today to ensure summer success. Decide what you’d like to grow. How much space can you devote to the project? How much time are you willing to spend? Answering these questions will help you to determine your priorities.

For those with small spaces (or small ambitions), a container garden is an excellent choice. Containers can also supplement a traditional garden, providing a handy pot of herbs just outside the kitchen door, an experimental area for kids to grow their own produce, and allowing tender plants to be moved according to the season. This winter, we have a container-based indoor herb garden:

Photo from http://www.getrichslowly.org

Herbs grown from left-over seeds

Others might consider building a raised bed to use for square-foot gardening. Kris and I did this at our first house and met with great success. Square-foot gardening allows you to maximize food production in a minimum of space.

Read full article here: http://www.getrichslowly.org/blog/2009/01/11/7-tips-for-starting-your-own-vegetable-garden/

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