The Five S’s of Vegetable Gardening Success
Part of the Vegetable Gardening For Dummies Cheat Sheet
You can break down the essential elements of a successful vegetable garden into five words, all starting with the letter S. Here’s a foolproof formula:
Selection: Grow what you like to eat! While the easiest vegetables to grow are bush beans, lettuce, tomatoes, and squash, grow vegetables that you know you and your family will enjoy. That being said, grow a variety of vegetables and try a few new veggies each year. You never know who may acquire a taste for Brussels sprouts!
Site: Locate your garden near a walkway, next to the house, or someplace where you pass it each day. If it’s out of sight, it’s out of mind. By visiting the garden for ten minutes each day, you can keep it in good shape. Make sure that your site also has easy access to a water source and is relatively flat.
Size: Start small. A 3-foot-x-6-foot raised bed and a few containers are plenty to get started in a small area. If you have the room, try a 10-foot-x-10-foot garden. It’s better to have success with a small garden the first year, and then graduate into something larger the next year. (For example, if you want to produce food for storing and sharing, a 20-foot-x-30-foot plot is a great size. You can produce an abundance of different vegetables and still keep the plot looking good.)
Soil: The best garden has fertile, well-drained soil amended with compost annually. Building raised beds allows the soil to drain faster and warm more quickly in spring. (Raised beds are kind of like wide, flat-topped rows. They’re usually at least 2 feet wide and raised at least 6 inches high, but any planting area that’s raised above the surrounding ground level is a raised bed.) Plus, you won’t be compacting the soil by stepping on it, so your plants will grow stronger.
Sun: Most vegetables grow best with at least six hours of direct sun a day. If you have only three to four hours a day, try growing leafy green vegetables, such as lettuce, mesclun greens, and Swiss chard, or root crops like carrots, beets, and radishes. You can also consider planting a movable garden. Plant crops in containers and move them to the sunniest spots in your yard throughout the year.