The very first of several decisions that must be made when you commit to a vegetable garden is the choice of what kind of veggies you want to raise and in what quantity. Once you have narrowed your choices down to a select few, you must decide how you plan to use the crops once they come in. A vegetable garden can potentially mean not only having yard space for planting, but storage space, preservation equipment and the ability to put in a high degree of maintenance depending on the vegetables you grow.
Get to know your geographic region’s average date for the first frost of the year. The length of the growing season for your vegetables will depend on the conditions of your local climate. Choosing the right vegetable to plant means you must take into consideration how well those plants will respond to extreme temperatures if their growing season conflicts with the date of that first frost.
The United States is divided into hardiness zones that take into account a multitude of common and average climactic conditions. Look for information related to how your choice of vegetable will correspond to your region’s hardiness zone on the back of a packet of seeds. If your questions are not answered by this information, consult the hardiness zone references listed in the Resources section at the bottom of this page.
Rainfall timing and amounts play a significant role in the process of planting a vegetable garden. An overabundance of rainfall in a short period of time can result in your seeds washing away. Consistent rainfall over a long period can reduce pollination of vegetables like tomatoes, eggplant and beans.
Look for the area of your yard that receives the most intense degree of sunlight. Although specific vegetables vary in regard to the amount of light they require, a general rule of thumb is that the production of sugar by vegetables rises in relation to the intensity of the light they receive.
High yields of your vegetable crops are directly related to how you use the space in your garden. Replant warm weather vegetables like summer squash after you have harvested cool weather crops like spinach. Planting quick growing vegetables alongside slow growing vegetables results in the shorter term crop maturing before the slow growing crop gets large enough to cause too much shade.
Rotating crops is an effective way to balance the nutrients in your soil between those vegetables that are heavy feeders and those that are light feeders. Plant a vegetable like peas that provide nitrogen to the soil and then the next year plant crops that thrive on nitrogen rich soil like cabbage.