The following instructions are for planting a garden patch that will be approximately ten by twenty feet. It will have 1/2 row each of cucumbers, summer squash, zucchini, bell peppers, green beans, sweet peas, okra, tomatoes, and two half-rows of corn. Corn should be planted 4 in a row on opposite rows.
When planning your own garden, decide how much space there will be in your patch and what you’re going to plant. Get an idea of how many rows you’ll have and what you will plant in each row. Sketching it out on paper helps to calculate what you’ll be planting and where.
It’s best to start the seeds in small containers about 3 to 4 weeks before planting. The planting season for your area should be on the back of the seed packs. You can wait and plant them directly into the ground but if you get a late frost you’ll lose your garden. Paper cups are fine for starting your seeds. Always do more than you need to make sure they all sprout.
We’ll start with corn. Fill a cup halfway with garden soil. Push a kernel into it (about ¼ inch) then add a little soil over it. Sprinkle with water and press down lightly. Do the same with all the other seeds making 3 or 4 extras of each. Water each cup about twice a week.
Creating the garden patch
Measure off a patch of ground then remove the grass and weeds. There are special tools for this task but a shovel and a strong back is all that is needed. Push the shovel into the grass and lift. Take hold of the grass, shake the excess dirt off, and throw the grass into a container for disposal. Once the grass and weeds have been removed and it’s free of rocks, other debris, and raked smooth, you’ll have a patch that is ready to be prepared for planting.
Soil differs from place to place so unless your soil is dark, moist, and clumps together when squeezed, you’ll need to add garden soil which can be purchased at Walmart or any home store. Ten to fifteen 50lb bags will fill a 10 by 20 foot patch, depending upon the condition of the soil. If the soil is fair then use only half. If the soil is sandy, use it all.
If the soil is enriched during the rest of the year with compost or other treatments you will need very little added garden soil or perhaps none at all for the next planting season.
Empty each bag of soil and spread it over the entire patch, breaking up any clumps as you go. The garden soil should feed the garden for up to 3 months so no need to add anything else. Measure off 4 rows and hill them up leaving room to walk between each row.
When the threat of frost is over, take your seedlings to the garden area and place them on the soil where you want them to go about 10 to 12 inches apart. Okra should be planted 12 to 15 inches apart. Once you have them all in place, start planting.
Make a hole on the row about an inch deeper than the seedling and add a little water. Carefully turn the cup upside down and gently coax it out or cut the cup off, being careful not to injure the seedling. Put it into the hole and fill around it with soil. You will want to have extra soil for this purpose. Water the newly-planted seedling and gently press the soil down around it. Do this to all of the seedlings until they’re all out.
Caring for the garden
The garden should be watered about twice a week unless it rains. Try to water the garden close to the roots and avoid soaking the plants which can sometimes lead to a fungus problem in certain areas. The best way is to take the sprayer off the hose and walk along each row watering the roots at a low pressure flow to avoid disturbing the soil.
When cucumbers, green beans, tomatoes, and peas grow to about 10 to 12 inches they should be secured by stakes. Drive stakes into the ground close to the plants until they’re nice and steady. Tie every foot of growth to the stake. This can be done with twine or yarn. Weeds can invade quickly so snatch them up as soon as you see them.
Harvest at will when vegetables reach desired size/ripeness. It’s best to keep picking the vegetables which will allow them to produce more. Be careful not to damage the plants when harvesting. Your garden should give you up to three months or more of fresh, homegrown vegetables.
Now that you have a little experience in gardening you can begin to plan your next garden and perhaps extend the garden area to include more variety. Gardening can be very rewarding. It’s a good way to get plenty of exercise, fresh air, and sunshine as well as provide your family with truly good produce.