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Aug 102012

KaleStart planning your vegetable garden by answering these simple questions.

How much time do I have to dedicate toward vegetable gardening?

If you can dedicate only a few minutes a day, plan a small garden that contains two or three of your favorite vegetables. Alternately, if gardening is a life-sustaining activity, the scale of production may be quite large and your plans should be based on food storage potential.

What do I like to eat?

Make plans to produce only crops that you and your family like and will take the effort to prepare and consume.

How much room do I have to dedicate to a vegetable garden?

If space is limiting, plant only the crops that produce large quantities in a small area, such as tomatoes or cucumbers.

Where should I locate my garden?

Ideally, you will want to select a spot in the yard that receives full sunlight, is within a warm microclimate (next to a south-facing fence or wall), is not frost prone (low swale), is away from prevailing wind patterns, is at least 20’ from large trees and shrubs, is conveniently close to your house, and has access to a good source of irrigation water.

Garden layoutWhat type of vegetable production system should I use?

If you want to produce vegetables on a large scale, you might want to use the traditional victory garden design (straight, wide rows). If space is limited it will be better to use raised beds (intensively managed blocks) or containers (pot production on a porch or patio).

What recurring annual planning activities are necessary?

There is also a little planning that must be done every year in order to maximize crop yield and quality.

Choose the best vegetable varieties

In the short-season climates typical of much of Idaho, choosing the right varieties is a critical key to success. Information about the best varieties can be obtained from experienced gardeners, Master Gardener volunteers, local nurserymen, and county educators.

Place and rotate the crops

Crop rotation, the practice of changing the location of crops to avoid disease and nutritional problems, is essential to maintaining plant health. It is also necessary to place crops where they can compete with surrounding vegetation.

To learn more, download and read this University of Idaho publication: Planning an Idaho Vegetable Garden.

 August 10, 2012