Gardening Ideas Series – Planning Vegetable Garden

This is part four of our Gardening Ideas Series. To see all the past ideas, be sure to see our Gardening Section.

If you haven’t started your seeds indoors yet, now is the time to do it. Unless you plan to either plant your seeds directly into the ground or buy plants, you may be pushing the clock slightly. Certain vegetables absolutely need to be started inside first, which I hope you have been following our series and already done.

While the weather might not be perfect for getting things planted, it’s a perfect time to start some major planning. Depending on what you are growing you’ll need to plan accordingly. Vegetables that grow on vines such as zucchini, squash, and pumpkin are going to need lots of space to grow. Corn needs to be planted in rows, or else it will not pollinate correctly. Other types of vegetables are going to need lots of sun, so you can’t plant them in a shady spot.

There’s so many variables it’s just not possible for me to list them all. However, I can give you some examples of what we are doing this year.

Since we are extending our garden, I’ve now got room to grow both tomatoes, peppers, and pumpkins. A few weeks ago I had to make a choice though – I wanted to plant sweet corn, but realized it just wouldn’t be possible. So I opted for the pumpkins, armed with my new knowledge of how to keep the squash bugs at bay. Because of the pumpkins, we’ll have quite a few flowers to plant. Some will get planted directly into the ground, while others we’ve already started indoors.

Imagine if you will a long strip of a garden that extends from one edge of our property to the garage. It’s about 25-30 feet long, but only about 5 feed wide. This actually works to our advantage though, since there’s only room for two or three rows of veggies. (Easy to maintain, you see). About half of it (what we are calling the “new part”) is reserved for the pumpkins and it’s flowers.

Starting from the “old part” from the edge of our property, we’ll be planting tomatoes. Most likely 6 plants, all big boys, planted in two rows. You’ll want to leave a little room for them to grow, because tomatoes (even with cages, which you DO need) are going to fan out a bit. Green peppers and jalapenos will be next, four of each, planted in 4 rows (they are smaller, and don’t fan out like the tomatoes do). Two rows of green peppers in the back, two rows of jalapenos in the front.

Next was going to come the strawberries, but they aren’t growing. Probably best, because we really didn’t have room for them anyway. Instead I’ll be planting Calendula right along the edge of the “old” and “new”. These are flowers are part of the collection meant to attract the fly that will eat those nasty squash bugs. They are getting an early start right now, and will be transplanted come May.

For a few weeks they’ll be a large gap between our plants, since it will take awhile for the pumpkins to take over and the next flower to come up. Alyssum will be planted in a scattered fashion on the bed of the “new section” since it’s a good “flower bed floor” covering anyway. It too is meant to keep the squash bugs out. They will get planting directly into the ground within the next week or so (I was informed even if we do have some below freezing nights it probably won’t hurt them, so I’ll get it started in mid-April).

On the edges of the “new section”, they’ll be several other flowers. Nasturtium on the front edge, Daisies on the back edge, and Zinnia on the final edge near the garage. All three will be planted directly into the ground in late April or early May. They’ll all have at least a month to grow before the pumpkin plants (started indoors over a week ago) are transplanted, which won’t be until the first of June.

The reason we’re holding off on planting the pumpkins are for two reasons. One, we want to make sure we have nice strong plants before we expose them to the bugs. Two, we were informed that planting them later will prevent the first round of bugs for finding them. Since we had them last year, there’s a good chance they are still in our garden (even though we are getting it tilled again this year). Planting the flowers early we hope will attract the flies, eat the bugs, and rid us of the problem completely. Fingers crossed, over course.

One last protection for our pumpkins are the herbs we’ll be planting near the garden. They got a head start as well, and only half will get planted outside (we’re leaving the rest inside to cook with). They won’t actually be in the garden, but near it by the garage and our tiger lilies.

That’s all for our vegetable garden! To see more on flower gardens and our plans, see our previous section on flower seeds.

Be sure to see Nature Hills Nursery, Inc. for the seeds mentioned here, plus, plants, bulbs, and other gardening supplies at good prices!

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