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Now is an excellent time to begin planting vegetable gardens. A variety of ones can produce an abundant harvest if planted and maintained correctly.
The garden needs to be planted in an area that receives full sun. Do not plant the garden near or beneath trees and shrubs since their shade and competition for nutrients and water will inhibit the growth of the vegetable plants. To avoid shading out the lower growing plants, plant the taller ones, such as corn and pole beans, on trellises, on the north side of the garden. The garden should be no larger than what you adequately can maintain. It should be close enough to a water source for convenient water application. Supplemental watering will be necessary to keep the plants in optimum condition during dry periods.
The vegetable garden needs to have soil that is moist and well-drained. Organic soil amendments, such as peat moss, composted manure, topsoil, and compost, should be added to help increase the aeration and drainage of the soil. The ideal pH for most vegetables is 6.0 to 6.5. Consider having your soil tested through Extension for pH and soil nutrient levels to get the proper fertilization and liming recommendations. If you have not had your soil tested, apply a complete fertilizer with a formulation such as 8-8-8 or 10-10-10 at 20 pounds per thousand square feet and then mix it into the soil.
After the ground is prepared and fertilized, you can begin planting. Vegetables can be planted in two ways: by transplants and by seeds. Transplants are small young plants seeded in containers indoors or in greenhouses four to eight weeks earlier.
Tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and cabbages are often planted as transplants. Plant them as deep as the top of the root ball, carefully firm the soil around them, and apply water.
Beans, squash, peas, melons, radishes, and others can be planted as seeds. Refer to the directions on the seed pack on how deep to plant, then cover with the necessary amount of soil and firm the soil around the seed by pressing the soil down lightly with a garden tool. Water the seeds thoroughly after planting. For information on planting times and spacing, please refer to the following UGA Extension Publication Vegetable Gardening in Georgia: https:// tinyurl.com/32umzw3p.
The garden should be watered thoroughly at least once a week in the absence of rainfall. The water needs to penetrate deeply enough into the soil to encourage the growth of strong roots. Apply the water directly to the roots and keep it off the foliage. Do so early in the morning to allow the plants time to dry before the evening, which helps reduce the likelihood of diseases.Plant the vegetables in rows that are spaced far enough to allow you to harvest them and maintain the garden. Harvest the vegetables as soon as they are ripe. Leaving vegetables, such as beans, okra, squash, and cucumbers, on the plant too long will cause them to become unpalatable and cause the plants to reduce or stop production.
Vegetable gardening can be enjoyable while supplying bountiful fresh, healthy vegetables. Careful planning, knowledge of site conditions, and plant preferences will help ensure the garden’s success. If you never planted one, try doing so this season.
Timothy Daly is an Agricultural and Natural Resource Extension Agent with UGA Extension Henry. He may be contacted by phone at 770-288-8421 or by e-mail at [email protected]
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