Planning Your Veggie Garden: How Much Should You Plant?

264-wheelbarrow-of-veggies-closeupYour seed catalogs are well-thumbed by now. You have all your favorite varieties flagged, along with some new offerings you’re eager to try. After months of indoor weather, the gardening urge is looming large. It’s tempting to go overboard, and order every seed listed. Making a vegetable garden plan will help keep your cravings in proportion to your needs.

Even if you’re not much of a planner, some simple steps now will pay off in fewer problems and less work as the season progresses. I’ll start at the beginning: how big a garden should you grow? Cultivating more veggies than you can use increases your expenses, your work load, and your need for compost, water, and pest control.

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Taking Stock of the Garden

The gardening season is over, at least for us here in Colorado. Our September snowfall put an early end to beans,  tomatoes, and summer squash. Hardier veggies (and, unfortunately, most weeds) survived, but haven’t grown since the weather turned cool. Carrots are waiting under their mulch layer for winter harvesting; garlic has been harvested and next year’s crop replanted.

With much shoveling and sneezing (I’m allergic to chickens), the broken-down, soiled straw in the chicken coop has been distributed over my garden beds and dug in, adding nutrients and organic matter to enrich my soil. A thicker layer of newer straw mulch keeps my earthworms happy and protects against insect pests that are waiting lay their eggs underground.

It’s finally time to lay down the shovel, step back and take stock. How did the garden do this year? What did we have too much of (not zucchini, for once)? What were we lacking? How did the new varieties I trialed compare to my tried-and-true favorites? What should I do the same next year? What should I change?

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Eating Your Landscape

Rhubarb surrounded by dianthus in a 4x4 ft bedCrunchy, greenish tomatoes at $2.75/lb. Wilted, road-weary lettuce and limp green beans. We’re supposed to eat more veggies, but the offerings at the local supermarket aren’t very appealing. You’d like to grow some of your own food but you don’t have room for a vegetable garden. What can you do?

Try edible landscaping! While it’s traditional to sequester our food plants apart from the ornamentals, many fruit and vegetable plants are very attractive. Let fruits and vegetables take center stage in your garden, as well as in your kitchen.

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