Plan Garden--Then Plant

You have decided to grow a garden. So, where do you start?

First, make sure you have room for a garden. You won't need a lot of space if you are a beginner with an average-size family. Your garden may only be 20 feet by 30 feet or even less.

Whatever size garden you have, plan it around four basic requirements. First, your garden needs sunlight. All vegetables need some sun and most vegetables must have full sun to achieve the highest yields of quality produce. Unless you are concentrating on leaf or bulb crops, such as broccoli, collards, spinach or onions, your crops need every available ray of sunshine.

Next, consider the location of your garden. Locate your garden close to the house so that watching it will not be a chore. A garden does not demand constant care and attention, but it does much better if you visit it once a day. If you do not check your garden regularly, insects, diseases or lack of water can destroy it in a short time.

Next, consider the soil. Ideally the soil should be fertile and easy to till with just the right texture - a loose, well-drained, loamy soil. If your soil does not meet these specifications, don't panic. You can work it into shape without breaking your back.

Avoid areas heavily infested with Johnson grass, nutgrass and other weeds. Don't put your garden on a rocky ledge or in a poorly-drained area. These things make gardening more difficult.

Next, consider the availability of water. Place your garden near a spigot or where it can be easily reached with a garden hose. In a typical year, watering is necessary about once a week.

Now you are ready for the planning stage. The first step is to select the vegetables you want to grow. Plant vegetables you like to eat, and avoid those that your family doesn't usually buy at the local grocery store. With few exceptions, you can grow almost any vegetable you enjoy.

After you have selected your vegetables, make a rough diagram of your garden. Indicate the number of rows and different vegetables you wish to plant. Also, show the desired location of each crop, the number of plants or feet of rows you want to plant and the optimum time to plant each crop.