As you already know, gardening offers you lots of benefits over and beyond the joy of picking your own veggies or looking at the glorious colors of your flower garden. Gardening offers exercise, lots of fresh air, mental therapy and the savings you reap when you pick veggies from your own garden. This week, I am going to discuss some tips on getting your garden ready for planting and offer some tips on what to plant.
When planning a vegetable garden, it is important to choose a location that is well drained and near your structure. The location needs to be in an area where you have a readily available source of water. The garden should also be in an area where the plants will receive at least five hours of sunlight. Areas with too much shade or sun all day long will cause problems with the growth of your plants. Too little sun can lead to fungus diseases and low crop yields. Too much sun can cause burning of the plants and a reduced crop yield. Remember that you should not plant your garden in the same location year after year. The soil will get depleted of vital nutrients so it is best to rotate your locations each year.
In Florida, our soil is very sandy so it is essential to add organic nutrients to the soil. If you have a compost pile, use the organic matter from it and spread it throughout the area you plant to plant in. You can also buy pre-mixed top soils that contain organic material to mix throughout your garden area.
It is always a good idea to test the pH value of your soil. These meters can be purchased at many home and garden centers. The ph value of your soil should lie somewhere between 5.6 and 7.0. If the pH of your soil is low, add some lime to your soil before planting. A pH that is too high is actually difficult to change but adding the organic matter will relax it a bit.
Once your garden is plowed, composted and checked for pH, it's time to get started. It is always a good idea to get some good quality vegetable fertilizer and all-purpose insect spray designed for vegetables and fruits. You will need both in the not too distant future.
Now that your plot is ready, it's time to populate it with seeds or liners. You might want to start with some of your old favorites such as tomatoes, carrots, radishes or peppers. These are some of the easier plants to grow, especially if you are going to start from seed. You might want to take the challenge, however, and try some more challenging choices such as squash, watermelon, southern peas or eggplant.
It is important to remember that if you live in a location that does not allow you to plant in the yard such as an apartment, you can always resort to planting your seeds in large containers with excellent results. This has the added benefit of being able to move your garden in the event of severe weather events.
In the coming weeks I will address some specific plants such as tomatoes, lettuce and other garden varieties.
Joe Zelenak has more than 30 years experience in gardening and landscape. Send e-mails to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his website www.hometowngarden.com.