Spring is the time to begin planting the home vegetable garden after the danger of frost has passed around April 15 in our area. Many types of vegetables thrive in our area. A home vegetable garden can produce an abundant harvest if it is 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 vegetable plants’ growth. To avoid shading out the lower growing plants, plant the taller ones, such as corn and pole beans on trellises, on the garden’s north side.
The garden should be no larger than what you can adequately maintain. It should be located close enough to a water source for the convenient application of water. 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 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 the rate of 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 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 rootball, carefully firm the soil around them, and then apply water.
Beans, squash, peas, melons, radishes, and others can be planted as seeds. Refer to the seed pack’s directions 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.
In the absence of rainfall, water the garden thoroughly at least once a week. 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 spaced far enough apart 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 as well as causing the plants to reduce or stop production.
Vegetable gardening can be enjoyable while supplying a bountiful supply of fresh, healthy vegetables. Careful planning, knowledge of site conditions, and plant preferences will help ensure the garden’s success.
If you would like to learn more about vegetable gardening, UGA Extension Gwinnett has a program on home vegetable gardens. The class will be offered virtually via Zoom Conferencing on two dates: April 13 at 6 p.m. and April 19 at noon.
If interested, please contact the Extension office to register.