Veggielicious: Now is the time to plan your garden

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By Bryce Roberts

Soon you’ll be receiving seed catalogs for the 2011 vegetable-growing season. While listening to the cold wind blow outside, what a comfort it is to think about spring and summer and planning your garden.

To make the most of your garden, every aspiring gardener should follow seven steps to have a successful gardening season.
1. Plan your garden on paper before you begin.
2. Select a good gardening site that has full sun for at least eight hours each day, relatively level, well-drained, close to a water source and not shaded.
3. Prepare the soil properly and add fertilizer and lime according to soil-test recommendations.
4. Plan only as large a garden as you can easily maintain. Beginning gardeners often overplant, and then they fail because they cannot keep up with the tasks required. You’ll have to control weeds and pests, apply water when needed and harvest on time. Vegetables harvested at their peak are tasty, but when left on the plants too long, the flavor is simply not the best.
5. Grow vegetables that will produce the maximum amount of food in the space available.
6. Plant during the correct season for the crop. Choose varieties recommended for your area.
7. Harvest vegetables at their proper stage of maturity. Store them promptly and properly if you do not use them immediately.

A well-planned and properly kept garden should produce 600 to 700 pounds of produce per 1,000 square feet and may include many different crops.

Finally, the closer the vegetable garden is to your back door, the more you will use it. You can see when your crops are at their peaks and can take maximum advantage of their freshness. Also, keeping up with the planting, weeding, watering and pest control will be easier.

For more guidance on planning your 2011 vegetable garden, contact your Spencer County Cooperative Extension or download the publication, “Home Vegetable Gardening in Kentucky” (http://www.ca.uky.edu/agc/pubs/id/id128/id128.pdf) from the Web.

Feel free to contact me at your Spencer County Cooperative Extension Service at 477-2217 or you can email me at broberts@uky.edu. You can visit the Spencer County Extension Services’ website at www.spencerextension.com.

Educational programs of the Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of race, color, age, sex, religion, disability, or national origin.