(Editor's Note: This article was originally published on November 11, 2008. Your comments are welcome, but please be aware that authors of previously published articles may not be able to promptly respond to new questions or comments.)
SIZE AND PLACEMENT
So, you are ready to grow vegetables. Where do you put the garden? The only place that most veggies will grow is in full sun, and on a slope facing the south or east is the best. Why? Because these areas will heat up first in the Spring and they will give you the most time for growing vegetables. The size for your garden will depend on space and other limiting factors. On the whole, the smallest garden I myself would mess with would be 10 feet by 10 feet. Twenty feet by fifty feet is a great size, or 10 by 20. Both will give a good feeling, proportions, and that over-all garden look. Right next to my vegetable garden are my berry and herb gardens that need the full sun and tree free areas, too.
In the first early starts of spring it is time to plant onions, lettuce, cabbage, potatoes, radishes, peas, and a whole world of greens. These plants will take some frost and cold temperatures without many problems. Most of these plants will be long gone before you add the next group into the garden. The early veggies, with the exception of the onions and maybe some cabbage, do not like the hot weather of summer and need to be removed in favor of plants that like the warmest weather. Plant a solid row of each and let them grow. The peas will need some staking and the tomato cages you will need in the summer are perfect for this use.
After the frosts are over and the soil is nice and warm to the touch, it is time to get in there and plant the veggies that will be with you through out the summer. It is time to plant squash in two week intervals for a whole summer of fun. Eggplant - plant one pair per family member. Plant. on average, four tomato plants per family member and a few extras for giving. Plant peppers - remember to add extras for family and friends. It is time to plant turnips, carrots, and other summer root crops and, to save space, I plant mine in between the other plants. If you are going to mess with corn, now is the time to plant it. You will need to plant at least three to four rows with a foot between rows. You will need at least an area 8 by 10 just for corn. . For most home gardens corn is not really an option unless you have a large area to give over to the corn. Okra needs to be planted now and can be planted in with the squash. If cared for, it will give you a full summer of wonderful produce. Lastly, this is the time for bean crops. These can be grown on your corn plant if you are growing pole beans and that doubles your space.
Now is the time to plant sweet potatoes - make sure your soil is loose before you plant this wonderful and easy to grow plant. Melons and Cantaloupes need to be planted now. They must be planted in hills with one to two seedlings left in each hill. Melons need deep rich soil and will need extra water to do their best. Plan on a 5 feet by 5 feet area for each hill. You can grow them in the same area with the corn, even if you have planted the beans there. Watch these melons grow fast, bloom fast, and then take their time to ripen.
It's time to plant pumpkins. Plant them in hills just like the melons and giving them the same 5 by 5 feet space. Do not plant them near your squash if you have many squash bugs in your garden or your pumpkins may not have time to grow into the wonderful fall fun you are hoping for. Now is also the time to plant your fall tomatoes in the shadows of the fading spring tomatoes. This will give you a second wind of the tomatoes you love and enjoy.
Now is the time to plant cabbage and root crops like turnips. These will grow and prosper in the late fall and early winter months. This is also the time to plant many types of garlic that will stay in the garden until they are ready next spring. Planting beans or peas into the garden will not give you vegetables to eat but they will be great to till into the garden before spring to enrich the soil for your next years crops!
Move things around in the garden. Do not ever plant the same things in the same areas each year. Pests and plant illnesses may still be in the soil and will quickly grow on the new plants this year. Keep up with a rotation schedule. Using a four year cycle works really well. Most of all keep notes. No one else will grow a garden like you - ever, so keep notes and you will learn the times that are best to plant your plants in your garden!
Thank you to fishon4lb for this image.