One-I totally got this and my garden is going to be amazing
Two-I am in WAY over my head.
If you happen to fall into the second category, don’t you worry your pretty little head. I will have you perfecting your garden in no time. The next step to achieving the garden of your dreams is planting. We will answer the when, where and how of planting your garden.
WHEN to start Planting
I don’t have an exact science per se for planting, but I have a few traditions that I follow.
When I was a kid, we always planted our garden on Mother’s Day, or at the very least, Mother’s Day weekend.
I followed that mantra for a few years and still try to get certain things out on that day. Mostly because of tradition I think, but I have learned that spacing my plantings by even just a few days, will make harvest not quite as overwhelming. Also, it cuts the preservation task down so that it is not as daunting.
One very key thing to keep in mind when planting is your climate. I live in Central Indiana and mother nature can wreak havoc on my garden planning and execution. For me, it is critical to make sure that we have had our last frost. No sense in spending money and time on plants for Jack Frost to come by and destroy my efforts.
WHERE to plant
There is a lot of information on this step in my Dream Garden Design article, but here are a few important pieces. As a child, we always planted the same things in the exact same spot every year. I have learned that it is necessary to rotate the crops around to avoid diseases in your soil and allow replenishment of nutrients. Not all vegetables need the same nutrients from the soil.
For example, green beans are legumes. Legumes are considered nitrogen fixing crops because they have the ability to turn atmospherically available ammonia into a nitrogen that they can use. When they are harvested, the nodules on their roots are left in the soil. This nitrogen dissolves into the soil. Now, any high nitrogen demanding plant can be planted there the subsequent year, because the green beans have helped to replenish the nitrogen levels of that soil. See, there is real science behind your average veggie gardening.
Companion planting is another piece of this WHERE puzzle. This is the method of planting vegetables next to other vegetables that are believed to compliment each other. There is more detail and even a handy little chart in my other article mentioned above.
HOW to plant vegetables
This can be as complicated or as simple as you want to make it. In order to get things in a straight row, I use two stakes connected by a string to stretch across the garden in the direction I want my rows. This keeps me from having curvy and zig-zaggy lines. Some things are planted individually, some are planted in rows and others require a mound of dirt. Let’s go over those now.
Things like tomatoes, peppers and cabbage are planted in their own little hole. Dig a hole about 4-6” deep for each individual plant. Place the plant in the hole, cover the roots with the dirt you dug out and water the plant. Tomatoes will need a tomato cage at some point, so it may be best to put that over the plant now. They help to support the plant and fruit as it grows tall.
Some examples of vegetables that should be planted in rows: corn, peas, green beans and onions. Using my stake and string method, use a hoe to dig a trench for your row vegetables. The trench should be about 4-6” deep. Grab a handful of seeds and sprinkle them down the length of your trench. Green beans, peas and corn are planted this way. Try to get the seeds about ½” apart, but don’t worry about using a ruler and going along one seed at a time. Onions have to be individually placed in the trench with the root part of the bulb facing down and a 6” space between bulbs.
Zucchini and cucumbers are the most common mound vegetables. My mom always used to say, “They don’t like wet feet.” What she meant by this was that these plants are sensitive to excess water on their roots. Using your hoe, pull the dirt into a pile that is about 12-18” tall. Pat the top of your mound down flat and poke four holes in the top with your finger. Place 2 seeds in each hole and cover them. If you are planting zucchini or cucumber plants instead of seeds, only make two holes and place two like plants in the top of one mound. PS: Do you know how hard it is to capture the mound of dirt on photo? It completely blends in with its surroundings!
Be sure you have watered the plants and seeds that you have just spent your time planting. Don’t drown them, but they need a good drink of water to get a healthy start. Now, you wait. Be sure to keep a close eye on your plants because local wildlife will love you for the snack. Pull weeds as they pop up to keep it under control. You will spend the next month or so waiting for the fruits of your labor to begin to appear. Congratulations!