Well a new gardening year is fast approaching and it is time to plan for this years vegetable garden. If you are like me you always seem to end up with a lot more seeds than you have time or room to plant. Of course you can always justify this by saying it is always better to have more than to not have enough and run out. I use this all the time but when you realize that you have a half of a display rack of seeds left over it is probably time to take planning your yearly vegetable patch just a wee bit more seriously. So here are some tips and ideas to help you with this years vegetable garden.
To get started the right way we should look at last years planting plan some people call it a plot plan. If you do not have one do not panic just make a simple drawing of what was planted where last year. This is really important because we want to rotate our crops from year to year. The reason for rotating the crops is that by not planting the same type of plants in the same area every year we help reduce the build up of pests and diseases.
Now that you have last years information it is time to plan this years garden. Before you do anything else draw a sketch of the garden. It does not have to be to scale but you should include the following information the space between the rows, the space between the plants, the type of plant, and the variety. Now you know how much room you have to work with.
The last thing to do before you put in your plant and seed orders is the final step in the planning process. This is probably the most important part of the whole garden plan but unfortunately the one that gets overlooked the most. You needs to sit down and determine who will be looking after the garden. You will also have to decide who will pick the vegetables and process the vegetables. What will you do with the extra vegetables can them, freeze them, or give them away. These are the decisions you should make so that you can determine what you have time to grow. Be realistic and be sure you calculate your available time and space accurately so that you are not overbuying.
Once your garden is planted it might be a good idea to use the heavy mulch method especially if you are tending a big plot. The idea is that once you plant an area you should mulch around the plants with several layers of newspaper then cover this with 3″ to 4″ of wood chips. By covering the non planted areas of the garden in this fashion not only are you conserving moisture but are helping to prevent soil erosion. The most important parts are that in the fall you can till in your mulch to help build the soil and you will be thankful during the season that this will eliminate the vast majority of weeds that you will have to pull.
Have fun and enjoy planning this years vegetable garden.