Vegetable Gardening Site Selection

Due to most garden soil not being perfect growing, your vegetable gardening site selection is rather critical to what vegetables and how well they grow. Gardening soil is made up of sand, silt and some clay. Soil drainage, structure and fertility are some of the reasons you want to select your site carefully.


PHOTO CREDITS: flickr.com/photos/southernfoodwaysalliance/2593250285

Drainage

Good drainage is crucial to keep your plants from drowning. Good root growth and avoiding diseased plants and root rot depends upon how well your soil drains.

When you have soil that is heavy in clay, there will be problems with drainage as they dry out slowly and can be difficult to cultivate. Water will dry out very slowly when it contains large amounts of clay.

The other end of spectrum is very sandy soil that won’t hold water for long at all. Between these two is the best soil.

It matters more on how well your soil drains then on actual composition.  Having soil with lots of organic matter helps it to drain better. Avoid any spot where water actually pools on top of the ground. This is a plant disaster just waiting to happen.

More plants die from overwatering then under-watering per year than all other causes of plant deaths.

Sunlight Needs

In order to grow well and produce yields that are large and tasty, many hours of sunlight are needed. At least 6 hours is the minimum sunlight or plant growth will be inhibited some. 8 – 10 hours of sunlight per day is best.

Vegetable plants do not compete well with trees or building that produce shade over them. Avoid large trees, walls and any building that provide too much shade in your garden area. If you live in the North, try to put your garden on the south side so it receives as much sun as possible.

Exposure to Pesticide

Avoid any site that has been exposed to inorganic pesticides, herbicides or insecticides for at least one year until after use of this has been stopped. Also try to find out what your neighbors use on their lawns as the over-spray may come onto your side of the fence and contaminate your vegetables.

Also these ingredients may leech over when it rains. Any areas near highways, railroad tracks or any other right-of-ways may get a dose of pesticides without your knowledge and should be avoided.

Organic Matter Matters

It is easy to improve your garden soil by using organic matter. Whether it has lots of sand or clay, adding organic matter will help tremendously. This helps soil drain if it has too much clay.

A good vegetable gardening site selection will take into consideration on whether you have access to grass clippings, dry leaves or paper products to help enrich your garden soil. If you have ready access to any cow or horse manure, can you get it to your vegetable garden?

Watering Your Garden

Having access to a readily available water supply is more of a necessity then a convenience. Having to drag water hoses all over the place will not only be a pain but you will put off watering quite often.

Having below ground pipes that run to your vegetable garden is ideal. I run regular garden water hoses to a site I’m considering using for awhile and plan on where to put underground pipes before making the commitment to dig a trench and bury water pipes.

Once I think the garden site is good and a route is planned, I dig a trench, lay pipe adding a water timer and soaker hoses. This works out pretty well as watering my vegetable garden is almost on automatic from then on out.

Tool Storage

Have a garden shed close to your vegetable garden makes things so much easier. If you can go out, grab a hoe and start weeding, you’ll most likely do it and enjoy it somewhat. But having to find your hoe and dig it out of a corner filled with other tools, means your weeding will get behind.

Buy a bag or use a 5 gallon container for your other small tools and keep them in it. Taking one bag with all your small gardening tools out to your garden keeps you from having to trudge back and forth find the tools you need to work your garden.

Tools

Buy the best quality tools you can. Sure they will cost more but they will work better and last longer. I’ve bought tons of ‘cheap’ tools and am always frustrated. Buying more expensive and better tools the last few years has really made gardening more enjoyable and easier.

There has been a marked improvement in the pride when I’m gardening and I am certain my vegetables are growing bigger and taste better.

For the occasional garden, rent the larger tools like rotary tillers to turn over your garden soil. Or better yet, use raised beds, square foot gardening, lasagna or even container gardening and not every till again.

The last few years, research has shown that tilling can actually hurt more than help in most cases. New ground that is severely compacted should be tilled but otherwise you shouldn’t till ground and kill the worms and bacteria that live in garden soil.

Soil Testing

The majority of people who plant vegetables do not get a soil test performed. And this is a shame as you can improve your soil so much better when you know what how the garden soil is actually composed of and what it lacks.

Most garden centers sell soil test kits and though these are not as good as a soil test from your local university agriculture center, they will do in most cases. If you think your soil might be compromised with any sort of chemical, you are highly encouraged to get a professional soil test.
Contact your local county extension agent or college and they can perform these tests or recommend a competent company that can.

Conclusion

Vegetable gardening site selection for the most part can be as easy as sitting outside and just observing where the grass or weeds grow best. If grass and weeds grow easily in one spot, then vegetables should love it.

Taking a little time to pick the best spot you have available will not only make growing your family’s vegetables easy but more fun. And having fun is for the most part what home grown vegetable gardening is about. Sure you want to grow the best and tasty vegetables but it should be fun also.

About the author: Just-John has been gardening for over 35 years and sometimes actually grows something worth eating. Check here for more information on vegetable gardening.

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