Plant A Garden
Gardens yield tasty and healthful produce three out of four seasons a year. Examples of the many types of produce you can grow in your home or community garden include: fresh sweet corn, tomatoes, potatoes, sweet potatoes, lima beans, green beans, watermelons, pumpkins, cantaloupes, peppers, carrots, squash, zucchini, broccoli, herbs, as well as ornamental plantings including sunflowers, pumpkins and gourds.
How much will a garden cost? The annual cost to maintain a garden is approximately $100-$200. This includes costs for seed, fertilizer, and crop protection products. But the fresh produce yielded from gardens help to offset grocery costs and help increase overall savings on money that would otherwise be spent on purchasing food.
Gardening organizations and Cooperative Extension offices can assist you with getting back into gardening. In addition to educational resources and workshops, you may gain access to garden plots, seeds, plants, tools and plowing services.
Tips For a Successful Garden
- Select a well-drained site that receives direct sunlight. You can overcome the lack of a well-drained site through the use of raised beds.
- Conduct a soil fertility test by taking random soil samples from the site and having them analyzed by your Cooperative Extension office or garden organization. Approximately one pint of soil is adequate for a soil test.
- Prepare a good quality seed bed by tilling soil until no soil particles exceed a one-half inch diameter. Soil tillage should only occur when conditions are dry enough to allow breakup of soil.
- Plan for your family’s tastes, nutritional needs, and availability of space. Some plants, like watermelons, consume a large surface area whereas a properly staked tomato utilizes more height than surface area.
- Plant seeds and transplants under appropriate weather conditions for their growing behaviors. For example, broccoli, onions, and potatoes are early spring crops. Tomato transplants should not be in the garden until early May, and summer squash can be planted after the risk of last frost.
- Make additional plantings to keep the garden producing throughout the summer. By planting two or three yellow squash every three weeks through August 1, a family should have fresh squash available from early June through October.
- Consider conserving finances by sharing seed packets and larger quantities of transplants with others in your community. Store leftover seed in a cool, dry place to preserve germination.