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How To Plan Ahead For A Bountiful Vegetable Garden

Canadian Pacific/Flickr Creative Commons

It may still be cold outside, but it’s never too early to make plans for a vegetable garden. Creating a blueprint, choosing what kinds of vegetables to plant and deciding on the size of the garden can all be done before the spring thaw to ensure the best produce.

Choosing a garden’s size depends on the money and time you want to invest. A quarter-acre garden will feed a family of four for a year, but that’s a lot of work. If you’re new to veggie gardening, start with a 10 square feet area or confine your vegetables to containers. Herbs, peppers, tomatoes and lettuce mixes can all be grown this way.   

Pick the vegetables you want to plant. Seed catalogs or garden books are a great resource to guide how much space to allot for each type of veggie. Space hogs like potatoes or squash may not fit into a smaller plot.

What elevation you are at will determine what plants will thrive. Mountain gardeners don’t have enough heat days to reliably grow peppers or tomatoes; but peas, salad greens and broccoli do quite well at higher elevations. Root crops like carrots, onions, garlic and parsnips also do well in cooler climates.   

Draw out the garden on paper to figure out how many vegetable varieties can fit in your allotted space. It’s best to orient the rows north to south to maximize the sunlight throughout the garden. Plant taller veggies that need a trellis on the north side of the garden so they don’t shade the other plants. 

Keep in mind that pathways or stepping stones are a critical part of the garden. Because veggies produce fruit at different times, you’ll need regular access to harvest them without disturbing the other plants.  

Planning the garden now will produce a more productive plot throughout the warmer months and allow regular access to healthy vegetables throughout the entire season. 

Tom has been offering garden advice on KUNC for almost two decades. During that time he has been the wholesale sales manager at Ft. Collins Nursery, Inc. Since January of 2005 he has been the owner and operator of Throgmorton Plant Management, LLC., a landscape installation and maintenance company as well as a horticultural consulting firm. He lives in northern Ft. Collins with his wife and two kids.
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