A vegetable garden will return your time and effort tenfold. Nothing is more rewarding than preparing a meal with ripe, fresh, sun-warmed vegetables from your own garden. Plus, you’ll save money on groceries, know exactly what you are consuming, and the kids will enjoy helping out in the garden too!
With a little planning, even the novice gardener can produce a delicious bounty that will last from early summer right into September. Not only will your home grown vegetables be tastier than what you can buy at the grocery store, but taking care of your garden gets you all outdoors and into the sunshine for some exercise.
How To Plan A Vegetable Garden
Start by making a list of the foods and veggies your family likes. Consider the area you have to plant in – how much space do you have and how much sun does the area get? Aim for a location that gets an average of 6 hours of sunlight throughout the day. To avoid potential bacterial contamination, make the sure the area is sheltered from roaming pets or wild animals and away from other waste sources, such as septic and garbage can storage. Convenience to a water source, the kitchen or the grill is also important to think about.
With your location selected, narrow your plant list by prioritizing for the space allowances needed for your favorites. Remember, some vegetable plants will produce repeatedly, while others are single crop. Expand or get better sun by making use of containers for plants like tomatoes, strawberries, peppers, cucumber, squash, or eggplant. Think about also planting some fresh herbs to complement all those recipes you have in mind! Oregano, chives, basil, parsley, and dill are some excellent kitchen staples and they’re easy to grow in the ground or in a pot.
If you are patient and ambitious and you want to start your plants from seed, your local garden center will carry the best selections for your growing zone. Keep in mind, while seeds are most cost effective, you will enjoy your harvest sooner if you start with plants from your local garden center. If you grow from seed, research how early you will need to start your seeds and when they will produce. While some seeds are safe to plant directly in your garden now, many may need a couple more weeks. The UNH Cooperative Extension fact sheet, When To Plant Your Vegetable Garden based on direct seeding in the garden. With a little strategy, you can also stagger plantings so crops will be ready at different times.
Vegetable plants will be available at your local garden center by mid-May, but you will find most are recommended for planting in the ground after the last frost occurs. Memorial Day is considered the safe date for most New England zones.
Mark Your Calendar for Plant Something NH Weekend at Studley’s from June 1st – June 2nd where you’ll find lots of herb and vegetable plants to choose from. Visit studleys.com for details.
Whether you start from seed or with established plants, we recommend you start your vegetable garden with a modest selection. It can be easy to get caught up in the excitement and end up with more than you have space or time to care for and eat!
Between now and Memorial Day, use this time to prepare the ground for your vegetable garden. We like these instructions from The Old Farmer’s Almanac for easy DIY raised beds and a basic organic soil mix.
Planting Annuals for Color
Planting annuals is a great way to create constant color in your garden, especially between perennial plant bloom times. The choice of colors, foliage and textures are endless and most annuals will deliver repeat blooms from spring, right into early fall. Annuals can be planted directly in the ground and many varieties will thrive in pots or window boxes. However, you’ll need to consider selections that work best for your particular soil conditions, sun or shade exposure, and color combinations.
At Studley’s we grow and nurture many annuals in our greenhouse all winter long and to bring you the most diverse selection. They are carefully selected varieties for robust growth and superb colors. Add some flair to your garden or patio with a selection of colorful tropical plants.
Of course, we are also big fans of the time-tested, old fashioned favorites that you probably know from mom’s or grandma’s garden. These are our top 5 picks:
We encourage you to be generous with annual plantings and to get creative – mix and match or create waves of a single color combination for huge impact!
Visit Studley’s 2018 Inventory and use our Plant Finder to start planning your garden today!
My Pro Tip: Plant annual flowers on the borders of your vegetable garden! We carry several varieties of plants like Cosmos, Zinnia, Marigold, and Snapdragon that not only add visual interest, but they attract helpful insects that control pests and pollinate crops. Nasturtium is also an edible flower, that brings a subtle spicy flavor to cooked vegetables, salads, pasta dishes, or stir-fry.