MARCH 2017 – In part one of our edible gardening series, we answered common questions about planting and growing fruit trees.
This time we’re focusing on planting a vegetable garden! There are so many options for you to choose from when deciding to start a vegetable garden here in San Diego. From potatoes and broccoli, to peas, beans and onions, there’s no shortage of opportunities for you to grow healthy, nutrient-rich vegetables right in your own back yard.
Hopefully, the answers to these five common questions will help get your new vegetable garden off to a good start.
Q. How Much Space Do I Need for a Vegetable Garden?
A. While vegetables don’t take up as much vertical space as fruit trees, they do need their own plot of land to grow. The type of vegetable(s) you choose will depend on how much space you have available to plant. Tomatoes, for example (yes, we know they’re really a fruit, but we plant them with our vegetables), grow up and out and need an outside support system for the vine. Brussels sprouts bud on a stalk that can grow up to three feet tall. Bush beans grow on, well, a bush! These vegetables can all be grown together and don’t necessarily need to be two or three feet apart from each other, but they do need sufficient room to grow and flourish. Carrots, onions, and radishes, on the other hand, are vegetable roots that grow directly in the ground and can be planted in rows just a few inches from each other.
Q. Where should I plant my vegetable garden?
A. This ties in directly with the amount of space you have available to plant. As with fruit trees, your vegetables will need direct sunlight to grow. Try to find a spot that isn’t covered by shade from trees or the house for the majority of daylight hours. While a potted tomato plant, or potted potatoes, can essentially be maneuvered around your garden as needed, it’s best to place them where they can be left alone in direct sunlight.
Q. How deep should vegetables be planted?
A. If you’re choosing to pot your vegetables, be sure to have a large enough container for the roots to grow. Potatoes, onions, and tomatoes will do well as potted plants. For other vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, beans or peas, it’s best to grow them in a plot of soil in the ground. A good rule of thumb for planting seeds is to plant 1 ½” to 2” deep into the soil. Here’s a tip: literally use your thumb to create a hole for the seed and then cover it with soil.
Q. How often should vegetables be watered?
A. Regular watering is a necessity and it is best to water them in the morning (along with your fruit trees). It is possible, however, to over water your vegetable garden. This can lead to water-logged, rotten, or inedible vegetables instead of healthy vegetables dense in nutrients, which is the whole point of growing your own, right? When purchasing seeds for your garden, be sure to read the planting and watering instructions, and check with a nursery worker if you have any questions.
Q. How soon can I harvest my vegetables?
A. Vegetable crops will typically be ready within 45 – 60 days of planting. When tomatoes turn bright red and pull easily off the vine, you know they’re ready to be harvested and eaten. For root vegetables, you’ll need to pull one up as a tester. Carrots, for example, should be crisp and have a sweet taste to them. If your tester isn’t ready, wait a couple days before testing another one.
There can be a temptation to wait to harvest vegetables, like zucchini, to see how large they will grow. This, however, can lead to a tasteless vegetable. It’s best to harvest zucchini when they’re about nine inches long. For vegetables like broccoli or cauliflower, what you eat is the flower head. If they aren’t harvested in time, the flowers will bloom!
With these edible gardening tips, you should have a delicious vegetable garden in no time. We hope you’ve enjoyed learning about edible gardening and would love to hear about your success!
Want to know more?
If you have any questions, we’d be happy to help! Feel free to call us at 619-579-9151 or visit our contact page. We look forward to hearing from you soon!