For The New Vegetable Gardener

For The New Vegetable Gardener

I spoke to a man today who was planning on planting a vegetable garden in 2018 for the first time. He wondered what he should be thinking about now that might help him jumpstart this project. “What does the new vegetable grower need to know?” What a great question…the information applies not only to the inexperienced gardener, but to others as well. So for this person and anyone else who wants to grow vegetables this summer, here are some tips and resources.

  1. Sunshine is the number one requirement for great vegetables. Don’t place your garden back near the edge of the woods or in other locations that are shaded. You want your garden to be getting at least 6 hours of dead-on sun that includes the noon hour.
  2. If you’ve never had a vegetable garden before, don’t start with a raised bed. Make your first garden at ground level and amend the native soil with a good amount of compost or composted manure, dug into the ground about 10 to 18 inches deep. Why not a raised bed? Because if you decide you don’t like growing veggies it’s easy to turn that area back into lawn. (Although since the soil is amended the turf will be twice as high and healthy as the rest of the lawn!) If you’ve put in a raised bed it’s harder to “go back.” But if you’re growing in the ground, and love the fact that you’re picking the freshest food on earth, you can always build a raised bed right over that spot in the future.
  3. This winter, start thinking about what you want to grow. Start with this question: “What do I want to eat? What vegetables do I love?” Grow what you love.
  4. We have many resources here on our Country Garden website for vegetable gardeners. Check out the Informational Handouts page where there are several helpful, printable handouts for both new and experienced vegetable gardeners. We also have a Best For Cape Cod page that includes vegetables gardening.
  5. Come to our Basics of Vegetable Gardening Seminar on March 11th at 1 PM.  I’ll answer your question and you’ll leave with your notes and our handouts that will get you off on the right foot.

    Did you know that the Cape Cod Extension Service has a demonstration vegetable garden at the Barnstable Fair Grounds on Route 151? The master gardeners maintain this garden, and you can see examples of good varieties for Cape Cod in raised beds. There are master gardeners on duty during the annual fair in July to answer your questions. NOTE: Although there are some advantages to raised beds, vegetables grow well in amended native soil too. Come in March to hear all about raised beds and more so you can decide what’s right for you.

    This broccoli is ready to pick! What new veggie gardeners need to know is that after you cut the main heads on a broccoli plant, you can harvest side shoots for the rest of the summer and fall. Watch for these mini-heads and cut them off as they appear. The more you cut the more they produce! Spray broccoli with Captain Jacks (spinosad) to prevent damage from the cabbage lopper larvae.

    If you’re growing vegetables, you also need herbs. This is the herb garden at the fairgrounds a few years ago. Basil, chives, coriander, parsley and thyme are pictured here. 

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