Amid the coronavirus pandemic, many people are concerned about food security. Under normal circumstances, the Clatsop County Master Gardeners Association would be partnering with host agencies to offer the Seed to Supper program to increase food security.
As a substitute for in-person programming, we’re offering a series of posts on starting a vegetable garden. This science-based information comes from the Seed to Supper program, developed by the Oregon Food Bank. During these difficult times, the Oregon Food Bank welcomes your donations.
After deciding which vegetables you’ll grow and where you’ll grow them, you’re ready to map your garden. A basic sketch of your available space will help you remember important things such as the way the sun moves across your yard and the location of your water source.
Your basic garden sketch should show the size of your space; the location of your water source; any existing fences, buildings, trees, or walkways that you’ll need to work around; your possible planting area; and the orientation of your garden to the sun (N, S, E, W).
In pencil (so you can adjust as needed), show where you intend to plant each vegetable. Be sure to consider the “footprint” of your plants at maturity and the height of your plants at maturity. Position taller plants toward the north so they don’t cast shade on shorter plants.
Thinking about your plants in terms of families will help with crop rotation in years to come. Crop rotation helps to prevent disease, pest problems, and loss of nutrients from the soil. Avoid planting crops from the same family in the same place (or container) two years in a row. When possible, wait four or more years before putting a family back in the same spot.
Some common vegetable family groups include brassicas (cabbage, brussels sprouts, kale, cauliflower), allium (onions, leeks), root vegetables (carrots, beets, radishes), nightshade (tomatoes, potatoes), legumes (beans, peas), and greens (lettuce, chard, arugula).
A garden journal or notebook is a good place to keep your garden map. Label it with the year so you can use it to plan crop rotations next year. In your garden journal, you can also include the planting dates for everything you plant.
Next up: Healthy Soil