As you probably know, the coronavirus has made home improvements very popular; vegetable gardening can be part of those improvements.
In my consultations, you would think that I see a lot of beautiful vegetable gardens. But you would be wrong. One issue is that vegetable gardeners don’t call landscape designers; they are two different areas of interest. The second issue is that many people build beautiful and expensive gardens and then get discouraged when things don’t go right and give up. I must admit of all the plants that you can grow, vegetables are the most difficult.
The following is a list of my thoughts on the subject that may be of help.
First, start small. Vegetable gardens constructed from decorative block, backfilled with high grade garden soil, properly irrigated and with some sun and cold protection can get expensive. Furthermore, if you have never done much vegetable gardening, you may not enjoy the problems that will be encountered. So don’t throw a lot of money at it until you know if you really like gardening. Look around the property and you may find unused pots that can get you started. Horse troughs from the local farm store are a great option.
Second, set up an automatic irrigation system off of your faucet. These simple systems can be purchased for about $75 including the timer, tubing and emitters. Go to YouTube for the instructions.
I know you think it’ll be fun to water it yourself, but vacations are fun too, and depending on someone else to take care of your much-loved plants while you’re away is asking for a problem.
Third, start with the easy stuff. Everyone loves tomatoes, but they are about as tough as it gets when it comes to success. Every insect and disease known to man attacks tomatoes. Yes, you will probably get a few tomatoes, but watching the grasshoppers, tomato horn worms, spider mites, thrips, leaf hoppers, curly top viruses and blight devastate your crop can be demoralizing. If you do get tomatoes, then you battle the rabbits, ground squirrels and mice for a clean bite. The good news is that some of the easiest vegetables to grow are grown in the fall. Try these easy-to-grow crops this fall and be sure to get the kids involved. We need more gardeners and a few less computer nerds.
All of the plants on the following list can be planted from seed in early September and most can take a little shade. Read the back of the packet and get varieties with the shortest “seed to harvest” time.
Try spinach, arugula, radishes, bok choy, kale and lettuce this fall. If that doesn’t work, forget about tomatoes!
Mike Dooley is the designer and owner of Dooley Landscape Designs. Visit his website at www.dooleylandscapedesigns.com. He can be reached at 505-400-0257.