Now is the Time to Plan This Year’s Vegetable Garden
Take an inventory of all stored and saved seeds. Out-of-date seeds may still grow, but germination usually decreases by about 10-15% each year. Be sure your seeds are properly stored in a cool, dry, and dark location. More information on seeds for the garden is available in Seed For The Garden, a Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE) publication. Other publications with useful information on seeds include Plant Propagation from Seed (VCE), Define your terms! Hybrid, heirloom, GMO (University of Maryland Extension) and An Introduction to Seed Saving for the Home Gardener (University of Maine Extension).
Now also is the time to schedule and prepare for a meeting with your garden group. Topics you may want to discuss include: your garden site, what to plant and where, seeds or transplants, water availability, condition of garden tools and soil fertility. Read more about types of vegetable gardens you might consider, and explore more detailed planning advice.
Begin to plan by starting to sketch out the shape of your garden on a piece of paper and drafting ideas of what you might like to plant. Make sure to keep in mind this general rule: RIGHT PLANT – RIGHT PLACE. Following this rule can help reduce your time and effort and increase your success in the garden. Use plants that grow successfully in your area under our climate conditions. This useful calendar on when to plant (and harvest) a range of vegetables in this area is one of the most used resources on the MGNV website. Other similar resources are also available (English version, Spanish version).
Other guidelines to keep in mind as you design this year’s garden:
- If you gardened last year, plan on rotating your crops to lessen the possibility of depleting the soil’s nutrients, as well as the return of disease and pests. Read more about crop rotation in here.
- Companion planting helps minimize pest and disease issues. For example, beans tend to grow better when planted with carrots, cabbage, and potatoes, but don’t tend to do as well with plants from the onion family. Most fragrant herbs make great companion plants and may also deter some insect pests. More on companion planting is available here and here.
The single most important factor in your garden’s success will be overall soil quality. Testing your soil for available nutrients, composition, and drainage will be discussed next month.