When I was growing up in the suburbs of Southern California, it wasn’t that popular to have vegetable gardens. My friends came over and thought I lived on a farm because of our six vegetable boxes in the backyard. During the summer, we had a cornucopia of vegetables; eggplants, corn, beans, carrots, cucumbers, beets, zucchinis, and my favorite: the tomato. We usually had one whole box dedicated to tomatoes and basil (the perfect combination).
Nothing beats homegrown vegetables, but tomatoes are on an entirely different level. After growing up with homegrown tomatoes and tasting a grocery store tomato when I went off to college, I finally understood why people hate tomatoes. They had no flavor! What was there to love?
So start loving tomatoes and plant a vegetable garden!
Starting a vegetable garden is simple, and you can do it in whatever space you have.
The vegetables can be grown directly in the ground of your existing garden, but there are numerous benefits to the raised vegetable planter. Number one, back strain is reduced while tending to your garden. Two, there is a longer grow period because the soil will warm earlier in the spring and dry faster in the cool season. And three, it is easier to overcome bad soil, by just adding nutrient rich topsoil to your boxes.
The simplest and most common vegetable box is the typical raised redwood planter. Most people tend to build them 12 to 18 inches tall. Be sure to never use pressure treated wood for vegetable boxes, as the chemicals from it will seep into the soil and your food.
If you want to upgrade, a stone veneer vegetable box is elegant and can match any style or hardscape. This one pictured above is more rustic, but if you used a different stone veneer, it could look more modern like the one below.
When designing your vegetable garden, be sure to keep a few things in mind.
– Keep your beds narrow. Four feet is a good maximum width. You want to be able to reach across the bed and get to the middle without straining from either end.
– Pick a space in your garden that will get 6-8 hours of sunlight a day. If you are planting something like peppers, that need less sun or indirect sun in certain climates, you can add a shade cloth over the bed.
– Spacing the beds is important. You want to have enough room to kneel and plant or harvest the garden, or maneuver a wheelbarrow.
Source: Terra Ferma Landscapes
When you are ready to plant your vegetable gardens, it is great to plan out what to put where. Some plants are best friends and some just don’t get along with one another. A great resource to have is a companion planting guide. There are numerous versions in books and on the internet, but I found this one to be well organized. Benefits of companion planting include shelter, support and decoying pests.
Another important tip is to rotate your crops. Certain vegetables use more of one nutrient or mineral in the soil than others. To keep this in check and balanced it is important to rotate your crops every year. A lot of farmers will even leave one box fallow or plant a nitrogen fixing crop like soy beans to allow the soil to rejuvenate. If you do not practice crop rotation, you run the risk of depleting your topsoil and turning it into dust.
So grab a shovel and a pack of tomatoes, you are ready to go!
Have any questions? Let us know and we would be happy to help you out!