If you have never had a vegetable garden or your experience vegetable gardening was a long time ago, you may be unsure about how to start and which vegetables to try.
Here are a few ideas that may help your garden flourish:
Vegetable gardens need at least six hours of sun. The more sun the garden gets, the more vegetable choices you have and the faster the vegetables will grow. If you are near or below six hours of sun, concentrate on leafy greens (lettuce, kale, chard, etc.), beets, and carrots.
If possible, create your garden where it is easily visible from the house. After planting, there are lots of things that can be done in short blocks of time like weeding out plant competitors and thinning out your crop to give each plant the space to thrive. You are more likely to do it if it is nearby.
Start small with your first garden. A 10 foot by 10 foot garden can grow quite a bit. You could easily have a couple of tomato plants (one cherry type and one regular type), some peppers, rows for greens like lettuce, chard and/or kale, a pole bean trellis on the north side of the garden, maybe beets and/or carrots, and a zucchini. It probably is too small for sweet corn but that can come next year if the garden gets bigger.
If your prospective garden is now grass, you can either turn it all under with a shovel or first remove the grass and then dig up the soil underneath. It is generally better to remove the sod which you can pile into the odd corner and cover with black plastic. It will compost over the summer and can be added back to the garden next year. But either technique will work. If the ground seems to wet to dig, it probably is. Wait until lit dries out a bit.
Add agricultural lime at the rate 15 pounds or so per 100 square feet. Add fertilizer to provide nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium at the rate recommended on the bag. Nitrogen is the key element that determines the application rate. The product can be organic or conventional.
What to grow
Get your peppers and tomatoes started indoors. Beans can be started from seed (get the trellis ready if growing pole green beans) indoors as can kale, lettuce, chard, and beet. Plant carrots and beets by making a shallow furrow in your soil, plant the carrots, and then cover the seed with a thin topping of potting mix. They will germinate much better. Same with beets.
Carrots can be planted in blocks with “mini” rows 4 inches apart and leaving, after thinning, one carrot per 3 inches within the rows. Carrots will also need to be thinned once they are growing to about 1 plant for every three inches of row. Same for beets. Kale will need wider row spacing as will lettuce and chard (6+ inches between plants). Lettuce can be purchased as transplants. It is usually best to transplant in the evening, so plants have a chance to get established overnight before sun the next morning. Potatoes can be planted about 12 inches apart in rows 24 inches apart. They can take up a lot of space.
Water and weed
Water and weed as needed. If deer are wandering through your yard, they like to eat almost everything you like. So, find a way to fence them out with a gate that you can open and close as needed. They generally won’t jump into a fenced area as small as 10 x 10 but no promises.
For more information, go on-line to get Growing Your Own, an Oregon State University publication: catalog.extension.oregonstate.edu/em9027/html. This is one excellent publication.
Scappoose Bay Watershed Council’s Native Plant Sale Saturday
Join the Watershed Council at their Spring Native Plant Sale Saturday, April 10, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the SBWC nursery, located behind Scappoose High School. Look for signs – go east on SE High School Way and turn into the parking lot between the high school and the school ball field areas. This is their semi-annual event to get you ready for spring and summer planting. They have
lots of new plants at great prices – all native to our area. Staff and volunteers are available to help chose plants suggest gardening ideas and provide information on establishing and maintaining native vegetation. For more in-formation see www.scappoosebay-wc.org/nursery-sales. This event allows for pre-purchase by April 3 and pick-up the day of the sale. There will be limited walk-in to the nursery on the sale day itself.
If you have questions on any of these topics or other home garden and/or farm questions, please contact Chip Bubl, Oregon State University Extension office in St. Helens at 503-397-3462 or at email@example.com.
The Oregon State University Extension office in Columbia County publishes a monthly newsletter on gardening and farming topics (called County Living) written/edited by yours truly. All you need to do is ask for it and it will be mailed or emailed to you. Call 503-397-3462 to be put on the list. Alternatively, you can find it on the web at extension.oregonstate.edu/columbia and click on newsletters.
Many Extension publications available online
Are you putting up salsa, saving seeds, or thinking about planting grapes? OSU has a large number of its publications available for free download. Just go to catalog.extension.oregonstate.edu. Click on publications and start exploring.
The Extension Service offers its programs and materials equally to all people.
Contact information for the Extension office
Oregon State University Extension Service – Columbia County
- Address: 505 N. Columbia River Highway St. Helens, OR 97051
- Phone: 503-397-3462
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org