Veggie Tales

This broccoli raab start will turn into six plants.

This broccoli raab start will turn into six plants.

You know it’s spring when Alex from Green Girl Gardens shows up with veggie and plant starts. What makes them special is that they’re organic, locally grown, and hardened off. Here in Victoria we can grow a wide range of plants, so how do you choose?

Choose plants that are productive. Corn is not very prodigious unless you have a lot of room; salad greens, kale, chard and the like can thrive in small spaces and be harvested over several weeks if you “cut and come again.” Vegetables that may yield more than one crop per season are beans, beets, carrots, cabbage, kohlrabi, lettuce, radishes, rutabagas, spinach, and turnips.

Start small. If you live in an apartment you can plant in containers of various shapes & sizes. If you have the room, my favorite is a raised bed, 4 feet by 8 feet, made from 2 x 10 boards reinforced with short 4 x 4 posts in the corners. You can fasten the frame together with deck screws, and fill it with topsoil and compost. Raising the bed keeps the soil warmer than planting directly in the ground, and allows easier access to growing plants. You now have 8 square feet  to farm, so it’s easy to lay out rows and space plants according to their needs.

Do you have enough sun exposure? Vegetables love the sun. They need at least 6 hours of full sun every day, and preferably 8. Be sure that taller plants like peas and tomatoes don’t shade lower growing plants.

Placement is everything. Avoid planting too near a tree, which will steal nutrients and shade the garden. In addition, a garden too close to the house will help to discourage wild animals from nibbling away your potential harvest.

Read up on the subject. Two solid references that come to mind are Sunset’s Western Garden Book–a good reference to what will and won’t grow in our climate–and Carolyn Herriot’s Zero-Mile Diet books (and recipes).

Here's the reward: Enjoying the fruits (or veggies) of your labor.

Here’s the reward: Enjoying the fruits (or veggies) of your labor.

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