How to Grow Vegetables - Part 2
Before you you start to plant your seeds there is one futher consideration - the layout of your
beds. The standard practice has been to plant your crops in rows some eighteen inches apart or just wide enough to
allow you room to walk between the rows.
This means that every time you walk on the land your soil is being slightly
compacted. The alternative is to create a raised or wide bed. In this method you divide
your site into a number of beds about four feet wide with a narrow path in between. This allows you to reach the
center of the bed from either side without treading on the soil.
If you grow the same crop year after year in the same bed, there is an increased risk of disease
infecting your crops. To minimise the risk you should avoid planting crops of the same family in the same soil for
three seasons. You can achieve this by having a four bed rotation and moving the crops on to the next bed each
When choosing seeds it makes sense to choose disease resistant varieties where these are available.
Saving your own seed is not always a good idea for at least two reasons. Firstly because seed saved from plants
grown from hybrid seed will not come true, and secondly your home saved seed may have become cross-pollinated from
other crops grown on your land.
In the warmer parts of the United States most seeds can be sown directly into the beds. You will
have to cultivate the soil to a fine tilth and then sow the seeds at the depth recommended on the packet. In cooler
areas, or where you want early crops, seeds will need to be sown in trays or flats indoors. Overhead light, either
natural or artificial using flourescent tubes, and warmth is needed to ensure satisfactory germination and growth.
Before they can be planted out in the beds, the seedlings have to be hardened off by placing them outside for
longer periods each day so that they become accustomed to the outdoor temperature.
Once your crops are all planted out in the beds they will require regular watering, weeding and
fertilizing. On average your plants will need one inch of water a week. If this is not provided by rainfall, you
will have to make up the difference. It is better to give the garden a good soaking once a week rather than
applying small amounts of water every other day. The best time to water is early in the morning. Hoe your beds
regularly to control the weeds and leave the soil in a loose, friable condition to absorb later rainfall. Advice on
fertilizing will be included with the information on individual crops.