The cooler season is approaching, and September is the perfect time to begin planning and planting a winter edible garden. Vegetable gardens can start from either seeds or transplants. It is usually recommended to purchase fresh seeds rather than using any leftovers from a previous year. While transplants can be grown at home, it is possible to purchase containers of vegetables from local nurseries.
Steps to starting your edible garden:
The garden needs to be located in an area away from trees and shrubs because the plantings will compete for nutrients and water. The soil should be free of grass and weeds. Areas that have approximately 8 hours of daily sun exposure are recommended.
This will be based on the vegetables selected. Seeds and transplants should be planted with room for mature growth. Check the packaging for the recommended guidelines on spacing.
Vegetable selection for winter gardens:
- Greens include spinach, lettuce, and kale
- Root vegetables include onions and carrots
- Cabbage family include broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower
Soil and Irrigation:
- Soil should be prepared with organic matter or fertilizers to insure there is proper nutrient balance prior to planting. If fertilizing is needed after seeds and transplants are installed, then care should be taken to maintain a proper distance between the fertilizer and the plantings. Vegetables and their roots can be damaged from fertilizer burn if the fertilizer is too close, or too concentrated.
- Watering needs will fluctuate depending on the plant, size, and soil type. In general, soil should be kept moist but not wet. Watering should penetrate to the roots. Vegetables with deeper roots will require more moisture than those with shallow roots.
Weeds and pest:
- Control weed growth by cultivating the soil. This removes the weeds and breaks up the soil around the plant.
- Mulch can be used to loosely cover the surface and help control weed growth.
- Be on the look out for pests on or around the plants. If possible, purchase disease resistant varieties of vegetables.
- Avoid high temperatures by planting after temperatures have cooled.
- Once the vegetables are the desired size, it is time to pick them. Be careful not to damage them as they are dug up, picked off, or cut off from the plants.
- Once the vegetables have been harvested, either remove the parent plant, or till it back into the garden to add additional organic matter to the garden.