Homesteading 101: Plant a Vegetable Garden

I am SICK of winter. As I look out at the back deck, all i can see is snow. No, really – the snow banks are like 8 feet high at this point and there’s more snow coming. It’s a constant struggle to remind myself that the snow will stop at some point and that warmer weather is on its way to melt all of this.

In the spirit of Spring – which will eventually come… right? – I thought it would be a good time to start thinking about planting a vegetable garden. We have a large garden area and every year we plant a huge crop of veggies to share with friends and family and to can. There’s something very rewarding about having a vegetable garden and after the first few years when you’re spending a lot on materials, it starts paying for itself and can even save you money!

For our garden, we started with a border to create a raised bed. The ground here is not awesome, so a raised bed was a must. We also have deer and a dog that loves to eat vegetables, so we had to fence the entire thing with chicken wire. At first, we had a sturdy wire fence with a top board and all that jazz, but we had a woodchuck visit and long story short, the wobbly fence will work BETTER to keep pests out of your garden than the sturdy one. Be sure to either bury the bottom of the fence or staple it to the frame of the garden so critters can’t go under it.

Once the frame was in place, we needed dirt. I got a load of loam and a load of compost. We mixed the two with our rototiller and it worked great. The loam held the moisture and the compost provided nutrients. Every couple years, we add compost – either home made from our compost bin or store bought. Compost is cheap.

After that, it’s just a matter of planting the seeds and waiting. Over the years, we’ve learned that certain plants do better as starts than seeds. Tomatoes are a good example of that. We’ve also figured out where things do well in our garden. Snap peas seem to like partial shade, as does dill. The tomatoes and eggplant do well together. Zucchini and cucumbers aren’t friends. Corn and pumpkins are a natural combo. We’ve also found that our beans like to climb the fence around the garden, which is made of chicken wire. It makes the perfect trellis and is easy to harvest beans from.

The whole thing is a learning process and every year we discover something new. Are there any other home gardeners out there that have some tips to share? Leave a comment!

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