Choosing a garden site is one of the most important decisions any gardener will make.
The ideal place for a vegetable garden is a level well-drained site, with full sun all day. There should be good air circulation and the soil should be loose, fertile and easy to work.
Too good to be true?
Few gardeners are lucky enough to have such a perfect spot. If you’re like most and have less than an ideal situation, here are a few suggestions:
Avoid placing the garden in a low spot where water drains poorly. A gradually sloping hillside with a southern exposure is preferable. A southern exposure gets the most sunlight through the growing season.
Choose a site with at least eight hours of direct sunlight each day (10-12 hours are ideal) in the summer. This means planting vegetables away from buildings, trees and anything that would shade the garden area. If part of the garden must be in the shade, grow lettuce or cool crops such as cabbage, broccoli and kale.
Examine the site to see how well the soil drains. Avoid areas that are compacted and stay soggy after a rain. Loamy or sandy loam soils are preferable to a heavy clay soil. Solve minor drainage problems by adding lots of organic matter. However, adding sand to Georgia clay will only turn your soil into concrete.
Locate the garden away from trees and shrubs. Their roots will rob vegetables of nutrients and water. Remember, the roots from many trees extend far beyond the drip line.
Look for a site that supports lush vegetative growth, even if it’s in the form of dark green, sturdy weeds. If weeds won’t grow in an area, vegetables probably won’t grow there, either.
Consider the distance to the nearest water source. A nearby, easy-to-use water supply is important. Watering is crucial at planting time and during the summer heat. If watering is a hassle, the desire to keep the garden going may vanish.
Pay heed to how far the garden is from your back door. The closer it is to the kitchen, the more you’ll use those fresh vegetables, fruits herbs and flowers.
Planning is so important to making your own vegetables. The more you plan, the more successful you will be when it comes to harvesting the fruits of your labor. If you have questions, give us a call at the office.
Michael Wheeler is county extension coordinator for the UGA Cooperative Extension in Hall County. You can contact him at 770-535-8293, www.hallcounty.org/extension. His column appears weekly and on gainesvilletimes.com/life.