Planning to Promote Success in Your 2022 Vegetable Garden
March is a great time to start to plan for your summer vegetable garden.
Whether you’re planning your first vegetable garden or you’re an experienced vegetable gardener, there are things you can be doing to enhance the probability of a successful growing season.
Linda Stein, Master Gardener
Experienced gardeners review last year’s successes and failures. Some problems that you encountered may be indicative of issues that you may wish to address as you prepare for the upcoming growing season.
If your vegetable plants had lush leaf growth but limited vegetables, it may be because your soil has excess nitrogen and/or inadequate phosphorus. When we experience a thaw and you can dig in your garden, you may wish to have a soil test to determine how to amend the soil to promote effective growth. Go to the University of Minnesota’s website (https://soiltest.cfans.umn.edu/testing-services/lawn-garden) for details on how to submit a sample for testing.
If you have been planting the same vegetables in the same locations you may have seen poorer harvests. As you prepare for the coming year consider rotating the location of specific plants to reduce damage from insect pests, limit the development of vegetable-specific diseases and manage soil fertility. Vegetables should be considered in the following groups: root vegetables, fruit-bearing vegetables, legumes, and leafy vegetables as you rotate the location of plants. So, for example, don’t plant fruit-bearing plants such as bell peppers where tomatoes were planted last year. Instead, plant legumes, root vegetables like carrots, or leafy vegetables such as lettuce.
Many vegetables can be started from seeds, planted indoors and transplanted outdoors when the weather warms. March is the appropriate time to plant broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, and cauliflower seeds indoors so they are ready for the Minnesota growing season.
If you are planning your first vegetable garden, consider the following:
Review your yard to find a location that receives at least 6 hours of sun.
Decide which vegetables you would like to grow. Some of the easiest ones to grow include lettuce, cucumbers, green beans, summer squash, root vegetables (such as radishes and carrots), bell peppers, tomatoes, and peas. Review online listings or plant catalogs to determine the specific variety of the vegetables to plant. Make sure the plant will survive in Minnesota’s climate. Also consider the production habit of the plant. Some varieties continue producing over a prolonged period of time while others produce all their fruit over a short period of time.
Develop a layout for planting. Consider traditional straight rows or square foot layouts. Consider how many plants of each vegetable to plant. Some vegetables like to be planted close together while others prefer space to allow good air flow around the plant. Plant tall plants along the northern end of our garden so they don’t shade shorter plants.
Send a soil sample to the University of Minnesota to determine how you should amend the soil to promote plant health and vegetable production. (See link to the soil testing site above.)
Consider March the start of your vegetable growing season and prepare for success in your 2022 garden.
Photo Credit: Linda Stein (1), University of Minnesota Extension (2), Southern Foodways Alliance (3)