Ten Steps to a Successful Garden:
Vegetables from the home garden are fresher, may have better nutrient values, and are often less costly than those sold in stores. In addition to providing wholesome, low-cost food, vegetable gardening is an interesting hobby, one in which the whole family can take part. Other advantages of gardening are that it provides healthful outdoor exercise, offers productive activity for retired, handicapped, or disabled persons, and is an excellent teaching tool for children.
To get the most out of your garden you should make plans early in the year and follow proper steps during the gardening season. The purpose of this guide is to help you plan and maintain a garden under Illinois growing conditions so that you will have an abundant supply of high-quality vegetables at harvest and (if you freeze, can, or store your vegetables) throughout the year."
It's been fun browsing my favorite vegetable seed catalogs. Stokes, Gurney's, Henry Fields, the list goes on and on. What is your favorite?
It won't be that long until we plant our lettuces and cole crops. You wouldn't know it with today's record Arctic blast, but it really won't be long! This is the time of the year I like to get the planter ready. I prepared the soil last fall with lime and fertilizer and a cover crop. All I have to do now is prepare the soil.
Most gardens are full tillage to control weeds. Few people no-till their garden or use herbicides to control weeds so tillage and hand pulling and hoeing are the most common methods of weed control.
Since our sweet corn was on the south side last year, it will go on the north side this year. Everything gets flip flopped usually so we are not raising the same crop in the same soil each year. This is basic crop rotation.
The day of planting is most important. I like to plant in a warm or warming soil so I watch the weather carefully. We have never had a better crop than when we strike our rows, get on our knees and plant by hand, very carefully. Work shoes are adequate to cover and compress the soil for good germination. 3-7 days before the next rain is ideal but usually doesn't happen. Two days is minimum and a cloudburst the next day is a sure sign of replant.
Some watch the moon signs and they do work. I tend to watch the soil and weather more and it seems to work out most times.
Just writing this makes me want to go grow more food. The taste is "in the pudding" and it is on the counter top thawing out.