1) First, start off with a sunny location with well-drained soil. Prepare planting beds by measuring out a size and length that are that will work well for your size of garden. Beds that are about 21/2 feet wide allow for reaching the middle from either side. After you plant your first garden you can adjust the widths. Our first year of green beans was way to close and it made harvesting a real chore.
2) If you are planning on using raised beds stake out a planting bed or build a frame that is 10 to 12 inches high to contain and protect the bed soil. This improves drainage and raises the garden’s working level.
3) Mix compost into the planting bed about three weeks prior to planting. Compost can come from animal manures or plant material and may be homemade or commercially prepared.
4) Choose varieties of vegetables that are well adapted to your region and known to be disease and pest resistant. Check with your local cooperative extension service for recommendations, and use seed catalogs to identify varieties that are bred to be pest or disease free.
5) Start planting peas, spinach, lettuce and broccoli once soils are thawed in the spring (or in the fall where winters are mild). These vegetables thrive in cool soils and air and can even survive light frosts. Tomatoes, peppers, corn and squash need heat and do not tolerate frost. Plant them only after soils are thoroughly warm and danger of frost has passed. I also have an area where all of our perennial vegetables are together, such as rhubarb and asparagus
6) Encourage beneficial insects such as ladybugs, lacewing flies and hover flies by not spraying broad-spectrum pesticides, by planting the plants that nourish them (such as dill and zinnia) and by releasing purchased insects into your yard. Likewise, provide habitats for toads, birds and bats to live.
7) Water and mulch as needed. Healthy, vigorous plants are somewhat less attractive to some pests, and if attacked are better able to outgrow any damage that they may have suffered.
8) Prevent Pests by removing weeds, which often sustain them. Rotate crops every year to avoid pest buildup, and cover susceptible crops with lightweight fabric row covers to exclude pests. Research the crops you’re planting so that you can identify their common pests, and then strategize how to outmaneuver them. Searching a variety of garden Web sites under “integrated pest management” will provide lots of materials to look over.
That’s the 8 steps to help you get started, let us know how your garden turned out for 2010. We are always here to help.