This is a good time to make plans. Just 15 minutes a day, every day from spring to fall, you can create a showcase of edible beauty: the stunning look of a ripe red tomato, colorful chard, or shiny bell pepper. It’s not as difficult as you think. And unlike maintaining a lawn, you can eat the results of your labor.
Growing good vegetables requires at least six hours of sunlight a day, preferably more. For most people, the sunniest spot in the garden is the middle of the lawn. A well-kept vegetable garden is just as gorgeous as a flower garden. If you like flowers, you can also plant them in your vegetable garden.
Don’t chew more than you can chew or eat weed. The lovely lawn garden is only 10 feet wide and 12 feet long. With proper care, it can provide fresh vegetables all summer long.
Use string and stakes to define the boundaries of your yard, cut into 1-foot squares with a edging tool or spade, then pry up the sod. Make a compost pile using the grass.
Starting early enough in the season (such as May 1st), you can remove all the grass for 15 to 20 minutes a day for a week or more. That way, you can get into the habit of spending time in the garden, but not developing blisters or back pain. Gardening should be fun, not hard work. Still, you can exercise without going to the gym.
Your lawn yard has two raised beds separated by a walkway. After removing the sod, pile up the soil to form a bed about 30 inches wide with a walkway in the middle and a space between the lawn and the bed. There is 6 inches of space around the yard. To do this, loosen the soil with a garden fork (after removing the sod), shake off the soil, and then rake the soil from the perimeter and walkway onto the bed. .
Next, spread 5 bags of composted cow manure on each bed (each bag usually labeled 30 quarts).
Alternatively, you can use regular 6- to 8-inch wide planks to make a wooden-sided bed. Two inch thick lumber is even better for more service. Gardener’s Supply (www.Gardeners.com) sells a variety of brackets to build your raised bed.
If you’re building a bed with wooden sides, you’ll need to buy more filler than if you’re using a mound bed. Most garden centers sell topsoil and compost in tractor scoops. This is typically two-thirds a cubic yard of material. They will dump or deliver in the back of your pickup truck (for a fee). He recommends a 50/50 mix of topsoil and compost.
If you make a woodside bed, you can put it on the lawn without removing it, which saves a lot of labor. Just stuff it. Long carrots may bottom out in the first year, but most other plants don’t mind.
what to plant Make a list of the vegetables that you like the most and that taste best fresh. When planting tomatoes, create rows of at least 24 inches for each plant. And buy wire cages for your tomatoes so they don’t fall over and shade nearby carrots and broccoli.
I like to plant lettuce seedlings around the tomatoes early in the season when they are still small. Plant tomatoes (or taller plants) at the north end of the garden to provide less shade to other plants.
Oh, and about those weeds: The easiest way to prevent the problem is mulching.Lay out six sheets of newspaper and cover with straw, mulch hay, or last fall’s leaves. This darkens the soil and turns off the switch that tells when weed seeds will germinate. Mulch retains moisture even during dry periods. But if a few weeds do occur, be sure to pull them out before they get bigger and produce more seeds.
Gardening is said to be a middle-aged sport. After all, who’s a parent of three toddlers and has time to mow? This way you can maintain it in 15 minutes a day. i promise. Just keep doing it every day and your garden will look better and you will be amazed and delighted at how much food you can grow in the middle of your lawn!
Henry is a UNH Master Gardener and the author of four books on gardening. Please email PO Box 364, Cornish Flat, NH 03746 or email email@example.com.