Planting your own vegetable garden is very satisfying and provides healthy and delicious food for the family. The fact is, anyone can successfully plant vegetables for personal consumption as long as you have some basic equipment and essential information.
These days it is common to plant vegetables in raised beds rather than in long rows. This is a more economical and efficient way of planting vegetables as you can control the soil composition better. The soil temperature in the bed is usually higher so this keeps the plants warm during fall and winter. Raised beds are usually around 4 feet wide and between 6 to 15 inches high. You can make it as long as is practical for you depending on how much space you have. So what would you plant in your vegetable garden? There are basically two options.
The first option is doing mixed cultivation where you plant a variety of vegetables that help each other grow. Some vegetables help other vegetables ward of insect pests, while some provide shade. Thus mixed cultivation produces a bigger harvest than if the vegetables were planted separately. Here are some common mixed cultivation combination's:
Lettuce, peas, kohlrabi and red radishes
Cabbage and dwarf (French) beans
Cabbage, tomatoes and celery
Carrots, leeks and onions
Tomatoes, lettuce, red radishes, onions, celery and carrots
However, there are some combinations of vegetables that inhibit each other's growth. Some of these are:
Potatoes, tomatoes and squash
Carrots and dill
Broccoli and tomatoes
Beans and onions
The other option of what to plant in your raised bed vegetable garden is to do rotation planting. This is where you rotate your vegetables among your beds after each season. In this method, you plant your vegetables in the beds according to vegetable families. Most vegetables belong to different families:
Alliums - for example, onions, leeks, garlic, shallots and scallions
Brassicas - broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and kale
Crucifers - turnips, rutabaga, radishes and collards
Cucurbits - cucumbers, squashes (pumpkins and zucchinis) and melons
Mescluns - swiss chard, arugula, chicory, endive, escarole and radiccio
Solanaceae - tomatoes, eggplants and pepper
Legumes - beans and peas
Each family occupies one bed and they should be rotated each year such that they are not planted in the same bed for another four years. This is so that the soil is replenished because each family of vegetables uses up the same types of nutrients and is subject to the same type of pests.
Besides the above, there are the perennials such as rhubarb, artichoke and asparagus. These should be planted separately without rotation. So if you have five raised beds, you can plant one family of vegetables in each bed and the perennials in the last one.
If you live in an apartment, you can still have a garden by planting the vegetables in containers. This is called container vegetable gardening. All the options above are still applicable except in a smaller scale according to the size of your containers.
Now that you know what to plant, you can take your first steps towards starting your own successful vegetable garden.