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Vegetable Growing Tips

Garden Layout Ideas

A vegetable garden can be a useful and beautiful thing. The following garden layout ideas will help you design your own vegetable garden.

  • Add walks and arbors and interplant with beautiful flowers and herbs to make the vegetable garden both pretty and productive. Keep the garden near your kitchen. It will be easy to run out and pick a few things you need, and you can spy on the garden from your window. Picking tomatoes after you see them blush crimson is a perfect way to get them at their best.

    Sunflower stem
    A sunflower stem looks
    lovely when
    by morning glories

  • Plant vertically to save space. Instead of letting beans, cucumbers, melons, and squash sprawl across the ground, you can let them climb up a trellis or arbor.

  • Add height to a vegetable garden with a tepee covered with bean and pea vines. This space saver works similarly to a trellis but has a different look. Make the tepee of six or eight 6-foot-high poles tied together at the top. Plant pole beans, lima beans, or peas around each pole, and they will twine up to the top.

  • Plant morning glory seeds around the stems of sunflowers. Lanky sunflowers can look quite barren once the flowers are done blooming. But when clad in morning glories, their beauty lasts for the rest of the growing season.

  • Side-dress long-growing crops, such as indeterminate tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers, with a balanced vegetable-garden fertilizer in order to keep them producing. After the first harvest, sprinkle some granular fertilizer around the perimeter of the plants, then work it lightly into the soil, and water well. The extra nutrients can encourage blossoming of new flowers and development of fruits afterward.

  • Plant potatoes in raised beds, covering them with a little compost-enriched soil. As the potato vines arise, surround them with straw until the layer reaches about 12 inches in thickness. New tubers will develop in the straw, which can be brushed away for a super-simple harvest.

  • Use newspaper covered with straw between garden rows to eliminate weeds and retain moisture. This dynamic duo works more efficiently together than either one alone. At the end of the growing season, rototill the paper and straw into the soil to decay.

  • Plant melons and cucumbers in the compost pile. (They might grow there anyway if you toss old fruits on the pile in the fall). Warm, moist, nutrient-rich compost seems to bring out the best in melon and cucumber vines.

  • Get twice the harvest by planting a lettuce and tomato garden in an 18- or 24-inch-wide pot. You can pick the lettuce as it swells and leave extra growing room for the tomatoes. Here's how to proceed: Fill the pot with a premoistened blend of 1/3 compost and 2/3 peat-based potting mix. Plant several leaf lettuce seeds or small seedlings around the edge of the pot and a tomato seedling in the middle. Place the pot in a sunny, frost-free location. Water as needed to keep the soil moist, and fertilize once a month or as needed to encourage good growth.

In the next section, we'll give you some great tips for working with tomatoes.

Vegetables: Flavorful and Attractive

Experiment with vegetables that are extra pretty or extra flavorful, such as the following:
  • Ruby- and pink-leaved lettuces
  • Green, yellow, and purple snap beans; the purple ones turn green when cooked
  • Crimson, white, gold, and red-striped beets
  • Violet, neon pink, soft pink, and white eggplants
  • Peppers ranging from sweet to mild spicy to super hot -- something for everyone
  • Red, orange, yellow, pink, or cream tomatoes; for exceptional flavor, try Brandywine and Sweet 100 cherry tomatoes

Want more gardening tips? Try:

  • Gardening Tips: Learn great helpful hints for all of your gardening needs.
  • Annuals: Plant these beauties in your garden.
  • Perennials: Choose great plants that will return year after year.
  • Gardening: Discover how to garden.