Vegetable Gardening 101

Spring, the time of year when thoughts turn to gardening. It's an enjoyable activity for kids and parents alike. What a great way to spend some time together, while exploring your own backyard. Gardening can be relaxing for adults, fun for kids, and good exercise for all!

PLAN BEFORE PLANTING

Include your children in your gardening plans, taking them to your local library or bookstore to look at gardening books. Check out gardening sites on the internet. Visit your favorite gardening center, or agricultural extension agent for ideas on what vegetables grow easily in your area.

The most popular vegetables for gardening are usually the easiest to grow. They include tomatoes, corn, radishes, lettuce, cucumbers, peas, squash, melon and beets. Grow the vegetables that your family likes to eat. It doesn't do you any good to have a bumper crop of zucchini if your family won't eat it. Get your family together, looking through gardening catalogs and books, and decide on your favorites. Your child can help as you plan your garden out on paper.

Choose some plants that are easy and quick to grow. Quick results can be very important, helping to keep your more impatient young gardeners engaged. Radishes, lettuce, and squash are some vegetables that grow quickly.

When choosing a plant, consider the amount of space it will take up when it is fully grown. Planting bush style veggies rather than the sprawling, vine varieties will prevent their takeover of your garden plot. Use all the space, filling in areas between varieties with more rapidly growing radishes and lettuce. This is called intercropping. In addition to making the best use of your space, this also helps reduce the number of weeds in your garden and helps to retain the soil's moisture. Since plants mature and are harvested at different times, you might want to have ideas in mind for succession planting.

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