Congratulations on your decision to start your own Victory Garden 2.0! Now it’s time for planting your garden outdoors!
In a previous blog, we talked about victory gardens and how to plan them, including starting from seed. Now it’s time to think about planting your garden outdoors.
The following tips are all from the wonderful people at the National Garden Bureau who launched the idea of the Victory Garden 2.0 this spring, based on the book from James H. Burdett, the Victory Garden Manual, published in 1943. Mr. Burdett was the founder of the National Garden Bureau in 1920 and today, as we celebrate the NGB’s 100th anniversary, his advice and tips are still extremely useful.
Ten Steps for Planting Your Own Victory Garden 2.0
1. For transplants, follow recommended planting dates based on your last spring frost-free date. Rushing your planting could mean that a late frost will kill your baby transplants or that the transplants will simply sit in too-cool soil until it warms up.
2. Soil is a vital if complex issue in gardening, but the important thing to understand is that you need top quality soil if you want to grow top quality vegetables. It has to be rich and well drained, yet able to hold a decent amount of moisture. So before planting, make sure you have prepped your soil by mixing in 2 to 3 inches (5 to 7.5 cm) of compost into a previously established bed or brought in the best soil you can find if you’re starting a new raised bed. Then you are ready to begin planting!
3. Cool-season vegetables typically have shorter crop times and thus produce edibles earlier. So, consider starting your garden by direct-sowing lettuce, radishes, peas, etc. if the temperatures are still cool in your area. Some seeds are very tiny so take care to avoid planting too many. That is wasteful and will result in more work as you’ll need to thin your plantings later as they grow and crowd each other out. Follow the recommended sowing dates on the seed package.
4. For best results, plant vegetables at the recommended spacing. Look for this information on seed packets, in catalogs, on websites and on tags. Overcrowding is one of the most common mistakes gardeners make. It results in less airflow which then leads to disease. It can also result in smaller sized plants and smaller and less crops since these plants can’t get enough nutrients. Remember, sometimes more isn’t better when it comes to planting too many plants in a small area.
5. Handle transplants gently, don’t compress the soil and, in most cases, plant to the same depth as it was in the original container. One exception is tomatoes and peppers: they can be planted deeper, which is especially helpful if the transplants are tall and leggy at planting time. Bury peppers a bit deeper than the root ball to encourage additional root growth that will make them sturdier. If your tomatoes are very leggy, you can bury tomatoes a full 2/3 of the plant if you want, although normally 1/3 would suffice for a healthy young plant. Tomatoes have the ability to sprout additional roots along the buried stem that will help keep the plant upright and allow it to better survive the hot summer days.
6. Using trellises and other supports for vining crops allows you to grow more vegetables in a smaller space since they will grow up, not out. This includes cucumbers, pole beans, melons, squash and peas. This is called vertical gardening and it’s a major space saver!
7. Tradition says vegetables should be planted in rows from north to south. This is so that one row won’t shade out the other. Even if not planting in rows, keep this in mind for raised beds and containers so that shorter plants are situated to the south and larger plants are to the north of those plants.
8. Fertilizer is a vital component in most gardens. You can incorporate a slow-release fertilizer into the soil at the beginning of the season and/or apply soluble fertilizers every two to three weeks throughout the growing season.
9. Watering is, of course, very important in your garden. The success of your time and effort will depend on proper watering. But, don’t stress. It takes some trial and error, but with these six tips, you will soon be an expert.
10. Lastly: To mulch or not to mulch? This is a personal choice but using mulch around your vegetable plants has many benefits. You’ll find more information on mulching in the article Vegetable Gardens Need Mulch Too!
Now it’s time to get out and start planting your own Victory Garden 2.0!
Information and photos supplied by the National Garden Bureau