Question: I'm just beginning a vegetable garden. My area is 3-sided around the edges of my backyard because that is where the longest sunshine is. How many inches/feet from the perimeter should I clear and prepare (3ft/4ft)? Should I plant some seeds now for summer harvest? I want an organic garden and I used salt to kill a bush stump. I am starting to compost. Which veggies should I plant first (carrots, cucumbers, radishes, tomatoes, zucchini, yellow squash, green and red peppers, chinese cabbage, eggplant)? Thanks, Kat

Answer: Most vegetables need full direct sun all day long to grow and produce well.

The soil should be looosened down about a foot and compost or other organic matter should be added. You would also want to run some basic soil tests to check fertility and soil pH, then add fertilizer and/or lime as indicated by the test results. Then once the soil is prepared, use an organic mulch on top of the soil to help protect it from erosion and hold down weeds. This will also help add organic matter to the soil as it breaks down slowly over time.

If planting in August for a fall crop, you might consider cool season growers such as spinach and other greens, peas, onions, cole crops. (These can also be planted in the very early spring alogn with radishes which need cool soil to grow well.)

The so called main season vegetables such as cucumber, squash, tomato, pepper, eggplant all need a longer growing season than we have left. They would be planted next spring after all danger of frost has passed.

You might still be able to plant a fast maturing variety of bush bean now for fall harvest, and you could also consider planting a cover crop to help build up your soil for next year's planting.

In the meantime you may find the following information helpful in making your plans. You may need to cut and paste the complete url into your browser to make it work correctly.

Enjoy your new garden!

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