The Q&A Archives: Easy, Low Maintenance, Small Space, Beginning Vegetable Gardening

Question: I like to plant vegetables but don't have much room. What vegetables can I grow in pots outside, are good for fall and winter planting too, and if I plant into the ground, how can I determine what I can grow in my area or soil, and how do I individually prepare the soil in the spot for the particular kind of vegetable I am planting?

Answer: You certainly can grow plenty of vegetables in a small space and also in containers!

With regard to the in-ground planting, your first step is to run some basic soil tests and prepare the ground as indicated by the results. Fall is a great time to do this. Your County Extension agent can help you with the tests and with interpreting the results, and may even be able to recommend varieties well-suited to your local area. (Their telephone number is 344-1234.)

Next, you might wish to look at some good general gardening books to get an idea of the preparation, planting and maintenance basics. One I like is "Gardening For Dummies" by Michael MacCaskey, ISBN 1-56884-644-4. It includes a section on vegetable gardening as well as a lot of straightforward solid information about all aspects of gardening from soil preparation to fall and winter care.

Next, you might look at one of my favorite books on small space vegetable gardening: "Square Foot Gardening" by Mel Bartholomew, ISBN 0-87857-340-2. This is a wealth of information including schedules, planting plans and detailed instructions. In my experience, this is also the lowest maintenance method of growing vegetables.

Finally, if after reading the above you still think you even need to use the container approach, do take a look at "Container Gardening for Dummies" by Bill Marken, ISBN0-7645-5057-8. This one includes lots of basics about the special techniques and concerns for container plants, as well as a section on vegetables.

Have fun with your new veggie garden!

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