Growing the Perfect Garden


How to Plant Produce

By Tory Irmeger

From garden-fresh lettuce to juicy cherry tomatoes, nothing is quite as satisfying as home-grown vegetables. Luckily, vegetable gardening is widely accessible and adaptable to anyone who wants to get started growing their own produce! Read on for some tips about starting a vegetable garden in your own backyard.

X Marks the Spot

The key to a healthy garden is picking the right spot. Most vegetables require lots of sunlight – around 6-8 hours a day. In addition to light, vegetables thrive in nutrient-rich, well-draining soil. If you plan to plant vegetables directly in the ground, consider using an at-home soil testing kit to evaluate the acidity and nutrient levels of your soil to ensure your plants will have the best growing conditions.


Consider Containers

If spatial limitations are holding you back from growing your own produce, think again! Planting vegetables in raised beds or pots is a great start for those who want to start small or whose lawns have poor quality soil. Just be sure that the containers you use have drainage holes to avoid waterlogging the plants.

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Picking Produce plants

East Tennessee is friendly to plenty of vegetables, such as lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and squash. When choosing which plants to include in your garden, consider both the growing conditions of your garden as well as the fruits, vegetables, and herbs you are most likely to eat. It’s better to start small with your selection rather than be overwhelmed by more produce than you can reasonably process and consume.


Water With Care

Consistent watering is crucial to keep your plants happy, so consider placing your garden near a convenient water source. Water your garden beds in the cooler morning or evening times to avoid losing moisture in the midday heat. Soil quality plays a large role in sustaining moisture levels for your plants, so be sure to invest in nutrient-rich soil amendments as necessary.

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Stagger Planting

Staggered or succession planting is the process of planting vegetables of the same kind in batches a week or two apart. This extends the harvest season of your garden so that when one batch dies back, the next batch is still providing produce. Staggered planting is especially useful for crops that are susceptible to pests and diseases, such as cucumbers and summer squash.


Beware the Bolt

Bolting refers to crops prematurely going to seed, typically rendering the vegetables inedible or poor-quality. Although seeding is a normal aspect of a plant’s lifespan, bolting can be a nuisance to vegetable gardeners. Be sure to water consistently, stagger your plantings, and plant during the appropriate seasons to avoid cold snaps and extreme heat.

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