It’s not just a fad to grow your own veggies. Growing vegetables that can go from the garden to the table in a matter of minutes is a solid trend. Even restaurants are establishing their own gardens, and for good reason. Growing your own veggies gives the freshest flavor possible and eliminates the chance of consuming any unsavory pesticides.
Now is the season to get those tasty crops growing with cool season veggies – lettuce, carrots, radishes and spinach. And once they are harvested, the growing space can be replanted with warm season crops such as tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, broccoli, etc.
But before you plant, give some thought to the soil. Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or new to the veggie patch, it’s time to dig in – and quite literally.
Check out your soil
Experienced gardeners know that the quality of veggies you get out of the ground is directly related to what you put in it. If you don’t know the kind of soil you have, your growing efforts may not bring the best results. In Colorado it is typical to have low organic matter in the range of less than 1%. In order to get soil to the desired range of 3 to 5%, you will most likely need to amend it.
Before adding amendments, however, consider having the soil tested to learn what you really need to add. A soil test (available from Colorado State University for less than $50) gives important information about the soil’s PH, salt content, organic matter and minerals like nitrogen. Once you submit the soil sample, results arrive in a few weeks and you don’t have to be a scientist to understand them.
Once you know what your soil needs, you can go about adding the correct materials. Be sure to till the soil well by hand digging or using a rototiller as you add any amendments and/or compost.
Raised beds reduce the work
Creating raised beds can be an effective and labor-saving way to designate a space for veggies and herbs. These beds can be filled with good planting soil (which takes out the steps of testing the soil, finding the right amendments and tilling them in).
Using containers can also make things simpler. You can grow your herbs and veggies in containers close to the kitchen – just a few steps away – to keep food prep faster.