Interest in growing vegetables has never been greater. Here are some things to consider if you want homegrown food.
The current nationwide desire to stay home and grow some vegetables is being called Victory Garden 2.0 by the National Garden Bureau. During World War II, Americans planted 12 million Victory Gardens in cities and six million in rural areas to assist with the war effort and boost morale.
Saving money is another benefit of having a food garden. Potential returns from the average home garden costing $154 to establish is $728, with your labor earning $21 per hour.
In Lynchburg, you can succeed with most any kind of vegetable. Our frost-free growing season is at least six months long, and harvest time runs from March to December.
Your vegetables may grow in the ground, in containers and in raised beds. Our native clay soil produces bumper crops of vegetables — if you mix in compost or livestock manure along with lime and fertilizer, a process that requires digging by hand or using power equipment.
Planting in rows is popular in vegetable gardens. Rows look good, and they make the job of weeding easier because weeds do not grow in rows.
Timing is everything where vegetables are concerned. Frost-tolerant, cool-season crops are grown in spring and autumn while warm-season crops are planted this month and next for a summer harvest.
You can have an extended harvest by planting eggplants, peppers and tomatoes just once. To have a steady supply of cucumbers, squash, peas, beans, corn, lettuce, radish, beets, carrots and spinach, you need to plant several times.
No insecticides are needed to have a good harvest of lettuce, spinach, turnip, mustard, mesclun, arugula, carrot, beet, bean, garlic, onion, peas, okra, tomatoes and peppers. Doing organic gardening is easier if these are your crops.
Your greatest pest problems will occur in cucumbers, squashes, pumpkins and melons. Their lives are going to be cut short if nothing is done about cucumber beetles and squash bugs.
Plant your garden as close to your kitchen and garden hose as possible. Your crops are more likely to be eaten by deer if they are in the far corner of your back yard.
Deer enjoy eating many kinds of vegetables, including sweet potato, lettuce and beans. Under normal conditions, they do not eat okra, tomato, pepper, eggplant, cucumber, squash, pumpkin, Irish potato, garlic, onion and asparagus.
Always fertilize your vegetables’ soil, and water it regularly if rain does not come. The vegetables must have fertilizer whether organic or conventional.
Crowding is fine for many vegetables. One square foot of space can hold four bean plants, 50 carrots, four kales, 70 radishes or six lettuces.
Others need more room. Juliet, Big Beef and similar indeterminate tomatoes grow into huge vines, so planting them five to six feet apart is best.
Remember to plant flowers among your vegetables. No garden is complete unless it has a row of zinnias and a few sunflowers.
Don Davis is a retired Virginia Cooperative Extension agent. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.