The winter months are moving along. The days are getting longer. Soon we will be in late-winter, early spring. What this means for many of us, me included, is we are planning our summer vegetable gardens. We are asking ourselves, what types of vegetables, herbs and fruits should we grow, where, when and how much. Each year, I plant new things (Rule #10 below), and my vegetable garden gets bigger and more ambitious. Sometimes too much so (hence Rule #7 below). A few years ago, my garden space expanded from one part of the yard to two parts, and in 2021, it will be in three parts – holy guacamole! Like winning the lottery. Maybe not the mega-million but winning nonetheless. There is a lot to consider, including: what grows well together, what grows best during which months, how much space is needed between each plant, and should the overall aesthetics be an important consideration? As much as I would like to, I cannot forget that because I live in Baltimore, this year I must consider whether the crawling-out-of-the-ground-every-17-years-louder-than-a-jet-plane cicadas will affect my garden, and if yes, how can I prevent or minimize that? Finally, not least of all of my questions is, what should my vegetable garden rules be?
To make sure my garden rules are up to snuff, I have done some serious reading on the subject. I found many wise and helpful rules. I decided upon the following rules for my 2021 vegetable garden although there is always room for improvement or tweaking;
- Never have just one tomato plant. I can promise you, this will be a terribly woeful situation that you will regret for many months to come.
- Share your garden bounty as if the growing season never ends.
- If someone in your household likes something that you do not particularly like, plant it anyway. Not everything outside has to speak to everyone inside.
- The right amount of sun, water and soil = these are essentials.
- Follow the Law of Significant Enclosure: The vertical edge of a garden should be at least one-third the length of the horizontal side of a garden. This is probably better suited for flower or grass gardens, not vegetable gardens, but I like it, visually. I’m keeping it as one of my rules.
- Know the Latin botanical name for every plant (Tomato – Lycopersicon esculentum).
- As with people, each plant needs its own “personal” space. Do not overcrowd by planting too close together or in too small a space.
- Visit your garden as many times a day as you can.
- Affectionately, joyfully and cheerfully greet every plant, leaf, and bud. Even if you cannot see them (when still seeds beneath the soil), encourage your garden to grow. Be your garden’s biggest cheerleader. Even for the plants that are poor-doers.
- Try to grow at least one new thing that you have never tried to grow before.
- Lastly, I found two humorous rules from the blog, 50 Golden Rules of Gardening, located on the website southernliving.com: (A) Don’t get upset when plants die. It’s not failure–it’s an opportunity. Think of it as the Big Guy looking down on your garden and saying, “Oh, you’re going to grow that again? Here, let me kill it so you can try something new and more interesting.” (B) Never grow watermelons on a fifth-floor balcony, for obvious reasons. For all 50 gardening golden rules, go to: https://www.southernliving.com/home-garden/gardens/grumpy-gardener-best-gardening-tips?slide=a376d620-f9e3-462d-a705-950c58d7130e#a376d620-f9e3-462d-a705-950c58d7130e.
What rules do you have for your 2021 vegetable garden? Let UnitedInFood know. We would love to hear about them and maybe add one or two more to our list! #HappyGardening2021
Pixie Millet – February 2021