I love vegetable gardening. It's a part of
who I am.
I've had my garden over twenty years now,
and it's still in the same spot...across
the back of my backyard. Some things
have worked through the years, and some
things didn't work. Some vegetables grew
and produced, and others didn't
produce. I still get a lot of satisfaction
working in my vegetable garden and in
getting the bountiful harvest that I get
In the early years, I tilled my garden every winter
with a borrowed gas powered
rear tined tiller from a neighbor. Now, I till my
garden about every other year.
Usually, I'll do the tilling mid to late
February, but sometimes it can be March
before I can start on the garden. I go
down and back, down and back, and then
across and back. Within a day or two,
I rake the garden flat.
After about a week after tilling, I begin
preparing my rows. (I learned several
years ago that it works much better to
create short rows rather than long rows.)
The way I
prepare my rows will usually create three to five wheelbarrow loads of
garden dirt to spread onto any weak spots in my yard.
My garden is currently 14 feet X 56 feet.
It is bordered by landscape timbers to
out grass runners from the backyard centipede grass. The landscape
give the garden a distinct look. The garden used to be eight feet
longer on each
end. The two end sections are now flower beds, each with a rooted
sego palm, and a confederate rose bush.
piling up dirt to make raised beds for my rows, I dig down for my
walkways. Mostly, I use a regular shovel, a square shovel,
and a steel rake. Since
the landscape timbers are eight feet long, I make the
rows four feet apart. It's
easier to line up my
rows. When I dig the walkways I make the walking area the
width of my steel rake
tines. I move the dirt with my square shovel and shape the
rows at the same
time. I use my steel rake to level my rows and tamp down the
top of the rows.
I pace myself and
work a couple of hours per day. Usually, I do about three rows a
day, then quit.
It'll take me about
three days to complete the digging of my rows.
I use reusable steel garden posts and tomato cages.
I actually borrow my
neighbor's ladder and his heavy duty
mallet to set my steel posts. The tallest
posts are set three posts to a
row, one foot inside the end edges and one post in
very middle of a row.
set six of the tallest tomato cages per row for my
tomatoes for six tomato plants
per row (plants about two feet apart).
The smaller steel posts and smaller cages are used where
I'll plant pepper plants.
If you look closely, you'll see electric fence wires.
I run electric fence wires
through the cages and steel posts
to provide extra reinforcement for almost all of
as they grow and begin to get
top-heavy. The two cucumber rows each
steel posts with about eight threaded electric fence wires.
Electric fence wire can be
bought in a roll that usually lasts me about three to five
seasons. It can be used in
whatever customized way that suits your needs.
You can see the rows shaping up as easy access rows
for maintenance and for
picking vegetables later.
Look at the top of my tomato rows and you'll see green
heavy duty wire added.
As the tomato plants grow I get them to drape over the top so that tomato plants
won't be hanging wildly in the walkways.
Also, you can
see a raised white PVC pipe with sprinkler. This sprinkler sprays at
degrees. It is tied in to my lawn sprinkler system, and
watering can be done
automatically by timer or watering can be done manually.
Six tomato plants are planted in a row.
There's plenty of
room for roots to grow and spread.
The landscape timber border defines the garden
space, yet ties the garden into
the overall landscape
I take the
centipede grass clippings after each yard mowing and I'll spread the
grass clippings into the garden. The grass clippings are
the only mulch I use in the
garden and the clippings provide nitrogen for the
Since tomato plants are two feet apart, some years I'll
plant something like onions
between the tomato plants.
With the garden being separated from the lawn by landscape
timbers, I can walk
right up to the garden and have easy access to all of
the plants. Taking only 3-4
steps, I'm at the middle of
Because the rows are four feet apart, the rows are
not crowded. Plant stems
and vegetables are not easily
disturbed when I walk into the garden.
The tomato picking season begins
with my Early Girl
tomatoes, then Romas, then
Roma tomatoes have always done well.
I get lots of Romas!
The garden is
a joy in the July heat of middle GEORGIA.
Tomato growing season is in full swing in July.
What's been growing? Lots of tomatoes
(Early Girl, Better Boy, and Romas),
(Clemson spineless), peppers (Bell, Jalapeno,
squash (crooked neck), eggplant.
I've had tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant grow on into
If you spread out the tasks,
then the hardest work won't be overwhelming. If you
create a similar vegetable
garden, you won't have near as much to do later during
the heat of summer, except to
pick and gather your vegetables.
I've grown or tried to grow the following through the
years (besides what I usually
grow nowadays) ...okra, corn, bush beans, peas,
carrots, radishes, potatoes, and
After my first soil test fifteen years ago, I had to add
some lime to the garden.
That was the only time. A couple of years ago, the
county extension service's soil
test results showed I didn't need to add any
soil amendments. The only things
that need to be added each year are
water and centipede grass clippings
Growing a vegetable garden that is
an extension of your yard takes commitment.
there is a time commitment. More importantly, it takes a commitment of the
I garden because it is what I enjoy. Like I said, it is a part of who I am.