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The establishment of a garden to grow vegetables will depend on many factors, the main one being the gardener's interest. Growing sizeable vegetables calls for a great deal of skill and time.
Things to consider are the amount of land available, the depth and fertility of the soil, and its aspect. Homegrown vegetables, as well as augmenting the supply of food for the household, provide materials of a high nutritive value and a very rich supply of vitamins. Many foods, especially those of the salad type, deteriorate quickly after harvesting, and the fresher they are at the time of eating the more nutritious they are said to be. Vegetables that arrive at the table by way of the usual commercial channels do not seem as tasty as the home-grown ones.
The properties of the soil are most important when growing vegetables. Most vegetable crops must have a constant and uniform supply of water in the soil, otherwise the quality of the produce is adversely affected. Those soils that dry out quickly, or remain very wet after rain, are not as good as those that are relatively friable and moist. The best type of soil for growing vegetables is a loam. Clay soils are too difficult to work and sandy soils fail to retain enough water for the plants' requirements.
Loam soils contain both sandy and clay particles in suitable amounts, permitting the cultivation of the soil under widely-ranging conditions.
Many vegetable crops have small seeds and this means that a fine seed-bed must
be prepared to receive them. Workability of the soil at all seasons is important. Soils facing east to north are more useful than those facing south.
Plan the vegetable garden as you would the floral garden. First determine the position of paths. In a small garden it is better to have the paths running down the centre, dividing the garden into halves.
Then divide the land into beds. The size of the beds will be influenced by the overall size and shape of the area but, as far as possible, make the beds large.
Set aside permanent beds for such crops as Asparagus, Rhubarb, and herbs. Beds that are provided with some shade are useful for salad crops and for seedlings.
In planning for creating a vegetable garden, provide also for a compost heap.
To produce a wide range of fresh vegetables over an extended period of the year demands a great deal of skill to meet the specific nutritional requirements of each crop. An extensive knowledge is needed of the many crop varieties, as well as of the right time for sowing and harvesting. The table given in a later chapter will help in this. Also, many kinds of pests must be controlled.