Planning My Vegetable Garden

Given that I am dealing with land that is a combination of rock, sand, and rocks, a set of simple (easy to assemble) raised vegetable gardens will be constructed in the backyard. For this project, the King Bird Garden Bed, Model ML-13YZYH-GB-05DG-UP1 has been selected.  One for each of my grandchildren.  They were very clear about what they wanted Grandpa to plant in “their garden”.  For sake of categorizing, let’s refer to them as G1, G2, G3.  Time to do a little planning to guarantee the little darlings will actually be getting what they want on their plates later this summer.  Summer, a forgotten concept at this point of the year. 

Things will be kept very simple, with each of the G’s getting the one thing they want most.  There is a separate post discussing the garden bed assembly and soil composition.  Links each are provide below.

G1 – Carrots

Carrots are a staple root vegetable that can be grown in a variety of climates, including Wisconsin. If you’re new to growing carrots or looking to improve your yields, there are a few key things to keep in mind.

Choose the Right Carrot Variety

There are many different varieties of carrots to choose from, ranging in color, size, and flavor. When selecting a variety for Wisconsin, choose one that has a short maturity period, as Wisconsin’s growing season is relatively short. Some good varieties to consider include Danvers, Little Finger, and Nantes.

Prepare the Soil

Carrots prefer well-drained soil that is free of rocks and clumps. Before planting, amend your soil with compost or other organic materials to improve its quality. Carrots also prefer a slightly acidic soil with a pH between 6.0 and 6.5. Test your soil pH with a kit from your local garden center and adjust as needed.

Plant at the Right Time

In Wisconsin, it’s best to plant carrots in the spring or fall.  It seems springs only last a few days.  Watch the weather and take the necessary precautions, as condition dictate.  For spring planting, sow seeds as soon as the soil can be worked, typically around late April or early May. For fall planting, sow seeds in mid to late summer, around mid-August. If planting in the fall, choose a variety with a longer maturity period to ensure that your carrots have enough time to mature before the first frost.

Sow Seeds Correctly

When sowing carrot seeds, it’s important to space them properly and not sow them too deep. Carrot seeds are small and delicate, so take care when handling them. Sow seeds about 1/4 inch deep and 1 to 2 inches apart. Once the seedlings have sprouted, thin them out to about 3 to 4 inches apart to allow room for the roots to grow.

Keep Soil Moist

Carrots require consistent moisture to germinate and grow. Keep the soil moist, but not waterlogged, by watering regularly. If the soil dries out too much, it can cause the carrots to split or crack. Avoid overhead watering, as this can lead to fungal diseases. Water at the base of the plant instead.

Weed Regularly (When the Grandkids visit.)

Weeds can compete with carrots for nutrients and water, so it’s important to keep the area around your carrot plants weed-free. Pull weeds by hand or use a hoe to remove them. Avoid disturbing the soil too much, as this can damage the roots of your carrots.

Protect from Pests

Carrots are relatively pest-resistant, but they can be susceptible to carrot rust fly and carrot weevils. To protect your plants, cover them with row covers or netting. You can also use a natural insecticide, such as neem oil, to deter pests.

Harvest at the Right Time

Carrots are ready to harvest when they reach their mature size and color. Check the seed packet for the expected maturity time. To harvest, gently loosen the soil around the carrot and pull it straight up. Avoid twisting or breaking the carrot, as this can damage the root and reduce its quality.

By following these tips, you can successfully grow delicious, healthy carrots in Wisconsin. With a little bit of planning and care, you’ll be able to enjoy a bountiful harvest of this versatile vegetable.

G2 – Green Beans

Green beans are a delicious and nutritious vegetable that are easy to grow in Wisconsin. Whether you’re an experienced gardener or just starting out, here are some tips for growing green beans in the Badger State.

Choose the Right Variety

Green beans come in both bush and pole varieties, each with their own advantages. Bush beans are more compact and require less space, but they produce a smaller harvest. Pole beans, on the other hand, grow on vines that need support, but they produce a larger yield over a longer period of time. When selecting a variety for Wisconsin, choose one that is disease-resistant and suited to your growing conditions. Some popular green bean varieties for Wisconsin include Kentucky Blue, Provider, and Derby.

Prepare the Soil

Green beans prefer well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter. Before planting, amend your soil with compost or other organic materials to improve its quality. Beans also prefer a slightly acidic soil with a pH between 6.0 and 6.5. Test your soil pH with a kit from your local garden center and adjust as needed.

Plant at the Right Time

 In Wisconsin, it’s best to plant green beans in late spring or early summer. Wait until the soil has warmed up to at least 60°F before planting, typically around mid to late May. Plant bush beans 2-4 inches apart and pole beans 4-6 inches apart. Space rows about 18 to 24 inches apart.

Provide Support for Pole Beans

If you’re planting pole beans, you’ll need to provide support for the vines to climb. You can use trellises, stakes, or even teepees made from bamboo poles. Plant the beans in a circle around the support structure, spacing them 4-6 inches apart.

Keep Soil Moist

Green beans require consistent moisture to germinate and grow. Keep the soil moist, but not waterlogged, by watering regularly. If the soil dries out too much, it can cause the beans to wither and die. Avoid overhead watering, as this can lead to fungal diseases. Water at the base of the plant instead.

Weed Regularly

Weeds can compete with green beans for nutrients and water, so it’s important to keep the area around your plants weed-free. Pull weeds by hand or use a hoe to remove them. Avoid disturbing the soil too much, as this can damage the roots of your beans.

Protect from Pests

Green beans are relatively pest-resistant, but they can be susceptible to aphids, bean beetles, and spider mites. To protect your plants, cover them with row covers or netting. You can also use a natural insecticide, such as neem oil, to deter pests.

Harvest at the Right Time

Green beans are ready to harvest when they are about 4 to 6 inches long and the pods are firm and crisp. Pick them regularly to encourage continued production. If you wait too long, the beans will become tough and stringy. Use scissors or a knife to harvest the beans, being careful not to damage the plant.

By following these tips, you can successfully grow delicious, healthy green beans in Wisconsin. With a little bit of planning and luck, you’ll be able to enjoy a bountiful harvest of this versatile vegetable.

G3 – Tomatoes (The Go to Crop)

Tomatoes are a staple in many Wisconsin gardens. They are relatively easy to grow and provide a bountiful harvest throughout the summer months. If you’re a first-time tomato grower or looking to improve your yields, there are a few key things to keep in mind.

Choose the Right Tomato Varieties

When it comes to growing tomatoes in Wisconsin, it’s important to choose the right varieties that are suited for the region. Look for tomato varieties that are hardy and can withstand cooler temperatures. Some of the most popular varieties for Wisconsin include Early Girl, Celebrity, and Cherokee Purple. Consider planting a mix of heirloom and hybrid varieties to add diversity to your garden.

Start Seeds Indoors

Tomatoes require a long growing season, and Wisconsin’s short summers can make it difficult to get a good harvest. Starting seeds indoors in late winter or early spring can help you get a jump start on the season. Use a seed starting mix and keep the soil moist until the seeds germinate. Once the seedlings have sprouted, make sure they get plenty of sunlight and keep the soil moist.

Prepare the Soil

Tomatoes grow best in well-draining soil that’s rich in organic matter. Before planting, amend your soil with compost, aged manure, or other organic materials to improve its quality. Tomatoes also prefer a slightly acidic soil with a pH between 6.0 and 6.8. Test your soil pH with a kit from your local garden center and adjust as needed.

Plant at the Right Time

In Wisconsin, it’s best to wait until the danger of frost has passed before planting your tomatoes. This is usually around late May or early June, depending on your location. If you started your seeds indoors, make sure to harden off the seedlings by gradually exposing them to outdoor conditions over the course of a week or two.

Provide Support Tomatoes are vines and need support to grow tall and strong. Use stakes, cages, or trellises to support your plants and prevent them from falling over. If you’re using cages, make sure they’re large enough to accommodate the full size of your plants. You can also use tomato clips or twine to tie your plants to their supports.

Water Regularly

Tomatoes need regular watering to thrive. Keep the soil consistently moist, but not waterlogged. Inconsistent watering can cause problems like blossom end rot and splitting. Avoid getting the leaves wet when watering, as this can lead to fungal diseases. Water at the base of the plant instead.

Mulch

Mulching around your tomato plants can help retain moisture in the soil and prevent weeds from growing. Use a thick layer of straw, leaves, or other organic materials to mulch around your plants. Avoid using plastic mulch, as it can trap moisture and heat and lead to fungal diseases.

Fertilize

Tomatoes are heavy feeders and require regular fertilization to grow strong and produce fruit. Use a balanced fertilizer with a higher phosphorus content to promote flowering and fruiting. Apply fertilizer every two to three weeks throughout the growing season, following the instructions on the package.

Following these tips, will give you the ability to successfully grow delicious, juicy tomatoes in Wisconsin. With a little bit of planning and much luck, you’ll be able to enjoy tomatoes right off the vine all summary and into the fall. 

Now that we have a plan, it’s time to down and dirty.  This is when the fun begins.

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