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Posted by: Kim_Hamilton on 02/11/2008 08:44 AM Updated by: Kim_Hamilton on 02/11/2008 08:52 AM
Expires: 01/01/2013 12:00 AM
:

How to Choose The Ideal Garden Site~By Ken Churches

Now is the time of year when our minds begin to contemplate planting a garden. Choosing a garden site is one of the most important decisions any gardener will make. The ideal location for a vegetable garden is a level, well-drained site, with full sunlight all day. There should be good air circulation and the soil should be loose, dark-colored and fertile....



Few gardeners are lucky enough to have such a perfect spot. To help you make the best possible garden site from a less than ideal situation, here are some tips:

* Avoid placing the garden in a low spot where water or air drain poorly. Such areas are slow to warm up in the spring. A gradually sloping hillside with southern exposure is preferable to a low, level area where there is no air drainage. A southern exposure receives the maximum amount of sunlight through the growing season.
* Choose a site with a minimum of six hours of direct sunlight each day (10 to 12 hours is ideal) in the spring and summer. This means planting vegetables away from buildings, trees and other objects that would shade the garden area. If part of the garden must be in the shade, grow lettuce or cool cole crops such as cabbage, broccoli and kale.
* Examine the potential garden site to see how well the soil drains. Avoid areas that remain soggy after a rain. Loamy or sandy loam soil is preferable to a heavy clay soil. Solve minor drainage problems by adding large amounts of organic matter to the soil. Adding sand to clay will only turn the soil into concrete.
* Locate the garden away from trees and shrubs. Their roots will rob vegetables of nutrients and water.
* Look for a site that supports lush vegetative growth, even if it is in the form of dark green sturdy weeds. If weeds won't grow in an area, vegetables probably won't grow there either.
* Consider the distance to the nearest water source. A nearby easy-to-use water supply is important. Watering is crucial at planting time and during the heat of the summer. If watering is a hassle, the desire to keep the garden going may vanish.
* Pay heed to how far the vegetable garden is to your back door. The closer the garden is to the kitchen, the more you will use those fresh vegetables, fruits, herbs and flowers.

This article adapted from Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service, USDA. Please contact the Farm Advisor’s office at cdcalaveras@ucdavis.edu or 754-6477 with your agricultural questions. Talk to a certified Master Gardener every Wednesday, 10:00-12:00, 754-2880.



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