Planning Your Garden Series

Planning Your Garden

Good planning is essential to a successful vegetable garden. Vegetables have specific requirements and you must choose your site carefully to ensure a bountiful harvest. Here are the basics you need to consider before you select your seeds.

Test Your Soil

Drainage is the soil’s ability to absorb moisture and let excess water drain away. You can test soil drainage by digging a hole a foot deep and a foot across. Fill the holes with water, and time how long it takes the water to drain away; two to three hours after the hole has emptied, refill it, and again time the interval it takes for it to empty. Then calculate the rate of drainage by dividing the total depth of the water (24 inches) by the total number of hours it took for the hole to empty two times.

An average rate of an inch of water lost per hour makes a “well-drained” soil, which is best for vegetable plants. A substantially faster rate is typical of a “sharply drained” soil, one that dries out quickly, and unless enriched with water-retaining compost, is suitable mainly for drought-tolerant plants. A drainage rate markedly slower than an inch per hour indicates poorly drained soil, which will probably drown the roots of most plants.


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