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Home > Types of Gardening > Vegetable Gardening
Vegetable Gardening
Planning the Vegetable G.. Making the Vegetable Gar.. Soil Preparation
Vegetable GardeningConsidering that perhaps the outstanding advantage of living in the country, a small town, a village or even a city suburb is that we can have a garden, it seems strange that so many of us limit our plantings to lawns, flowers, and other ornamentals and rely largely, if not wholly, upon canned goods, frozen foods and vegetables that we buy in markets and stores or from hucksters and market gardeners. Of these four sources, the last two are the more desirable because their products are likely to be fresher than those of the others. But all four are open to the objection that practically all the produce they sell is such as will withstand rough handling and necessarily of tougher fibre than similar goods which, grown in home gardens, do not have to be shipped or handled much.

No matter how varied an assortment modern markets can offer nowadays, and no matter how high the quality of the frozen foods that are becoming increasingly available, there are four outstanding reasons for devoting a moderate amount of our garden space to home grown crops. First, a garden can supply us with fresher vegetables than we can buy; second, it can give us most vegetables in the finest stage of development, impossible when they are bought; third, we can grow higher quality varieties than commercial growers usually attempt; and, fourth, we can grow kinds that we never, or rarely, see offered for sale.

Freshness is of prime importance in all plants whose leaves we eat raw, as lettuce, endive, garden cress. We can have them on our table before they would be large enough to gather for sale; indeed, the thinning are as good as the more mature crops, if not better. And we can use them within a few minutes of their being gathered, while they are plump and crisp and full of the delicate, evanescent flavors that make them delicious as well as beneficial in the menu.

Stage of development, also important with salad plants, is even more so in the case of vegetables whose fruits we eat. Only the home gardener can put on his table tomatoes that have attained full ripeness on the plant; cucumbers firm with moisture and whose seeds are still soft; muskmelons gathered at just the right moment (when little cracks show between the stems and the fruits), then ripened for a day or two before being chilled and served; garden peas and sweet corn, neither immature nor too old, whose sugars and aromas have not been lost in their short journey from garden to stove to table.

These two vegetables especially lose their deliciousness rapidly between gathering and using, because their sugars change into starch and other tasteless compounds.

Asparagus, too, we can "snap off" so that every particle is edible instead of just a green bud at the end of a tough, woody stalk.

High quality is rarely found in commercial varieties because it is generally associated with fine texture and thin skin which do not make good shippers; it is also often found in varieties characterized by small size, long period of ripening, or relatively unattractive appearance, such as commercial growers are not interested in. But since we eat not only to sustain life, but also to get reasonable pleasure while doing so, we can well confine our selection of sorts to grow to those definitely suited to the small, amateur garden. When making up a list of vegetable kinds {not varieties) to grow, it is a good plan to follow a typical seed catalogue index so as not to overlook any.

You might use a filing card for each kind and under the name (bean, corn, pea, etc.) write the variety or varieties you plan to grow and any cultural notes. Your choice will depend on: First, the family appetite; second, the amount of space the plants require (you`ll probably omit winter squash and pumpkin); third, those that you can obtain in just as good quality elsewhere -onions, potatoes and winter cabbage; fourth, your ability and willingness to meet the requirements of certain fussy sorts or others especially susceptible to pests or diseases.

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