Plant your summer vegetable garden

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The size of your garden depends on the space available, the time you have for gardening and the dietary needs of your family. Generally one seed packet will fill a 15 foot row for many crops.

Small gardens: When planning a garden of 15 x 15 feet or less, the goal is to produce as much as possible in a small space. Be clear about your family’s needs for specific vegetables and avoid the temptation to grow crops that need a lot of space like corn, melons and pumpkins. List the crops to be grown, specific plant spacing, trellis needs, approximate planting and harvest dates, and bed widths.

Average gardens: An average sized 25 x 30 foot garden can include corn and melons along with smaller space plants in larger quantities or sequential plantings of the same crop for a longer growing season.

Large gardens: A large garden can include all of the above plus room to plant crops such as sweet potatoes, perennial crops such as artichokes and asparagus, and several varieties of melons, pumpkins, and winter squash.

When and what to plant: California has a unique vegetable growing climate and we can grow many types of vegetable crops throughout the year. Crops are classified as either warm season or cool season crops. It is important to plant each crop at the right time of year for easy growth, successful plant development and optimum yield.

Cool season crops grow best and produce the best quality when average temperatures are 55 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. They generally tolerate light frosts. Plants in this group include root crops such as: beets, carrots, parsnips, radishes and turnips; stalks such as asparagus and white potato; leafy crops like cabbage, celery, lettuce, onion, and spinach; and plants whose immature floral parts we eat, like broccoli, cauliflower, and artichokes.

Warm season vegetables grow best on long, warm days between 65 and 95 degrees F. These include crops with ripe fruits such as tomatoes, cantaloupe, winter squash and watermelon or immature fruits such as corn, squash and snap beans.

There are many resources to help you plan the perfect garden for your home and family. Download more information and our guide to planting local vegetables at ucanr.edu/sites/UC_Master_Gardeners/Local_Gardening_Articles_-_Info/Vegetable_Gardening.

Find out when to sow and transplant cool and warm season crops and their approximate harvest times.

The number one rule of vegetable gardening is to plant only as large a garden as you can easily maintain. That said, consider including an extra row to share with your neighborhood, church, or local food bank.

The Master Gardeners will be live to answer your questions on Saturday March 12 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Luis Nursery in Visalia. You can also contact them at 559-684-3325, or visit their website at ucanr.edu/sites/UC_Master_Gardeners.

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