Q. I am a first time vegetable gardener. How should I prepare for planting vegetables? — Denise, Cayucos
A. Diagram your garden on paper first. Choose a site that is as close to your home as possible. By planting close to your home, you will spend more time in the garden and not have to carry tools as far. Your site should receive at least eight hours of sunlight a day; make sure you have a convenient source of water.
If you are planting at the ground level, you’ll need to prepare the soil.
Till the soil to at least six inches, and then mix in some bags of soil amendment. Grade the plot to make it as level as you can.
The amendment will loosen the soil, make it easier to start seeds and seedlings, will allow for even distribution of moisture and retain moisture longer — and it will make weed control less daunting. If you have built raised beds, a good planter mix will be adequate without amending.
Being spring, you will be planting warm season crops.
Most local nurseries sell plants and seeds that do well in your location, but it’s important to be aware of what grows well in your climate.
For example, the climate in Cayucos is so mild that you can grow lettuces, kale, celery, radishes, carrots, and other vegetables practically yearround. Some tomatoes will do well in Cayucos, such as the San Francisco fog hybrid. However, you may not be successful with corn, which requires more heat.
Consider reliable techniques for maximizing the production of your new garden. Trellising and staking are recommended for some crops such as beans, cucumbers, and squash. Tomato cages are also very effective.
Setting up an efficient water system is important, but it is absolutely essential during this historic drought. Whether you choose drip, micro sprinklers, or soaker hoses and kale or corn, there are more factors involved in planting and watering responsibly. For more gardening and irrigation management tips, visit http://cagardenweb.ucanr.edu/Drought_/