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Vegetable Gardening Overview


Presentation used in general and advanced training.

Presentation used in general and advanced training.

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  • A good rotation spaces pest susceptible crops at intervals the will hinder the buildup of pests in the field.Rotations can also be used to control weeds. “Cleaning crops” such as potatoes, pumpkins and winter squash eradicate problem weeds through hilling or the extensive crop cover. Herbicides may be used in some crops to control weeds that are problematic to other crops in which the herbicide is not registered. Some crops are more efficient at using less soluble forms of plant nutrients. Less-evolved crops such as cabbage are more efficient at doing this than highly developed crops like lettuce and cucumbers. The variety in rooting depths and the extent of the root system will improve and maintain good soil structure. Sweet corn and squash require deep cultivation and a high level of soil organic matter. Beans and peas are legumes capable of fixing nitrogen from the atmosphere, so they will not need additional fertilizer but still require deep cultivation. Root crops such as radishes, carrots, beets, turnips, and rutabagas also require deep cultivation for proper root development, but the addition of manure and too much organic matter will cause the roots to become disfigured. And cabbage and other cole crops require a firm soil with an alkaline pH to avoid succumbing to clubroot.Also, try to plan the rotation so that successive crops benefit from their predecessor. For example, sweet corn is a heavy feeder so it’s best to plant sweet corn in an area where peas or beans were the previous year because these crops add nitrogen to the soil. Potatoes and vine crops are easy to weed and will “clean” the soil, thereby reducing weed problems in subsequent onion and root crops that are not easily weeded and have a small canopy to shade out weeds.


  • 1. Vegetable Gardening Overview
  • 2. Karen Delahaut, original author
    Mike Maddox, updates
    Vegetable Gardening Overview
  • 3. Portland, OR
    Community Garden
  • 4. Portland, OR
    Vertical Gardening / Community Garden
  • 5. Kansas City, MO
    Urban Agriculture
  • 6. Madison, WI
    West Madison Agriculture Research Station
  • 7. Janesville, WI
    Rock County Farm / Community Garden
  • 8. Proximity to trees
    Site Selection
  • 9. Proximity to Trees
    Trees and shrubs may compete for the same resources as your garden: light, water, and nutrients.
    Walnut trees may prove extra harmful due to juglone production.
  • 10. Light
    Necessary for photosynthesis
    6+ hours for most vegetable crops
    Flower initiation
    Bulbing & tuber formation
  • 11. Light
    Short day plants
    Sweet potato forms tubers as days grow shorter
  • 12. Light
    Long day plants- flower when light exceeds a certain number of hours.
    Lettuce, spinach, radish
    Some onions form bulbs with long days
    Most N. varieties
  • 13. Light
    Day neutral plants- flowers not related to light
    Cucumber, peas, beans, peppers
  • 14. Light
    Too much light
    Defoliation exposing fruit to hot sun
  • 15. Soil
    Well drained soils are necessary
    Be able to work down to 6 or 7 inches
    Best to till in the fall
    Saves soil structure
    Ground is ready to plant in spring
    Remove large stones, clods, plant debris
    Particularly important with root crops
  • 16. Soil
    Remove grass/ weeds for new gardens
    Amending soil
    Add 2 to 4 inches compost or OM
    Cover crops / green manures
    Raised beds / containers
    If soil isn’t conducive for garden
  • 17. Soil
    Soil test
    Best done in fall
    Repeat every 3 years
    Sample 6-7 inches deep in 5+ areas of garden
    Soil pH (6.0 to 6.8)
    Organic matter (OM)
  • 18. Soil
    Benefits of adding organic matter
    Improves water retention / soil structure
    Increases soil fertility
    Increases Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC)
    Ability to hold nutrients
    Reduces fertilization requirements
    Enhances microbial activity
    Pathogen suppression
    Accelerates breakdown of pesticides and other synthetic compounds
  • 19. Soil
    Manure or debris in soil
  • 20. Adding Compost
    Add 2-4 inches of compost
  • 21. Cover Crops & Green Manures
    Rye is used as a green-manure and double-dug into the ground .
  • 22. Raised beds
    Untreated lumber should be used for construction.
    Beds should be at least 12 inches deep for adequate rooting.
    Compost and soil were used as the medium.
  • 23. Mulch
    Mulches can be used to conserve moisture, suppress weeds and diseases, and add organic matter to the garden.
    Straw is used in this picture.
  • 24. To till or not to till?
  • 25. Topography
    Local terrain affects choices on garden positioning.
  • 26. Access
  • 27. Season length
    Season extension
    Cool & warm season crops
    Seasonal Considerations
  • 28. Season Length
    Last killing frost of spring?
    Northern Wisconsin:
    Average May 24 to June 6
    Mid state:
    Average May 9 to May 23
    Southern Wisconsin:
    Average April 26 to May 9
  • 29. Season Length
    First killing frost of autumn?
    Northern Wisconsin:
    Average September 13 to September 27
    Mid state:
    Average September 27 to October 10
    Southern Wisconsin:
    September 27 to October 24
  • 30. Season Length
  • 31. Cool & Warm Season Crops
    • Warm-season seeds may rot in cold soils
    • 32. Cool season seeds may have heat-induced dormancy
  • Cool & Warm Season Crops
    Plants with a long growing season can be started indoors and then transplanted outdoors when the weather is conducive for their growth.
    Pumpkins, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant
    Transplants of cool season plants can be planted early in the spring and are tolerant to the colder temperatures.
    Cole crops
  • 33. Season Extension
    Black landscape fabric is used to warm the soil in the spring. Tomatoes are planted through the fabric.
  • 34. Season Extension
    Walls-o-Water can be used in the early spring to protect warm-season transplants.
  • 35. Season Extension
  • 36. Season Extension
    Summer planting of radish seeds; screen provides shade to cool soil and avoid heat-induced dormancy.
  • 37. Season Extension
    Floating row covers can protect crops from frost.
  • 38. Season Extension
    Cold frame used to harden off plants in the spring.
  • 39. Size of mature plant
    Days to harvest
    Heirlooms and hybrids
    Disease resistance
    Seed saving
    Variety Selection
  • 40. Variety Selection
    Size of mature plant
    Bush vs Pole bean
    Bush vs Vine
    Determinate vs Indeterminate
    Fruit size?
  • 41. Days to Harvest
    Pay particular attention to long season plants
  • 42. Heirloom
    Old-fashioned varieties
    Selected for flavor
    Not selected for disease resistance, uniformity or storage
    In-bred seeds, may be appropriate for seed saving
  • 43. Hybrids
    Grown for:
    Pest resistance
    Seeds may not be appropriate for saving
    Progeny of F1 may not be true-to-type or uniform.
    AA x aa = Aa (F1)
    Aa x Aa = Aa, AA, aa (F2)
  • 44. Hybrids
  • 45. Disease Resistance
    Select resistant varieties if practical
    No one variety is resistant to all diseases of that vegetable
    Seed catalogs will indicate varieties are resistant
  • 46. Seed Saving
    Some diseases are carried on or in the seed
    Don’t save seed from cross pollinated plants
    Especially vine crops!
    Self pollinated crops include
    Beans, eggplant, peas, pepper, tomato
  • 47. Timing
    Direct seeding & transplants
    Spacing & thinning
    Succession planting
    Crop rotation
  • 48. Timing
    Succession planting
    Make the most of our short growing season!
    Days to harvest important
    Plant late season crops after early season crops are harvested
    Multiple plantings of a single crop
    Multiple cultivars with different days to maturity
  • 49. Timing
    Early Season Crops
    Long Season Crops
    Late Season Crops
    Early Beets
    Early Cabbage
    Onion Sets
    Early Spinach
    Sweet Corn
    Swiss Chard
    Bush Beans
    Chinese Cabbage
  • 50. Timing
    … summer…
    … fall
    Plant in spring…
  • 51. Timing
    Plant Week 1
    Plant Week 6
    Plant Week 4
  • 52. Timing
    Plant all at same time
  • 53. Transplants vs Direct Seeding
    Direct Seed
  • 54. Transplants vs Direct Seeding
    Direct Seed
    Necessary for long season and some cool season crops
    Basil, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, Chinese cabbage, cauliflower, celery, chard, chives, collards, eggplant, endive, escarole, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, mustard, okra, onions, parsley, peppers, tomatoes
    Useful for crops that do not transplant well and crops that will mature within the growing season
    Beans, beets, carrots, corn, cucumbers, garlic, lettuce, micro greens, muskmelons, okra, parsnips, peas, pumpkins, radishes, rutabaga, salsify, squash, turnips, watermelon
  • 55. Transplanting
    Transplant on cloudy days to minimize sun scald.
    Water well after transplanting.
    Plant at the same depth as in the pot. (exception: tomatoes)
  • 56. Direct Seeding
    Space seeds as recommended on the packet.
    Dense planting will promote disease.
    Small-seeded crops will need thinning:CarrotsRadishesBeetsLettuce
  • 57. Spacing & Thinning
  • 58. Maintenance
    Crop rotation
    Pest Control
  • 59. Crop Rotation
  • 60. Crop Rotation
    Potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant are all members of the solanaceous family.
    Beans and peas are legumes.
    Cucumbers, melons, pumpkins, and squash are all cucurbits.
    Radishes, rutabagas, and turnips are all cole crops just like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts.
    Onions, garlic, leeks, shallots, chives are alliums.
    Crop rotations of at least 4 years are recommended.
  • 61. Crop Rotation
    Insect & disease management
    Weed management
    Nutrient demands
    Increased soil nitrogen
    Benefits of the preceding crops
    Improved physical condition of the soil
    Increased microbial activity
    Increased release of CO2
    Excretion of beneficial substances
  • 62. Crop Rotation
    Group crops according to which diseases they are susceptible to
    Alternate root vegetables and vegetables with shallow roots: this will improve the soil structure
    If you use interplanting (planting different vegetables together in the same bed), use the main crop in your rotation plan
    Remember tomatoes and potatoes are both members of the nightshade family: don’t plant one to follow the other
    Plant brassicas and leafy greens to follow legumes: they like the added nitrogen
    Beware of planting carrots or beetroot in direct succession to a legume
  • 63. Interplanting
    Potatoes and cabbage rows
  • 64. Watering
  • 65. Watering
    Matching water application to plant needs.
    Based on
    Soil type
    Crop requirements
    Growth stage
    Experience and soil examination are best measures.
    Rain gauge
    Don’t base watering on crop appearance.
  • 66. Watering
    Vegetables may need 1 to 2 inches per week, depending on the weather. Overhead watering may promote diseases.
  • 67. Mulching
    Mulching with an organic material can suppress weeds and conserve moisture in the garden.
  • 68. Insects
    Colorado Potato Beetle
  • 69. Insects
  • 70. Diseases
    Early Blight (left)
    Late Blight(right)
  • 71. Diseases
  • 72. Weeds
  • 73. Harvesting
    Harvest early in the day
    Prevent wounds
    Discard culls
    Cool the vegetables quickly & thoroughly
  • 74. Harvesting
    Submerging vegetables for 15 to 20 minutes in water can remove unwanted field heat.
  • 75. Preserving
    UWEX Publications (http://learningstore.uwex.edu)
    Harvesting Vegetables from the Home Garden
    Freezing fruits and vegetables
    Canning vegetables safely