Simply Vegetable Gardening by Cygnet Brown

Index Admin
By Index Admin June 8, 2014 14:21

Simply Vegetable Gardening by Cygnet Brown


With food costs rising sharply every time we step into a grocery store, it is time everyone started a garden. This book shows you how. Learn to start a vegetable garden using healthful, easy to grow vegetables, and extend your harvest from early spring through winter.

This guide shows the best ways the author has found to grow healthful vegetables from the moment the ground thaws in the spring until the ground freezes again in the winter. Cygnet Brown is not a novice gardener. She has over forty years of practical gardening experience under her belt. For her, organic gardening principles are not simply a philosophy, they are a way of life. Without using chemical fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides, she has managed to grow many of the family’s groceries and has improved her corner of the planet’s soil in the process. Her use of this natural, practical philosophy stems from the premise that “healthy soil produces healthy plants”.

The author has rated this book G (all ages).


Garden Location

Whenever I have started one of my gardens, the first task in vegetable gardening that I had to accomplish was to determine the ideal location for my garden and how much area I wanted to devote to it.

If you are new to gardening or you have not been gardening in your current location before, planting a small garden rather than a large will give you better results because you will better be able to supply the time and resources for making your garden a success. If this is your first garden, limit yourself to a small 5×8 foot bed and learn to make the most of that garden space. Place the bed so that one end is to the east and the other end is toward the west giving the garden a north-south orientation. Put up vertical support down the middle of the plot. On the north side of the bed, you will plant cool weather loving plants. On the south side of the plot, you will plant warm weather loving plants. For instance, if you plan to grow both cool weather-loving peas and warm weather-loving tomatoes, plant peas on the cool weather loving side of the vertical fence as soon as the soil can be worked. Later, after all danger of frost is past, Plant tomatoes on the south side of the vertical support.

Ideally, the best place for your garden is a location that has at least six hours of sunlight per day, well drained, and contains rich garden soil. Therefore, what do you do if you have is a shady back yard with hard-packed dead rock and clay subsoil that water runs off?

Some isolated spots in your garden may have the full six hours so you can grow specific plants in those locations. To make the best of what I have, I learn to work around these types of obstacles. For instance, spring leaf lettuces although they may grow slowly actually do fine in the shade and may actually do better during the summer in a shady location than the bright sun. Peas or beets can be planted and begin growing before the leaves come out on the surrounding trees and then allowed to grow and harvested in the trees’ shade.

As you will see, there are a number of vegetables that you can grow in the shade, however, what can you do if you want to grow a vegetable that does not like the shade. This is where your imagination and determination comes in.  For instance, what if you want to grow tomatoes, but you do not have any area around your house that offers six hours or more of sunlight you have to become creative.  If you really want to grow your own tomatoes, you could plant tomato plants in containers and move them from the east side of the house in the morning to the west side in the afternoon by putting it on a moving cart of some type. By rolling your tomato plant on the cart from the east side of the house to the west side, you can extend the hours of daylight for your tomatoes. Another possibility is that you could utilize mirrors or lights to lengthen your garden’s daylight. Use your imagination and experiment to discover what works for your specific situation and what does not. You would be surprised what you can accomplish is you simply learn to utilize what you have.

Vegetables you can grow in the Shade

On almost every vegetable seed packet that I have ever read, says that the vegetable needs full sun that is at least six hours of direct sunlight per day.  I mentioned in the last section that some vegetables exist that can grow and grow well in the filtered light of the shade.

During the first couple of months after the soil can be worked in the spring, leaves  are not yet on the trees so that any plants planted in the garden where it is shaded by deciduous trees during the summer will have full sun during the plants early and fastest growth. Once the trees get their leaves, the growth of the plants will slow down, but they also will not bolt or go to seed as quickly as they would if they were planted in the full sun.

Preparing a Garden Bed for a Shade Garden

When choosing an area in which to plant your shade garden, consider what the soil looks like where you are planting. If you soil is not easy to work, or if your soil is full of roots because you are near the tree, you probably will want to use a raised bed for your shady garden. If you are planting directly under trees, put your garden bed along the outer edge of drip line of any trees. Planting too close to a tree’s trunk could cause damage to the trees and prevent the vegetable plants from getting any nutrients. If your yard has black walnut trees, do not plant under these trees as they can adversely affect your garden’s growth because the trees emit a chemical toxin that prevents anything from growing under these trees.

Making a raised bed is simple. Create a frame and fill it with planting soil. This frame can be made of untreated wood (not pressure treated or painted), or rock or brick. Your garden may also consist of containers.

Planting soil used to fill the garden bed frames can be mixed with peat moss and compost. You can want to use a garden testing kit to determine the pH and nutrient content of the soil, but I have never bothered and still have good luck with my gardening simply by adding as much composted material to my garden beds as available in any given season.

To reduce the cost of filling the garden beds, in the autumn before the spring during which I intend to plant the garden, I take small branches and leaves and pile them onto the bed. In addition, at the same time, I take raw chicken manure as well as any partially finished compost from my compost pile and pile on the bed, and then cover all of it with garden soil.  On the garden soil, I pile on more leaves and weight them down with branches. I make certain to mound all of this organic material in the bed, because the contents of the bed will settle over time. When I am ready to plant in the spring, I remove excess leaves and branches that did not break down during the winter months from the bed and add them into my compost pile or another garden bed that I have started, but do not yet intend to plant. I am usually amazed at how much the organic material has broken down over the winter even during freezing weather. I then add any soil necessary to fill the remainder of the bed and blend it into the layer of organic material in the garden. When that is done, my garden is ready to plant.

Annual Vegetables that You Can Grow in the Shade

Plant these in the shade as seeds

I mark out the rows with a trowel or hoe and sprinkle kelp into the bottom of the furrow that I made. I then lay the seed in the row at the recommended depth, and then lightly water so that the seeds do not wash away. I then cover rows of seeds with light planting medium (such as perlite or vermiculite) and water well to prevent seeds from washing away.

  • Beets- plant seeds one inch deep and three inches apart.
  • Radishes- plant seeds one half inch deep and one to two inches apart
  • Peas-soak peas in water overnight the night before planting. Plant your peas in double rows (two rows very close together). Plant six to eight inches apart on either side of five- to six-feet-tall supports made of wire between each pair of double rows.
  • Swiss Chard-plant seeds one half inch deep eight inches to a foot apart.
  • Salad greens-mesclun (mixed greens) as well as different types of leaf lettuce, spinach, turnip greens, beet greens, mustard greens, kale, plant one half inch deep and one to two inches apart. Thin early in the season and use thinnings in salads, then harvest outer leaves throughout the season. About 6 weeks before the first autumn frost, plant successive crops small amounts every week until frost. Then continue to harvest until greens are unusable. Discard any dead plants to the compost pile.

Plant these in the shade as plants

These plants take longer to grow than the previous vegetables, so I plant these in the shade garden as transplants. To plant these plants, I dig a hole in the bed at the recommended depth, and dust the hole with kelp powder. I then water the hole, and I place the plant in the planting hole and firmly but gently firm soil around the plant. I apply another dusting of kelp powder and again water. I then water these vegetable plants daily until the plants begin new growth.

  • Brussels sprouts- plant as plants one month before the last frost in the spring and then again 8-10 weeks before the first frost in the autumn.  Brussels sprouts flavor improves with frost.
  • Broccoli- plant as plants one month before last frost in the spring and then again 8-10 weeks before the first frost in the autumn.
  • Cauliflower- plant as plants one month before last frost in the spring and then again 8-10 weeks before the first frost in the autumn.

Plant these in the shade only after all danger of frost has passed

  • Bush beans (but not pole beans) are the only shade tolerant vegetables that cannot be planted before the last frost in the spring. Plant on or after the last average frost date for your area. Plant as you would other seeds. Plant one inch deep and two inches apart in double rows six inches apart. For easier picking, place each double row 18 inches from the next double row.

By making the most of what you have, you can harvest lettuces, peas, and these other vegetables from spring through fall.

Copyright© Cygnet Brown. All rights reserved.

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Index Admin
By Index Admin June 8, 2014 14:21
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