Designing a Specialty Vegetable Garden
Grow what you can't buy, and cultivate your taste buds with specialty vegetables from the garden. Design a vegetable patch for your own heirlooms, local favorites, ethnic cuisine ingredients and perennials such as artichokes and horseradish.
- Ask about seed and plant sources where you shop for specialty vegetables - a local grower may share starts of locally adapted varieties.
- Share your surplus with friends, or sell it for profit at ethnic restaurants.
- List the plants you want to grow, and learn about them. Investigate their needs and compare these to your growing conditions, then set realistic goals.
- Pick a sunny site with ready access to water for your specialty vegetable garden. Be sure the soil can be amended to drain well, or plan to build a raised bed.
- Measure the space available and draw it on graph paper. Lots of room? Make it 6 feet square with a 1-foot path down the middle to create two planting beds each 6 feet long and 2 1/2 feet wide.
- Draw those two beds and their path to sketch a total growing space 12 feet by 2 1/2 feet - room for five staples of Caribbean cuisine and your uncle's heirloom beans plus a few artichokes. Design for just one favorite or make your own combinations.
- Estimate the number of plants you can fit in based on their mature size. Then design for the longest harvest possible - draw in early varieties interplanted with later ones.
- Design trellises into the garden to maximize space for snow peas. Add permanent hoops to support floating row covers, shade cloth or plastic-film season extenders.
- Modify a popular design: Chinese specialty vegetables plus perennial favorites horseradish and asparagus. Double dig the northeast corner of the garden for the longer-lived perennials.
- Cultivate delicate local favorites that are grown for unparalleled flavor but are impossible to ship.
- Design a space in your garden to leave room for the unexpected package of pass-along peas.