Articles by Jim Gainan

As published in the Billings Gazette

Gardening Today: Vegetable Gardening In Yellowstone County

Vegetable Gardening in Yellowstone County

Planning Your Vegetable Garden

By growing vegetables the new, wide-row way, you can expect your garden to yield 2 to 3 times more than the conventional, single row way - in the same amount of space!

Make your walkways wide enough for working and cultivating. This plan allows for 16 inch walkways.

Mulch soil between plants and rows. "Heat Crops" like tomatoes, peppers, and squash thrive under a mulch or porous landscape fabric, which warms the soil, retains moisture, and prevents weed growth. "Cool Crops," such as cabbage and peas, grow better under an organic mulch.

ROW 1. Full row of staked or trellised tomatoes, but plant more than one variety. Three teepees of pole beans and four half rows of corn.

ROW 2. Half row of summer squash or zucchini. Half row of trellised cucumbers.

ROW 3. Plant your favorite three: cabbage, cauliflower, egg plant, peppers, broccoli.

ROW 4. Bush snap beans; half row of green, half row of yellow. Or plant half row of bush shell beans. Follow snap beans with second planting of carrots and lettuce.

ROW 5. Two varieties of peas- one early, one later. Follow with second planting of snap beans or peas.

ROW 6. Your favorite combination of any three: beets, turnips, rutabaga and kohlrabi.

ROW 7. Half row each of carrots and chard.

ROW 8. Any combination of onion seeds, sets or plants, plus leeks, shallots and garlic.

ROW 9. Spinach, leaf lettuce and a couple varieties of head lettuce. Follow with beets and greens, such as collards, kale and mustard for fall harvest.

ROW 10. Herbs, such as parsley, chives, basil, dill, oregano and rosemary, or a flower border.


Irrigating Vegetable Gardens
How often you should water your vegetable garden depends on several factors; the type of crops, age and size of plants, type of soil, and the weather. Different vegetables require different amounts of water. For example, leafy crops like lettuce needs more moisture than root crops like beets. Young seedlings, too, must be watered more often to keep their limited root zone moist.

The type of soil determines how often you must water. Clay soil will hold more moisture and release it more slowly than sandy soil. An organic mulch, such as grass clippings or compost, will delay evaporation of top layer of soil. Rain will obviously affect how often to water. Cool, cloudy weather allows any soil to stay moist longer.