By Lewis Jett
WVU Extension Specialist
In West Virginia, we garden to grow fresh, nutritious food that can be enjoyed year-round. Successful gardeners always plan before planting. A successful garden plan includes site location, crop selections, planting arrangements, succession plantings, season extension, interplanting, rotations, and projected harvest dates.
Gardens are a great place to mix and match different fruits, herbs, and vegetables. Alternating vertical, highgrowing plants with compact, low-growing plants generally results in less pest invasion.
Trellising is a method in which a crop is trained to grow on a man-made structure or companion plant. Trellising vegetables has many benefits, including ease of harvest, better pest management, more efficient pollination, and space efficiency. Popular vegetables that are amenable to trellising include half-runner or pole beans, peas, cucumbers, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and some varieties of miniature cantaloupes. Trellises can be constructed of strings, poles, stakes, wooden lattice, woven wire, or netting. A trellis can be constructed so that the trellised plant provides shade for cool-season vegetables, such as lettuce, spinach, parsley, carrots, or chard.
Interplanting is planting two or more crops in the same space. Interplanting a climbing or trailing bean with sweet corn or popcorn is an excellent way to use a taller, vertical plant as a scaffold for a climbing vegetable. Interplanting a shade-tolerant vegetable with a tall vegetable is also an excellent way to produce more vegetables in a limited space. For example, lettuce planted under or between tomato plants is a successful interplanting combination. Spinach can be interplanted with peas and other tall vegetables. Vining plants, such as cucumbers, can be interplanted with tall vegetable plants, such as okra.
Succession planting is planting vegetables over the course of the growing season to ensure a continual supply. For example, sweet corn can be seeded every two weeks beginning in May through early July for season-long harvest. Other vegetables that can be planted in succession include lettuce, cucumbers, summer squash, beans, and carrots.
Hang in there. Spring is around the corner and soon the snow will be gone.