Do you want to start a garden this year? Here are 10 tips for growing vegetables in New England.
Since we have a somewhat short growing season in New England we need to make the most of it. Here are a few easy tips for growing vegetables in New England for a successful gardening season and the best results.
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Here are some tips for growing vegetables in a New England climate:
1. Know Your Grow Zone
New England has varying climates, and knowing your growing zone can help you choose the best vegetables to grow and when to plant them. The northern parts of Maine are zone 4 and the southern parts of Connecticut are zone 7 so there are many microclimates in our part of the country.
The USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map can help you figure out what zone you live in. This is important because you need to know your last frost date so you can start planting.
There are cool-weather crops that can be planted before the last frost date but garden favorites like tomatoes and peppers won’t make it if there is a surprise freeze one night…and you know that even if we’ve had a string of warm days that doesn’t mean Mother Nature won’t throw a curveball our way!
Also, you need to read the tags on your perennials and shrubs to see if they are hardy enough to survive the winter where you live.
2. Start Indoors or Buy Plants
Many vegetables need a longer growing season than the New England climate can provide, so starting seeds indoors and transplanting them outside when the weather warms up can help you get a head start on the growing season.
This would be the basic garden vegetable plants like tomatoes and peppers. There is not enough growing time in New England to start them outdoors by seed and have time for them to produce a harvest.
Cucumbers, Summer squash, & beans you can start by direct sowing the seeds so don’t bother with buying those plants. They are all quick to germinate and grow.
If you don’t have the space or desire to start seeds indoors, no worries…you can find so many varieties of vegetable plants at your local nursery or home improvement stores now even compared to 5 years ago. I’m lucky enough to have a fantastic farm stand around the corner from me that has such an amazing selection of vegetable plants!
How to start seeds for your garden.
3. Choose Cold-Tolerant Vegetables:
The cool New England temperatures are perfect for planting cold-weather vegetables.
Some vegetables, such as lettuces, spinach, and broccoli, snow peas/sugar snaps are better suited to cooler temperatures and can be planted earlier in the spring and later in the fall.
As soon as the soil is workable you can start your snow peas and sugar snaps.
Learn more about early Spring vegetable gardening.
4. Use Raised Beds for Growing Vegetables:
New England soil can be rocky and acidic, so using raised beds filled with nutrient-rich soil can help ensure your plants have the best growing conditions.
Plus the soil in raised beds warms up quicker in the Spring than the ground making your plants happier.
This garden has grown quite a bit. See how I expanded my garden to have more space to grow more vegetables and flowers.
shop raised beds
5. Add Compost
Adding compost to your soil can help improve soil quality and provide essential nutrients for your vegetables. Especially if you are starting with less than optimal soil.
6. Mulch Your Vegetable Garden
Mulching around your plants can help retain moisture in the soil, prevent weeds, and regulate soil temperature.
Mulching really helps to keep that moisture in the soil on those scorching days in July & August.
In my garden, I use grass clippings for the vegetable plants that I plant directly into the soil like my tomato and pepper plants. Salt marsh hay is another great New England option for mulching your garden.
Mulched leaves and straw are also good choices for mulching your vegetable garden.
7. Water Your Garden Regularly
Vegetables need consistent moisture to grow, so make sure to water your plants regularly, especially during dry spells.
Usually, we are lucky enough to have enough natural rainfall in the Summer months that we don’t have to go out and water that often.
Cucumbers can become bitter from heat stress and drought so make sure they are getting plenty of water during dry spells.
When you are watering your vegetable garden concentrate on the base of the plants and try to avoid the leaves.
8. Protect From Garden Pests:
New England has its fair share of pests, so protect your vegetables with netting, row covers, or other barriers to keep them safe from insects and animals.
I use row covers on my broccoli & cauliflower plants to keep those pesky cabbage worms from destroying them. Using row covers deters the adult butterflies from laying eggs on them.
Sometimes you have to get creative to save your vegetables from critters. I’ve used chicken wire over the top of a raised bed to deter a pesky bunny from munching. I’ve also wrapped the base of my green bean tower with chicken wire to save my beans.
9. Rotate Your Vegetable Crops
Different vegetable plants are susceptible to different pests and diseases, and these can build up in the soil over time.
Planting different crops in different locations each year can help prevent soil-borne diseases and keep your soil healthy.
By rotating crops, you can break up pest and disease cycles, reduce the buildup of soil-borne pathogens, and prevent the spread of diseases from one year to the next.
10. Harvest Regularly
Regularly harvesting your vegetables can encourage them to keep producing. Plus after all that hard work don’t you want to enjoy your fresh, homegrown produce at its peak flavor and nutrition?
SHOP MY GARDEN FAVORITES:
Shop my gardening favorites! Raised beds, plant supports, & tools to make your garden grow.
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Grow With Me Gardening Series
This is part of the Grow With Me Gardening Series here at Cottage On Bunker Hill. I want to teach you ways of starting, maintaining, and enjoying gardening. I will share all the tips & tricks that I have learned over the years growing both vegetable and flower gardens here in the Northeast.
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Happy Gardening! – Jennifer