We have been enjoying a mild winter thus far here in Southern Oregon. This is a great article from our friends at Union Creek Resort on planning for a winter hike. So get out there and enjoy the “enlightening experience with the forest becoming a different world during the cold season.”
How to get outside and best enjoy cold, wet, snowy, and icy hiking conditions
Brrr, it’s cold and wet outside. Does that make you want to stay inside and curl up next to a warm fire? Or are you the type who says, “Bad weather? More like perfect weather to get outside for a hike!”?
If you’re like us and cold weather months dominate your calendar, becoming bear-like and hibernating inside isn’t always a favorable option. Sitting by a fire is nice, but getting outside and enjoying nature has its immense advantages. Here at Union Creek Resort, where deep snow is common in winter, we revel in outdoor winter activities. Local Upper Rogue River and Crater Lake hiking trails are perfect for serene winter hikes, filled with thriving creeks and rivers, cascading waterfalls, towering old growth forests, and the pristine Rogue River National Forest.
Staying inside, out of wet and cold weather, can give anyone a serious case of cabin fever, inhibit your exercise, and dampen your mood. Winter hiking can be an especially enlightening experience with the forest becoming a different world during the cold season. For starters, you can practically have the trails to yourself as fewer people brave the elements. Hiking in the rain or on snow-covered trails brings a new world of sights, sounds and smells. Rain lightly hitting Douglas fir pine needles and the forest floor is a calming, soothing sound. The muffled crunch of snow under your feet, juxtaposed with the extreme quiet of a white surrounding winter land, makes for an exhilarating, memorable experience. And the cool, clean, fresh smells filling the air just can’t be beat.
For all of its positives, cold-weather hiking does require a great deal more due diligence than fair-weather activities. Being prepared and ready for cooler temperatures and wetter environments is a must and helps guarantee a safe and fun time.
As the Boy Scouts say, Be Prepared
Before hitting the trails, you need to spend some time researching where you’re going. Consult your local library for detailed trail guides, Google search the area and specific trails, or contact the U.S. Forest Service with questions. You can also contact nearby businesses to get the very latest, and actual, information. If you’re hiking in the Union Creek or Crater Lake area, contact the Union Creek Resort at 541-560-3565 or email@example.com. If possible, talk to people who have actually hiked the trail during both nice and poor weather conditions, and find out how the trail is different in each situation.
- Study the trail. Study and bring maps (either printed or digital) and make sure you know the ins and outs of following the trail; a snow-covered or wet trail is harder to follow so make sure you learn insider tips of when it branches off in different directions, passes by landmarks, and places where it’s difficult to see. It’s also essential to find out how strenuous the trail is and how long it typically takes. You don’t want to tackle too difficult a trail in cold weather, and you want to give yourself plenty of time to finish during the daylight hours.
- Check road conditions. Some smaller roads are closed during the winter due to snowfall so make sure you are aware of any possible closures. You can also search out webcams that show current conditions and give you a visual sense of the conditions you will be hiking in.
- Weather reports. Be sure to check the latest forecasts for temperature, rain, snow, wind, and any other information you can get.
- Sunrise and sunset. Find out your optimal window of daylight hiking and be on the trail as early as possible, depending on the length of the hike. The sun sets much earlier in the winter months and you don’t want to get stuck out on the trail after sunset because of poor planning.
Plan for everything; plan for a great time.
If possible, go with hiking partners who have experience in poor weather. If you bring a friend who’s great at following snow-covered trails, or knows how to build a snow shelter when necessary, bring them along for added safety and peace of mind.
You should also let your friends and family know your trip plan, making sure they know where you’re going, how long it should take, and when you will check back in with them so they know you’re safe and sound.
Finally, make sure all of your equipment works. You don’t want to find out that your waterproof jacket is ripped, or your water bottle has a slow leak once you’re out on the trail.
If you’re specifically hiking snowy trails, snowshoes are a must and make any depth of snow manageable. Snowshoes can be rented at the Union Creek Resort Country Store. Trekking poles are also handy in slippery conditions, which include muddy, snowy, or icy trails.
Clothes may not make you, but they’ll definitely make you warmer and more comfortable.
Comfort in hiking in wet and snowy conditions requires clothing that will keep you dry and warm. You’ll need clothes, boots and accessories that wick moisture, dry quickly, are insulated, waterproof and breathable. And above all, avoid wearing cotton-based fabrics (including corduroy, denim, flannel, or duck) that hold moisture against your skin, wicks heat from your body, and don’t insulate once wet – putting you at risk of hypothermia. Wool is also to be avoided as it does not wick moisture, and instead keeps it against your skin.
With clothing, layering is key to keep a constant body temperature. When you start out, you may be cold but your body will generate heat in the first 15 minutes.
- Base layer. This layer, which touches your skin, is your moisture-wicking layer that moves moisture from your skin to outer clothing layers where it can evaporate. Typical base layers are a wicking breathable shirt or thermal layer.
- Middle layer. This is your insulating later and helps your body retain heat. Ideas include a microfleece shirt, fleece or down jacket and fleece pants.
- Outer layer/shell. Your first line of defense against the elements of rain and snow, the outer shell should be wind and waterproof.
- Socks. Time to layer again. Wear a thin, well-fitting pair next to your skin and a second, thicker set over those. Make sure the two pairs are not so thick that they make your boots too tight, which will make your feet cold.
- Boots. Wear footwear that is comfortable, waterproof, and insulated with good traction for slipper conditions. If you’re hiking exclusively in snow, a good idea is to strap on ice traction devices like Yaktrax or STABILicers that strap onto the bottom of your boots.
- Hat. Heat is lost through the top of your head, so in cold weather make sure your top is covered. Hats can also help keep rain out of your eyes or eye protection.
- Gloves/mittens. We all know how miserable it is when our hands are freezing, even if the rest of our bodies are toasty warm. We suggest two layers – one for insulation and the other for waterproofing.
- Gaiters. If you’re hiking in snow, gaiters are awesome for keeping wetness from entering your boots and ensuring your feet stay dry and warm.
- Eye protection. Glasses or goggles are great for keeping wind and water out of your eyes, as well as blocking UV rays and reflection in snowy conditions.
Now that you’re prepared for any type of weather, freezing temperatures, difficult ground conditions, and unforeseen emergencies, it’s time to hit the trail. Here are a few basic tips to remember while you’re hiking.
- Warm up. If it’s chilly when you start, job in place for a minute or so or go for a quick sprint at the trailhead. This will warm you up and get you ready for the hike.
- Stay hydrated. In cold weather, you won’t feel as thirsty but it’s important to drink constantly to avoid dehydration.
- Be careful. Icy, snowy, or wet conditions translate to slipperiness. Always be aware of where your feet are stepping and the slope of the trail. Trekking poles can really help you keep your balance in any terrain.
- Stay dry. Avoid getting unnecessarily wet, especially when crossing a stream or walking through puddle-lined trails.
And finally, don’t forget to enjoy the experience! Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in what’s wrong with a cold-weather hike, because it is, after all, a cold-weather hike. Sure it’s cooler, wetter, and possibly darker. But it’s also a memory-creating experience where you’re in the great outdoors instead of stuck inside. Enjoy the cool, fresh air, winter exercise, and beautiful scenery!
As many of you may know, Shady Cove is the largest city in the state without a municipal water supply but water is coming! If you live in Shady Cove and would like water service, you need to fill out an online Water Service Request Form from Hiland Water.
HILAND WATER CORPORATION
Silas Olson, Business Manager
|System Development Fee||2,500.00|
|Base Rate up to 7,000 gal.||50.00||a month|
|$5.00 per 1,000.00 after that||
Are you thinking of buying a home, and you aren’t sure exactly where to start? Here is a checklist to help you get ready to make your home dreams come true:
Decide where you want to live! Are you where you want to be? Generally, you will want to plan on staying in your home for at least 5-7 years in order for you investment to pay off, so it’s important to look at homes in an area that will meet your needs over the long term.
Explore the market. Once you know where you will be looking for homes, you can start to explore. Get to know the neighborhoods, the school districts, the local businesses, and community amenities.
Make a list of what you need and want. Create a list of the things in a home that are most important to you. Like the number of bedrooms/bathrooms, home features, commute times, etc. Then make a list of things that you would like to have, but aren’t as important, such as a fireplace, a large back yard, or a pool. It may help you to create a Pinterest board with your favorite home features that you can share with your agent when you’re ready to start looking.
Search for comparable houses in your market. Once you know where you’d like to buy and what type of house you’re looking for, you can start to realistically assess how much it will cost. Use an online search tool like windermere.com to see what’s for sale in your preferred neighborhood(s) and the value of the homes.
Take a good look at your finances. Once you have an idea of what homes cost, you can start figuring out how much money you need for a down payment, monthly mortgage payments, property taxes, etc. Make sure to check your credit score to ensure that everything is in order before applying for a home loan.
Develop your financial plan. Determine how much you need to save for your down payment and create a plan and timeline to achieve this goal. Outstanding debt can drag down your credit score, so make sure that paying down debt is a part of your plan.
Find a real estate agent! Once you’ve met your financial goals, it’s time to find a real estate agent. The best place to start is by asking friends and family for a referral. You can also search on real estate websites, like windermere.com, to find an agent that specializes in the area you are looking to live.
Get pre-approved for your home loan. Your agent should be able to refer you to a mortgage representative who can assist with the financing of your new home. The first step is to get pre-approved so that you know exactly how much home you can afford. Not only does this allow you to refine your home search, but it can also give you a competitive advantage when there are multiple buyers bidding on the same property.
Start shopping! This process involves everything from searching for homes online to visiting open houses on the weekends. But perhaps the most important part of this process is going on a good-old-fashioned home tour with your real estate agent. Looking for homes online lets you search more efficiently, but there’s nothing like seeing the home – and its surroundings – first hand.
The bidding process. The bidding process differs from region to region and season to season, but ultimately you should look to your agent to help you develop a plan based on your priorities and financial abilities. Depending on the market where you’re buying, there could be multiple buyers bidding for the same home, so it’s a good idea to have a well thought out strategy ahead of time.
Offer acceptance & earnest money. Once a seller accepts your offer you are required to put down an earnest money deposit to show that you are committed to purchasing the house. This money is held jointly by the seller and the buyer in a trust or escrow account. The earnest money goes towards your down payment and closing costs upon the closing of the home sale.
Home inspection. Most home sales are pending until a home inspection is completed. This is when a home inspector checks the condition of a home, such as the foundation, roof, windows, insulation, electrical, and heating components. If a home inspection turns up the need for repairs, it can end up being a tool for re-negotiations with the seller.
Home appraisal. This is an all-important step to getting the financing you need for your new home. An appraisal is performed to assess the true value of a home, which in turn, determines how much a lender is willing to give you to buy it. Appraisals protect banks from getting stuck with property that's worth less than they've invested. And it protects you from paying too much for a house simply because it was love at first sight.
Purchase your home insurance. A standard homeowner’s insurance policy typically covers your home, your belongings, injury or property damage to others, and living expenses if you are unable to live in your home temporarily because of an insured disaster.
Closing! The closing marks the final step of the home purchase process. This is when the deed to a property is legally transferred from the seller to the buyer who then takes possession of the home. In simple terms, this is when you get the keys to your new home and you can officially move in.
If you have any additional questions about the home buying process, contact us at 541-878-2249.
What's not to like about fall time in the Rogue Valley? Cool brisk morings, rain, colorful foliage…it's one of the most beautiful times on the year. In preparation for fall, check out this home maintenance checklist.
Here’s Your Fall Home Maintenance Checklist:
Fall is an ideal time to tackle maintenance projects both inside and outside. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Gutters top to bottom: Water in the wrong spots can do a lot of damage. Start by ensuring that gutters and downspouts are doing their job. (Don’t attempt this task yourself if you have a two-story house with a steep roof; hire a professional instead.) If your home is surrounded by deciduous trees you may need to clean out your gutters a few times a year, especially in the fall. Check to make sure your gutters are flush with the roof and attached securely, repairing any areas that sag or where the water collects and overflows. Clean out the gutters and downspouts, checking that outlet strainers are in good shape, and are firmly in place. Finally, check that your downspouts direct water away from your house, not straight along the foundation.
If you haven’t already, you may want to consider installing gutter guards. Gutter guards create a barrier so water can get through to your gutters, but debris cannot, limiting gutter buildup (and the time you spend cleaning out your gutters). There are DIY installation kits available or you can always hire a professional to install a gutter guard system.
If you have a sump pump under your house, now is a good time to test it. Run a hose to be sure draining water travels directly to the pump (dig small trenches if needed), and that the pump removes the water efficiently and expels it well away from the foundation. For more information about how sump pumps work go to howstuffworks.com.
Check for leak: The best opportunity to catch leaks is the first heavy rain after a long dry spell, when roofing materials are contracted. Check the underside of the roof, looking for moisture on joints or insulation. Mark any spots that you find and then hire a roofing specialist to repair these leaks. What you don’t want to do is wait for leaks to show up on your ceiling. By then, insulation and sheet rock have been damaged and you could have a mold problem too.
Don’t forget the basement. Check your foundation for cracks, erosion, plants growing inside, broken windows, and gaps in window and door weathering. Make sure to properly seal any leaks while the weather is nice. This will ensure materials dry properly.
Pest Prevention: Rodents are determined and opportunistic, and they can do tremendous amounts of property damage (and endanger your family’s health). As temperatures cool, take measures to prevent roof rats and other critters from moving in. Branches that touch your house and overhang your roof are convenient on-ramps for invaders, so trip back branches so they’re at least four feet from the house. If you do hear scuttling overhead or discover rodent droppings in your attic, crawl space or basement, take immediate action. The website http://www.thisoldhouse.com has several helpful articles on the topic.
Maintain your heating and cooling systems: Preventative maintenance is especially crucial for your home’s heating and air-conditioning systems. Fall is a smart time to have your systems checked and tuned up if necessary. Don’t wait for extreme temperatures to arrive, when service companies are slammed with emergency calls. Between tune-ups, keeps your system performing optimally by cleaning and/or replacing air filters as needed.
If you have a wood-burning fireplace, a professional inspection and cleaning will help prevent potentially lethal chimney fires and carbon monoxide poisoning. Even if you don’t use your fireplace often, always keep a supply of dry firewood or sawdust-composite logs so you have a backup heat source in an emergency.
Insulate & seal: Insulating your home is a cost-efficient investment, whether you’re trying to keep the interior warm in the winter or cool in the summer. Aside from more major improvements like energy-efficient windows and insulation, there are some quick fixes that do-it-yourselfers can tackle. If an exterior door doesn’t have a snug seal when closed, replace the weather stripping; self-adhesive foam stripping is much simpler to install than traditional vinyl stripping. If there is a gap under the door (which can happen over time as a house settles), you may need to realign the door and replace the vinyl door bottom and/or door sweep. Air also sneaks inside through electrical outlets and light switches on exterior walls. Dye-cut foam outlet seals placed behind the wall plates are a quick and inexpensive solution.
Do you handle rentals?
That is a question that we receive daily at the office. Although we do not do any property management, we do have a contact for you for rentals in the Upper Rogue area:
Local Property Management LLC
Many people post rentals on Craigslist so try there too.
• There will be a $1,000 first prize, a $500 second prize and a $250 third prize and lots other prizes, including prizes for kids.
• Participants may fish from the bank or from boats in any legal fashion between the Hatchery Hole down to the Takelma boat ramp downstream of Shady Cove.
• Weigh-ins will occur throughout the day at the Jackson County Regional Park in Shady Cove, with the final weigh-in at 4 p.m. Prizes will be awarded at 4:30 p.m.
• For weigh-ins, all salmon must be cleaned and gilled. In case of a tie, the fish weighed in first will be declared the winner.
Take a look at Oregon & Southwest Washington's quarterly market trends report published be Matthew Gardner:
Windermere Real Estate is proud to partner with Gardner Economics on this analysis of the Oregon and Southwest Washington real estate market. This report is designed to offer insight into the realities of the housing market. Numbers alone do not always give an accurate picture of local economic conditions; therefore our goal is to provide an explanation of what the statistics mean and how they impact the Oregon and Southwest Washington housing economy. We hope that this information may assist you with making an informed real estate decision. For further information about the real estate market in your area, please contact your Windermere agent.
From a job growth perspective, numbers for the end of the first quarter showed a vast majority of the counties contained within this report having added to their job bases over the past 12 months rather nicely.
In aggregate, the market has added 32,621 jobs over the past four quarters which represents an annual growth rate of 1.9 percent. For comparison purposes, the state as a whole grew by 2.9 percent, but the U.S. expanded by a more modest 1.64 percent.
Even though the growth was less robust than seen in Oregon as a whole, we were impressed that the growth crossed all major industry sectors. This is an important fact as it suggests that the job recovery is not limited to lower paying, service jobs but has become broad-based and, therefore, sustainable.
Compared to the end of the first quarter of 2013, growth was most robust in Washington County, which added 8,800 jobs (+3.3%). This was followed by Clark County (+3%), and Klamath, Cowlitz, and Deschutes Counties, each increasing their employment base by 2.5 percent.
When compared to March of 2013, job losses were extremely modest and seen in just three counties. Lincoln County lost 70 jobs while Skamania and Klickitat Counties lost just 20 jobs, respectively. In my last report I suggested that the region should add 35,000 jobs in 2014. With the current annual growth of 32,600 jobs, we appear to be squarely on track.
The unemployment rate continues to drop with every county—other than
Benton—seeing unemployment rates lower than a year ago. We should note that Benton County did not see its rate rise, rather it remained static at a still-fairly-respectable six percent.
That said, I would taper all this enthusiasm with the fact that there are still several counties where the unemployment rate remains stubbornly above 10 percent. In as much as I would like to attribute this to an expanding labor force, this is not the case. Generally, these counties represent areas where there is little economic diversity, which is slowing their recoveries. Still, I am hopeful that they will start to see their unemployment rates drop as we move through 2014.
Although the counties shown here have, generally, seen improvements in their respective job markets, several have seen a slowdown in the first quarter when compared to the end of 2013. However, this is not unusual. County-level data is not seasonally adjusted, which makes direct comparisons to the previous quarter somewhat erroneous. Even with any perceived slowdown, I am still raising the grade to a “C+” from the “C’ grade given at the end of 2013.
Regional Real Estate
The housing market showed a fairly substantial deviation in the first quarter of the year which is worthy of discussion. On the positive side, price growth was quite impressive and generally broad-based; however, this was offset with a somewhat counterintuitive drop in sales activity.
Any hopes of a spring “bump” in sales were eroded by the fact that total listings dropped by five percent when compared to a year ago. It is clear that lower listing activity has started to have a pronounced effect on the market, but that said, it has yet to translate into any real effect on sale prices.
Listings grew at the fastest rate in Cowlitz County where total listings were up by 6.5 percent year-over-year. The only other counties that saw an increase in listings were Klickitat County (+3.2%) and Clark County (+0.5%).
With the lower level of inventory, home sales took a hit in early spring and were two percent lower in the first quarter of this year when compared to a year ago. In total, the quarter saw a total of 6,392 sales—down from 6,524 in the first quarter of 2013.
Compared to the first quarter of 2013, sales rose in just two counties, with Cowlitz County up by 7.6% and Multnomah County growing by 1.9%. Declines were widespread, with the largest drops seen in Hood River (-17.5%), Skamania (-16.7%), and Klickitat (-13.6%) Counties.
It might seem that the drop in sale activity would have a negative impact on prices; however, this was not the case. When we looked at home prices, the picture was generally bright, with 11 counties showing home values above those seen in the first quarter of 2013, and six registering double-digit growth. In total, the markets surveyed saw average home prices rise from $255,508 to $285,091—an increase of a healthy 11.6 percent. Compared to the fourth quarter of 2013, sale prices have risen by 2.9 percent.
We continue to see some very impressive price gains in smaller counties; however, prices in these markets tend to move erratically due to the limited number of home sales. In Coos County, for example, prices rose by 48 percent year-over-year (from $125,000 to $184,667). Other counties that saw large increases in average sale prices were Skamania (+36%) and Columbia (+35%).
There were just two counties where prices fell. Klickitat County saw the greatest drop in value compared to a year ago (-30.7%), but we again attribute this to the fact that it is a small market. The other market where prices dropped was Hood River (-2.1%).
On a positive note, just one county—Klickitat—is showing home values that are below those seen two years ago. Additionally, over half of the counties surveyed saw home prices in the first quarter exceed those seen in early 2009. This is important, as it was at that time that the market started to see a major decline in values.
Home prices are certainly influenced by the number, quality and mix of homes that are being offered for sale. Many times, markets with limited supply demonstrate stronger price growth than markets where inventory is less tight. However, the drop in sales as well as listing activity, although nothing to panic about, does give us pause for thought and may lead to slower price appreciation unless we start to see more activity.
As such, I am maintaining the “C+” grade that I have given this market for the past year.
On a whole, Oregon’s economy is starting to perform well, with seasonally adjusted employment growing by 46,300 jobs over March of 2013.
In the markets covered by this report, employment growth has not been as robust, but is still— on a percentage basis—higher than that seen in the U.S. as a whole. It is also pleasing to see that employment growth is not limited to service sector industries (which are generally lower paying), which bodes well for the housing market.
As discussed earlier, the housing market itself is somewhat contradictory. Prices are, on the whole, higher than those seen a year ago and in the fourth quarter of 2013. That said, the boost in inventory that I was hoping to see this quarter did not occur.
As predicted, interest rates are moving modestly higher and we are standing by our forecast that the year will end with average 30-year fixed rates marginally below five percent. The upward move in rates continues to get prospective buyers off the fence, but they are still faced will little in the way of choice in homes to buy.
I remain hopeful that the region will start adding to its supply of homes for sale, but it will take a dramatic rise during the balance of the year for me to start believing that the market is heading toward equilibrium.
About Matthew Gardner
Mr. Gardner is a land use economist and principal with Gardner Economics and is considered by many to be one of the foremost real estate analysts in the Pacific Northwest.
In addition to managing his consulting practice, Mr. Gardner chairs the Board of Trustees at the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at the University of Washington; sits on the Urban Land Institutes Technical Assistance Panel; is an Advisory Board Member for the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies at the University of Washington; and is the Editor of the Washington State University’s Central Puget Sound Real Estate Research Report.
He is also the retained economist for the Master Builders Association of King & Snohomish Counties. He has twenty-five years of professional experience in the U.K. and U.S.
He has appeared on CNN, NBC and NPR news services to discuss real estate issues, and is regularly cited in the Wall Street Journal and all local media.
Mark your calendars for the…
33rd Annual Shady Cove/Trail Wildflower Show
Saturday, May 3rd & Sunday, May 4th from 10am – 4pm
Located in the Shady Cove School Gymnasium
♦ 200-Live Wildflower Specimens ♦ Plant Sale ♦ Boutique ♦ Plant & Wildlife Exhibits ♦ Local Art
♦ BBQ and much more! Botanists will be on hand to answer any questions.
Admission is free and donations are accepted. Proceeds will benefit the Jackson County Fire District #4, helping to purchase much needed life saving equipment for the Upper Rogue area!
We are proud Sponsors of this event!
As you may have noticed from our new profile picture on our Facebook Page, Spring has arrived in Shady Cove. The daffodil flags are on the bridge and adorning our city businesses; we have enjoyed some warmer weather and sunshine…now, if only we could convince this rain to cooperate!
Many of you may be planning on what you will plant in your vegetable garden this year. To aid you in that endeavor, check out these tips from Better Homes and Gardens Magazine:
How to Plan a Vegetable Garden
Here's all you need to know about starting and planting a garden with vegetables.
Why Plant a Garden with Vegetables
Starting a vegetable garden at home is an easy way to save money — that $2 tomato plant can easily provide you with 10 pounds of fruit over the course of a season.
Planting a garden with vegetables also gives you the pleasure of savoring a delicious, sun-warmed tomato fresh from the garden. In almost every case, the flavor and texture of varieties you can grow far exceed the best grocery store produce.
Plus, growing vegetables can be fun. It's a great way to spend time with children or have a place to get away and spend time outdoors in the sun.
Learning how to grow and how to plan a vegetable garden is probably easier than you think. If you plan it right, you can enjoy a beautiful garden full of the fruits of your labor — without having to spend hours and hours tending it. Planting a garden that includes vegetables and flowers means you've combined natural companions, and that can turn a potential eyesore into an attractive landscape feature. Read on for more!
Deciding What to Grow
At first, when planting a garden with vegetables, it's best to start small. Many gardeners get a little too excited at the beginning of the season and plant more than they need — and end up wasting food and feeling overwhelmed by their garden.
So first, take a look at how much your family will eat when you think about how to plan a vegetable garden. Keep in mind that vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers, and squash keep providing throughout the season — so you may not need many plants to serve your needs. Other vegetables, such as carrots, radishes, and corn, produce only once. You may need to plant more of these.
Determining How Much Space You Need
Once you know what you want to plant, you can figure out how plan a vegetable garden with the right amount of space.
Keep in mind when planting a garden with vegetables that you don't need a large space to begin. If you choose to grow in containers, you don't even need a yard — a deck or balcony may provide plenty of space.
In fact, a well-tended 10×10-foot vegetable garden will usually produce more than a weed-filled or disease-ridden 25×50-foot bed.
Picking the Perfect Spot
No matter how big your vegetable garden is, there are three basic requirements for success:
1. Full sun. Most vegetables need at least 6-8 hours of direct sun. If they don't get enough light, they won't bear as much and they'll be more susceptible to attack from insects or diseases.
Here's a hint: If you don't have a spot in full sun to plant a garden with vegetables, you can still grow many leafy vegetables such as lettuce and spinach. And if you're in a hot-summer climate, cool-season varieties such as peas may do better in part shade.
2. Plenty of water. Because most vegetables aren't very drought tolerant, you'll need to give them a drink during dry spells. When thinking about how to plan a vegetable garden, remember: The closer your garden is to a source of water, the easier it will be for you.
3. Good soil. As with any kind of garden, success usually starts with the soil. Most vegetables do best in moist, well-drained soil that's rich in organic matter (such as compost or peat moss).
Many gardeners like to have their vegetable gardens close to the house. This makes it easier to harvest fresh produce while you're cooking. It can also be handy to keep a few favorite potted vegetables next to your grill.
How to Design and Plan Your Vegetable Garden
There are two basic approaches to planning the layout of a vegetable garden:
This is probably what comes to mind when you think of a planting a garden with vegetables: You place plants single file in rows, with a walking path between each row.
Row cropping works best for large vegetable gardens, and it makes it easier to use mechanical equipment such as tillers to battle weeds.
The downside of row cropping is that you don't get as many vegetables in a small space, as much of the soil is used for footpaths rather than vegetable plants.
Row cropping isn't as visually interesting, either.
Here's a hint: Allow at least 18 inches between your rows so you have plenty of room to work between them. And as you sketch out your plan, place taller vegetables at the north side of the garden. This includes naturally tall plants — like tomatoes — and plants that can be grown on vertical supports — including snap peas, cucumbers, and pole beans.
This type of planting a garden with vegetables means using in wide bands, generally 1-4 feet across and as long as you like. Intensive cropping reduces the amount of area needed for paths, but the closer spacing of the plants usually means you have to weed by hand.
Because of the handwork required, when thinking how to plan a vegetable garden with rows remember: It is important not to make the bands wider than you can comfortably reach.
Intensive cropping also allows you to design your vegetable garden, making it a good choice, for example, if you want to grow vegetables in your front yard. It's a great solution for mixing vegetables with ornamentals, as well.
A specialized version of intensive cropping is the "square-foot method." This system divides the garden into small beds (typically 4×4 feet), that are further subdivided into 1-foot squares. Each 1-foot square is planted with one, four, nine, or 16 plants, depending on the size of the plant when it matures.
It also makes sense to leave some areas of the garden unplanted at first. This allows you to plant a second crop to harvest later in the season. Lettuce, radishes, green onions, carrots, and bush beans are commonly planted several times during the season.
Testing and Fixing Your Soil
It's best to test the soil before you begin planting a garden with vegetables. Check drainage by soaking the soil with a hose, waiting a day, then digging up a handful of soil. Squeeze the soil hard. If water streams out, you'll probably want to add compost or organic matter to improve the drainage.
Next, open your hand.
If the soil hasn't formed a ball, or if the ball falls apart at the slightest touch, the soil is probably too sandy. (Add organic matter to improve sandy soil.)
If the ball holds together even if you poke it fairly hard, you have too much clay in your soil. (Organic matter improves clay soil, too.)
But if the ball breaks into crumbs when you poke it — like a chocolate cake — rejoice! Your soil is ideal.
If your soil doesn't drain well, your best bet will probably be to install raised beds.
Here's a hint: Build raised beds on existing lawn by lining the bottom of frames with several layers of newspaper, then filling with soil. That way, you don't have to dig!
Digging Your Beds
Loosen your soil before you plant a garden with vegetables. You can either use a tiller or dig by hand.
Once the soil has been loosened, spread out soil amendments (such as compost) and work them into the soil. Avoid stepping on freshly tilled soil as much as possible. Otherwise, you'll be compacting the soil and undoing all your hard work.
When you're done digging, smooth the surface with a rake, then water thoroughly. Allow the bed to rest for several days before you plant.
Once you start picking out varieties for planting a garden, you'll probably notice that the possibilities for a vegetable garden are endless. There are thousands of tomato varieties alone!
When selecting varieties, pay close attention to the description on the tag or in the catalog. Each variety will be a little different: Some produce smaller plants that are ideal for small gardens or containers, others offer great disease resistance, improved yields, better heat- or cold-tolerance, or other features.
Seed catalogs are one of the best sources for vegetables. Once you narrow your choices to types of vegetables, pick two or three varieties that seem promising. That way if one variety doesn't perform well, you'll have other plants to make up for it. Next year, grow the best performer again, and choose another to try.
Many vegetables can be started early indoors or purchased already started from a garden center. The benefit of this approach is that you can have a crop ready to harvest several weeks earlier than if you were to plant seeds in the ground. Starting vegetables indoors is not difficult, but it does require some time and attention. Seed packages list the options you have for planting particular seed.
Care and Feeding
Most vegetables like a steady supply of moisture, but not so much that they are standing in water. About an inch of water per week is usually sufficient, provided by you if Mother Nature fails to come through. Water when the top inch of soil is dry. For in-ground crops, that may mean watering once or twice a week; raised beds drain faster and may require watering every other day.
Weeds compete with your vegetables for water and nutrients, so it's important to keep them to a minimum. Use a hoe or hand fork to lightly stir (cultivate) the top inch of soil regularly to discourage weed seedlings. A mulch of clean straw, compost, or plastic can keep weeds at bay around larger plants like tomatoes.
Fertilizing your crops is critical to maximizing yields. Organic gardeners often find that digging in high quality compost at planting time is all their vegetables need. Most gardeners, however, should consider applying a packaged vegetable fertilizer, following the directions on the box or bag. Don't apply more than recommended as this can actually decrease yield.
By using vining crops like pole beans and snap peas when planting a garden with vegetables, you can make use of vertical space in the garden and boost yield per square foot.
This is what it's all about, so don't be shy about picking your produce! Many vegetables can be harvested at several stages. Leaf lettuce, for example, can be picked as young as you like; snip some leaves and it will continue to grow and produce. Summer squash (zucchini) and cucumber can be harvested when the fruit is just a few inches long, or it can be allowed to grow to full size. The general rule: If it looks good enough to eat, it probably is. Give it a try. With many vegetables, the more you pick, the more the plant will produce.
Stopping Pests and Diseases
Pests and disease are ongoing problems for most vegetable gardeners. Although specific problems may require special solutions, there are some general principles you can follow.
Deer and rabbits. Use fences to deter rabbits. Make sure the bottom of the fence extends about 6 inches under the soil to stop rabbits from digging underneath it. The fence needs to stand at least 8 feet above the ground to prevent deer from jumping over it.
Spring insects. Row covers, which are lightweight sheets of translucent plastic, protect young crops against many common insects. Row covers are also helpful to prevent damage from light frosts.
Fungal diseases. Reduce fungal diseases by watering the soil, not the leaves of plants. If you use a sprinkler, do it early in the day so the leaves will dry by nightfall.
- If a plant falls prey to a disease, remove it promptly and throw it in the trash; don't add sick plants to your compost pile.
- Grow varieties that are listed as disease resistant. Garden catalogs and websites should tell you which varieties offer the most protection.
- Make it a habit to change the location of your plants each year. In other words, if you grew tomatoes in the northwest corner of your garden this year, put them in the northeast corner next year. This reduces the chances that pests will gain a permanent foothold in your garden.
Summer insects. Pick larger insects and caterpillars by hand. Once you get over the "yuck!" factor, this is a safe and effective way to deal with limited infestations.
Use insecticidal soap sprays to control harmful bugs. Most garden centers carry these products. Whatever pest control chemicals you use, read the label carefully and follow the directions to the letter.