Tomatoes, potatoes, beans, lettuces, corn, carrots, radishes, and asparagus are just some of the vegetables you can grow successfully in a Connecticut garden. As with gardening elsewhere, the main things to which you must pay attention are planting in a seasonally appropriate way, and pests. Since soil in Connecticut may be especially heavy and compacted, Dawn Pettinelli of the Department of Plant Science at the University of Connecticut Cooperative Extension advises you may need to double-dig your garden beds when establishing them.
Test the soil in your intended garden location. Test kits can be purchased from garden centers. The University of Connecticut Cooperative Extension service also offers several types of soil testing for small fees. Laboratory testing is more extensive and accurate than home test kits, and the costs are comparable.
Dig up the site of your future garden bed in order to prepare the soil. If your soil is excessively compacted, double-digging is an effective way to improve the soil. To double-dig, dig a 1-foot-wide trench, starting at one corner of your garden bed. The trench's depth should match the size of your shovel blade. As you dig, place the soil in a wheelbarrow. When the wheelbarrow is full, sink a garden fork into the bottom of the trench, so that the forks are completely submerged. Dig this soil up as well and turn it. Then replace the soil in the wheelbarrow into the trench after you have broken it up. Repeat the double-digging process all the way to the other end of your garden and throughout the garden bed.
Amend the soil in your garden bed according to the soil test results. If necessary, raise pH levels using agricultural lime, or lower pH levels using sulfur. Consult your county extension office for exact amounts needed for your application. If poor drainage is a problem, amending with greensand, peat moss, or coir can be effective. Apply about 3 inches of compost to the top of your garden bed. Mix it into the top 6 inches of soil.
Start warm-weather vegetables indoors in a sunny window. Tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers do best this way. Use a flat and starter mix, and sow seeds in the cells according to the manufacturer's instructions. Water daily with a mister so you do not disturb the seeds. Transplant outdoors when weather temperatures are consistently above 55 degrees Fahrenheit, and there is no danger of frost.
Sow cool-weather vegetables directly in the prepared garden soil. Lettuces, spinach, broccoli and peas are some vegetables that do well this way. Save frost-resistant vegetables, such as kale and members of the cabbage family, for a late summer sowing. They will be ready for harvest in the fall, when your summer vegetables are a pleasant memory.
Fertilize according to package instructions. Water plants regularly. Use trellises to support climbing, vining plants. Tomatoes, beans, and peas will thrive when guided onto trellises. Cut up a pair of used pantyhose to make strong ties for the plants that will not damage delicate vines.
Apply mulch around your garden vegetables once the plants have been established. Rid the bed of any weeds before applying mulch. Use a 2- to 3-inch layer of mulch to help retain moisture, maintain consistent soil temperature, and inhibit weed growth.