The picturesque community of Granite Bay is an eastern suburb of Sacramento and is situated along the sandy western shore of Folsom Lake. The mild climate of the Sacramento Valley is ideal for growing vegetables, provided they receive adequate water. The long summers are very dry and virtually cloudless, with temperatures averaging more than 90 degrees in July and August. Enjoying a growing season of more than 240 days per year, Granite Bay is in plant hardiness zone 9.
Choose a location for your vegetable garden. The site should be away from shade trees to ensure maximum sun exposure. First time growers should start with a small plot of about 200 square feet. The plot can be expanded as you gain experience. Place wooden stakes to mark the corners of the garden and tie string around the outside. Remove any lawn grass by cutting lines with the spade to make a checkerboard pattern of small squares. Lift out the pieces using the garden fork and save them for your compost pile.
Turn the top six inches of the soil by spade or hoe and spread four to six inches of compost or manure over the entire plot. Soil in the Granite Bay area is often alkaline, having a higher pH than the optimum range for vegetables of 6.0 to 7.5. Testing your soil before planting is highly recommended and can be done at home with a store bought kit. Elements that reduce soil pH include ammonium sulfate and sulfur-coated urea, which are available at most garden centers. Leave the plot to rest for three days or so after preparing the soil with compost or other additives.
Remove the perimeter stakes and string. Make a sketch of the plot to use in planning your garden. Most small vegetables such as lettuce, carrots, beets and celery are grown in rows spaced 18 to 24 inches apart. Larger varieties, including melons and squash, need a lot more space and may not suitable for a small garden. The University of California Extension service publishes useful guides for vegetable gardening. The Placer County extension office is located in Auburn, a few miles north of Granite Bay.
Turn the soil to thoroughly mix in the organic material. Lay out the garden according to your sketch by placing stakes at the ends of the rows and connecting with string. Pull the soil into a six inch high mound along the length of each row. Follow the directions on each seed packet and plant your seeds at the recommended spacing and depth.
Irrigate the garden with at least one inch of water per week, which is the minimum vegetables require. Making an investment in soaker hoses will save time and be more effective at directing the water to the soil. Always water your garden at the coolest times of the day. Remove any weeds as they appear to prevent them from competing with the young vegetables. As the vegetables grow, check the leaves and stems often for signs of insect damage or disease. Contact the local county extension office if you have any concerns about the condition of your plants.