Talent is located four miles north of Ashland on Interstate Highway 5, in the scenic Rogue River valley of southern Oregon. At an elevation of 1,635 feet above sea level, Talent enjoys warm, sunny summers that are well-suited to vegetable gardening. Talent is in plant hardiness zone 8 and enjoys a growing season of 170 days on average. With roughly 200 days of sunshine annually, the area receives just 20 inches of rain through the spring, summer and fall.
Select a level, well-drained area of your yard that receives at least six hours of sunshine a day. First-time vegetable gardeners should start with a small plot that will be easier to manage until more experience is gained. Mark out the plot by placing wooden stakes at the corners and connect them around the perimeter with string. Remove the existing turf by cutting small sections with the spade and lifting them out using the garden fork. Cut down deep enough with the spade to get below the grass roots.
Turn the topsoil lightly to a depth of about 6 inches. Apply 10 pounds of lime for each 100 square feet of garden and cover with 4 to 6 inches of compost or manure. The lime should raise the soil pH to between 6.0 and 7.5, which is ideal for growing vegetables. Turn the plot again to mix the soil with the lime and organic material. Remove the perimeter stakes and string. Allow the ground to rest for several days so the organics and lime can work into the soil.
Draw a sketch showing the outline of the garden and plan the arrangement of your vegetable crops. For small vegetables such as onions, carrots, beets and lettuce, space your rows about 18 inches apart. You will need much more room for squash, melons and corn, so it may be best to leave these out of a small garden. Okra and sweet potatoes are not recommended for growing in the Talent area. The Oregon State University Extension has published a very useful guide entitled "Vegetable Gardening in Oregon." It is loaded with helpful information on what to plant and when.
Use your drawing and identify the rows by placing stakes at the ends with string tied between them. Prepare for planting by mounding the soil to a height of about 6 inches along the rows. Following the directions on the seed packets carefully, plant your seeds at the correct spacing and depth.
Water the garden immediately after planting. Vegetables require at least an inch of water per week. In spring, the Talent area receives about an inch and a half of rainfall per month, while in the summer it can be less than half an inch. Regular watering is therefore essential. Using a soaker hose is very effective because it directs the water to the soil rather than the plant foliage. Leaves that are continually wet can encourage both insects and disease.
Weed the garden on a daily basis, especially during the spring when the young plants are getting established. Once your vegetables start to grow, check them carefully for signs of insect damage or disease. Leaves with holes or that are partially eaten are usually an indication of insect problems.