Fresh vegetables from a home garden are healthier than store-bought produce. This is because these vegetables can be picked at peak ripeness. Gardeners can also elect not to spray their garden with harmful pesticides. Virginians who would like to grow a vegetable garden will find there are many choices of crops that can easily be grown in a garden spot or in containers.
There are many types of vegetables that grow well in Virginia. Some of these include asparagus, beets, broccoli, corn, carrots, okra, tomato, eggplant, cauliflower, peas, radishes and potatoes. Greens such as lettuce, kale and spinach thrive here. Bush beans, pole beans and lima beans are also crops that will grow well in Virginia.
Virginia is broken up into three distinct planting regions. These regions include the Tidewater region, Piedmont area and Mountain area. The Tidewater region covers the area of Virginia that is along the Atlantic coast as well as Accomack Island. The Piedmont area covers most of central Virginia. The Mountain Area is western Virginia and is largely mountainous.
The average time of the last frost varies greatly by region. In the Mountain Area, the last frost is around mid-May, so planting should be done in late May. In the Piedmont area, the last frost is in late April. Planting here should be done in early to mid-May. In the Tidewater Area, the last frost usually occurs in early to mid-April. Planting here can be done in late April.
Container gardening is popular in Virginia. Some of the more popular crops to grow in containers include carrots, radishes, peppers, tomatoes and lettuce. These vegetables may be planted at the same time as regular crops. Containers should be placed on a sunny patio where they receive at least five hours of sunlight each day.
A few crops are suited for growing in the fall in Virginia. These include rutabaga, turnips and mustard greens. Crops can be planted in August or September in much of the state. They can continue to be harvested even after a light frost has struck. This may be from early October through mid-November.
Virginia crops will do well in soil that has a pH level of around 6.5. A soil test may be done at your local county extension office. If the pH level is too low, lime may be added to raise it. Soil with a high pH may need to have sulfur added to lower it.
Pests can be deterred by maintaining healthy soil. This means adding fertilizer with potassium and phosphorus to the soil. Gardeners may also want to add manure to their garden in the fall, then till with a garden tiller to expose insects to the elements. Slugs and aphids can be controlled without the use of chemical sprays by using traps especially designed for these type of insects.