Q: I want to have a vegetable garden and the only part of my yard that is sunny is in the front yard. Are there any rules that prohibit growing vegetables in the front yard in Winston-Salem?

Answer: According to Chris Murphy, deputy director of inspections for the

city of Winston-Salem, there are no zoning rules that restrict vegetable gardens from being planted in the front yard of residential properties in the city. But if you live in a neighborhood that has a homeowner’s association, there could be some rules that restrict such gardens. Check with your homeowner’s association for clarification. Vegetable gardens grow best with 6 to 10 hours of full sunlight, so siting your garden where you have sun is a wise use of the space in your yard. Having a front-yard garden makes you part of a movement that is trending across the country -- growing edible plants in the landscape in place of purely ornamental plants. Such groups as Food Not Lawns promote food production rather than lawn mowing. Consider how to lay out your garden so that it will be attractive. Include some flowers to attract beneficial insects and to add beauty. Maintain your garden regularly so that it doesn’t become weedy and overgrown. Lasagna mulching is a great technique to reduce weed pressure and to conserve soil moisture. Harvest the produce regularly so that wildlife isn’t attracted to your garden. At the end of the growing season, don’t leave the soil bare. Grow a cover crop to protect it and to keep your front yard looking maintained.

For help with planning your vegetable garden check out this Extension resource: https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/home-vegetable-gardening-a-quick-reference-guide.

Another idea is to grow edible plants in containers. For more information about how to do this check out this website:

https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/how-to-create-a-container-garden-for-edibles-in-the-north-carolina-piedmont.

Q: How do I know when to harvest eggplant? This is the first year I have grown it in my garden.

Answer: Eggplant is a versatile vegetable to grow in the garden and then use in the kitchen. You can prepare a variety of different recipes including eggplant parmesan, moussaka, and eggplant salad with your garden harvest. The plants thrive in the heat of summer and will bear multiple fruits under normal garden conditions. For Italian eggplant, harvest the fruit when the fruits are between 2 inches and 4 to 6 inches across, and still firm and shiny. For Japanese and Chinese eggplant, harvest the fruit anytime the fruits are 1 inch in diameter. The touch test involves using your thumb to lightly press the eggplant to see if a dent remains. If a dent is left, the fruit is ready to harvest. If the skin color is dull, the eggplant is over ripe.

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Mary Jac Brennan is the agent for fruit and vegetable horticulture for small farms and local food for the Forsyth Cooperative Extension. Contact Mary Jac about commercial production, local foods, and sustainable agriculture questions. For information on home and gardening issues, contact the Forsyth Cooperative Extension office at maryjac_brennan@ncsu.edu or call 336-703-2850.

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