Planting a vegetable garden is fairly simple but can be somewhat intimidating for anyone new to gardening. Research your landscape for the best suitable site as well as the requirements for your chosen plants. There are many books, guides, and other references devoted to vegetable gardening that will help you with this task.
How to Plant a Vegetable Garden
Beginners should start small and plan the garden accordingly. It’s often helpful to make a sketch of the chosen layout as well as a list and location of selected vegetables. When choosing vegetables, pick ones that are more easily grown, suitable to your area, and only those you actually will use.
Generally, it’s recommended that your soil be prepared during the fall and left in a semi-rough state until spring, when it should be worked into a more suitable condition for growing plants. The soil should be loose and smooth at this point with an ample supply of organic matter mixed in for the promotion of healthy plants. Be sure the soil in the chosen location of your landscape provides good drainage.
Try to select a site facing south, if possible, with at least eight hours of full sun. If you must have some shade, leafy crops, such as lettuce, or root crops, such as carrots, can be placed in these areas. Crops such as tomatoes, beans, peppers and vine growers, however, must remain in full sun. Also try to stay away from steep slopes and choose an area well protected from strong winds. Fences and others structures can be implemented in areas susceptible to these conditions if needed.
Since vegetable gardens require quite a bit of water, you should also choose a site conveniently close to a water source, such as an outside spigot. The location you choose shouldn’t be situated too close to large trees or wooded areas. Trees may compete with the garden for moisture or nutrients and may also cast too much shade; wooded areas may encourage the intrusion of wildlife pests such as rabbits, deer, raccoons or woodchucks, which can damage your crops.
Since variables in soil and temperature affect crops differently, consider the individual needs of your vegetables. For instance, different varieties of one vegetable, such as carrots, may have different requirements. The long-rooted type requires deep, sandy soil, whereas the stubbier varieties do well planted in shallow topsoil.
Garden Layout and Planting
Vegetable gardens don’t always have to be laid out in large plots in the backyard; you can grow them nearly anywhere as long as all their growing conditions are met. Many vegetables can be grown in beds, borders or containers provided there is adequate soil, sunlight and water. Keep in mind that there are different techniques used to make the most of limited space for gardeners who do not have large sites.
Companion planting is a technique in which plants that complement one another are incorporated to help reduce pests or disease. This method can be used strictly with vegetables, such as planting peppers with onions, or with the addition of flowers and herbs, such as tomatoes with marigolds.
Vertical planting works well for smaller gardens. They provide support, take up less space and keep plants off the ground. The use of supports in the way of a trellis, fence or even a container makes vertical gardening an attractive feature as well.
Succession planting is achieved by planting one crop followed by another. For example, a cool, short-season crop followed by a warm, long-season crop like lettuce followed by tomatoes.
Caring for Vegetable Gardens
Careful planning will lessen the work of gardening and make it possible to achieve the most out of your vegetable garden. Once all of your crops have been planted, all it requires is a little maintenance. Watering is probably the most important and usually a good soaking about once a week is sufficient except during hot spells, which may require additional watering.
An occasional dose of fertilizer will help boost production as well. Normally, the preferred method is by way of organic fertilizers such as compost or manure.
To limit weed growth and extra work, mulch your vegetables generously. Mulching also will help retain moisture.
Starting a vegetable garden is easy and with the proper care, you can sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor come harvest season.
Tips on Planting a Vegetable Garden
Vegetable gardening is a healthy hobby.
There is nothing better or more nutritious than home grown vegetables. Ensuring a bountiful harvest takes some planning and preparation prior to planting. Tips on planting a vegetable garden are useful not only for novice gardeners but also for those who have been gardening for some time.
10 Steps to Starting a Vegetable Garden
To get started, here are 10 steps recommended by the National Gardening Association.
1. Choose the right location
Choose a location for the garden that has plenty of sun, ample space and close proximity to your hose or water source. Find a level area to help prevent erosion.
2. Select your veggies
Decide what produce to include based on your climate, space, tastes and level of expertise. Newcomers may want to consider some of the easier crops to grow, like carrots, beans, cucumbers, peppers and lettuce.
3. Prepare the soil
Mix compost and natural fertilizers into your garden to condition the soil for your plants. Garden-supply stores can test the acidity of your soil and recommend supplements, or you can simply purchase specially made soil in bulk.
4. Check planting dates
Growing conditions and ripening cycles are different depending on the plant and the season, so you should not sow all the seeds at the same time. Planting dates can be found on seed packets. Review the ideal conditions for each veggie you want to plant before creating a gardening schedule.
5. Plant the seeds
Place your seeds or plants into the soil, following the depth and spacing directions carefully.
6. Add water
Gently spray the garden with water to keep the soil evenly moist throughout the growing season. Purchase a spray nozzle for your hose so you can create a gentle rain-like mist for your garden.
7. Keep the weeds out
Mulching is the most effective way to prevent weeds. Add a 2- to 4-inch-thick layer of organic mulch to your garden to keep the weeds from overtaking your crops. If weeds do appear in the garden, grab them low on their stems and yank sharply, making sure to extract the entire root.
8. Give your plants room to grow
Check the spacing guide on the seed packets and be sure to remove crowded seedlings right away.
9. Fertilize as needed
Lightly till the soil by hand and add fertilizer to keep it rich. You can purchase prepared garden fertilizer or make your own from items like Epsom salt, eggshells, fish tank water and kitchen compost.
10. Reap what you sow
Harvest vegetables when they’re young and tender—but only pick them when you plan to use them. Pull root crops as soon as they reach edible size. Collect leaf crops by cutting them to within 2 inches of the ground. Finally, enjoy your harvest!
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Vegetable Garden Tips & Tricks for High Yield Gardens
Nothing compares to home-grown vegetables. When you grow your own food, the flavor and texture far surpass anything you can buy at the store.
To harvest the best flavor from vegetables, try these simple home vegetable garden tips and tricks during the growing season this year:
- Plant High-Yield Vegetables
Make the most of your time and space by growing vegetables that produce a high yield. At the top of the list are tomatoes, onions and lettuce. They require the least amount of space and time, but give the most valuable yields in return. Melons, winter squash and pumpkins are fun to grow, but take much more space and produce very little.
Use Quality Soil
Plants draw their nutrients from the soil, so it only makes sense that the better the soil, the better your vegetables will taste come harvest time. One of the best ways to improve soil is by adding organic matter. You can mulch with all kinds of materials – straw, for example, is excellent for vegetable gardens. Just make sure to apply it on a still day and water it well to weigh it down. Gilmour’s Elevated Sprinkler is perfect for this because it rains down on the straw without disturbing it. Keep the straw moist until it mends into a cohesive mass in your garden.
Plant the Right Crops for Your Region
Sure, we know not to plant tomatoes, peppers and corn before the soil warms up – but many novice gardeners overlook the importance of planting properly for their specific garden zone. Check the days to maturity on each seed packet or plant label to see if you have enough time in the growing season for the plant to reach full maturity.
Proper Watering for Vegetable Gardens
Vegetables benefit from a consistent watering schedule. Too little water and you may not get vegetables at all. Too much, and you can drown the roots and spoil the fruit. To ensure consistent watering, use a watering nozzle at ground level to deliver even moisture to the plants at their roots. To make the job effortless, hook your hose up to a programmable timer. Set it and focus on some of the more labor intensive vegetable gardening tips.
Very few vegetables grow in an area with less than half a day of sun. If your garden is getting more shade than sun, you may have to relocate it to another area of the yard. Before planting, keep an eye on various areas of your yard throughout the day to see which area gets the most sun. When you take the time to start a garden the right way, your veggies will reward you.
Improve the Taste of Your Vegetables
Store-bought vegetables often lack flavor simply because they’re grown in the wrong season. Vegetables generally fall within two categories: those that love cool weather and those that need warm weather. Planting spinach and kale in the summer may sound like a good idea, but the results often taste bitter, and tomatoes won’t turn red in time if you plant them too close to fall. Plant at the proper times to reap the best garden harvest.
Is Companion Planting a Good Fit for You?
Did you know that the right combination of certain plants can make your vegetables more productive? Companion planting can help deter pests, promote growth and even improve flavor. Try it out for yourself! This year, plant rosemary with your beans or basil under your tomatoes.
Time to Bring Some Veggies Inside?
If you grow a wide variety of crops, your vegetables (even different varieties of the same vegetable) will ripen at different times over the course of a season. Be sure to harvest each vegetable at peak ripeness – it’s easy to overlook a plant one day only to find the handful of tomatoes you’d eagerly been awaiting had suddenly turned mealy. Check plants daily and never miss out on perfect timing.
Use a Vertical Trellis or Fence to Save Space
The professionals’ vegetable garden planting tips encourage you to look up! Grow more in less space by going up instead of out. Garden trellises support plants, such as tomatoes, cucumber, beans and small melons. The right trellis can even double your garden yield by increasing sunlight, easing harvest and allowing for easier pest management.
Defend Against Garden Pests
Pests weaken plants and take nutrients away from vegetable production. But before grabbing for the pesticides at the first sign of a chewed leaf in your garden, think about some alternative solutions. A lot of the time, you can combat pest problems – and increase your yield – by using natural remedies. Floating row covers, handpicking and slug traps are all effective ways to naturally reduce the damage to your vegetable garden, without the harmful chemicals found in so many pesticides.
Winterize Your Garden
While it’s tempting to take the season off, believe it or not, winter offers a perfect time to improve your vegetable garden area. Take advantage of the occasional warmer-winter day to reduce weeds, improve organic matter and prep for spring. A little time spent now will get you growing as soon as possible and extend your harvest.
Home vegetable gardening tricks are often passed down from one generation to another. The importance of harvesting all you can in return for a little hard work will never go out of style. Follow these vegetable growing tips and enjoy a bountiful harvest all season long!