- 1 Begin With A Small Garden
- 2 Layout Planning for Vegetable Gardens
- 2.1 Row crops
- 2.2 Intensive Farming
- 2.3 How to Choose Vegetable Varieties
- 2.4 Transplants Vs. Seeds
- 2.5 Vegetable Garden Care
- 2.6 Vegetable Harvesting
Getting up close and personal with nature while saving money by growing your vegetables can be as fulfilling as saving money. A single tomato plant can be very affordable (do not expect to spend more than $3 to $5) and can yield anywhere from ten pounds to twenty (which could easily cost more than $20). It can be even more economical to grow pounds of tomatoes and other vegetables or herbs from seeds. In addition to tasting better than store-bought produce, garden-grown produce has a greater yield. Also, tended vegetable gardens count as exercise! Here are some tips and tricks for growing the best vegetable garden.
Begin With A Small Garden
Starting small is better than committing too much effort to a large garden if you are a beginner. Moreover, you should also know the basics of vegetable gardening practices before making a serious investment in this new hobby. By planting, watering, and weeding, you’ll be able to tell how much work gardening takes. You and your family will learn how much produce can be made into a variety of dishes throughout the summer.
A starter’s vegetable garden should be approximately 10×10 feet in size, roughly the same size as a bedroom. While it’s essential to keep it simple, don’t go overboard. It will only take a few seeds of each vegetable to provide you with a lot of fresh vegetables for your summer meals, and it will be simple to keep up with the chores. You can grow vegetables in containers if 10×10 feet is too much for you or plant them in a smaller garden space such as a sunny balcony or a deck.
In general, a well-tended 10-x-10-foot garden generates more vegetables than a 25-by-50-foot garden filled with weeds and disease.
Grow What You Like
Answering this question will help you determine what leafy greens to plant in a vegetable garden. Before you pick up the shovel, however, consider these factors:
You ought to decide how much you and your family will eat and if you will be freezing, canning, or donating excess produce. Don’t be overly optimistic about the number of seeds or plants that you should plant in the ground. Beginners tend to plant too much with ambitious planting schemes. It is better to grow vegetables you can harvest repeatedly, such as cherry tomatoes, peppers, and squash, whereas other vegetables, such as carrots, radishes, and corn, you can harvest only once.
By planting both warm- and cold-weather vegetables you will have vegetables and herbs continuously throughout the spring, summer, and fall. Early in the spring, plant lettuce, lettuce, and greens such as arugula, carrots, peas, and broccoli. Plant hot-weather crops like tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and herbs after harvesting your cool-weather crops. In autumn, you can harvest potatoes, cabbage, and kale.
By planting a variety of vine crops such as pole beans and peas in the garden, you can increase your yields per square foot and make the most use of vertical space.
How to Choose the Perfect Spot for Your Garden
Choose your growing site carefully. If you want the garden to produce food, you should plan on checking on it daily or so to look for droopy plants that need watering, destructive pests, or produce that is ready to pick. Your vegetable garden should be placed closer to your house so that picking fresh produce or herbs while you cook can be accomplished more easily.
Make certain to factor in the movement of the sun during the day. Make your garden face north and south to get maximum sun exposure; when plants face east and west they tend to shade each other too much. Sun, water, and the type of soil are the three basic requirements for success no matter where you put your garden or what plants you choose.
How Much Sun is Enough?
To generate carbohydrates and other compounds, plants need hours of sunlight to activate photosynthesis. Light energy transforms to glucose, and plants use this to generate cellulose and starch. Sunlight is the ultimate source for those vegetables that grow rapidly, and they require at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight per day. The ground should be clear of trees, shrubs, or fences. That’s why you will have much less success if you plant sun-loving vegetables in shady areas.
Vegetables tolerant of partial shade, such as lettuce, kale, chard, spinach, chives, cilantro, parsley, and thyme, can be planted in your yard. A site that gets at least four hours of direct sunlight goes well with root vegetables like carrots, radishes, and beets. On your sunny patio, you can switch to container gardening.
You can then plant vegetables and herbs that thrive under the sun (tomatoes, eggplants, cucumbers, peppers, corn, beans, squash, basil, dill, and rosemary), in a sunny spot.
Provide Lots of Water
Growing success requires plenty of water during the first few weeks, especially in warm, dry areas. If seeds germinate or seedlings are transplanted during the first few weeks, frequent watering will keep them strong. The best way to maintain your garden once it’s established is to give it a good drink every few days rather than a little sprinkle every day. This will allow the water to move deeper into the soil, where it will encourage deeper root growth. As a result, they’ll be better protected and better able to access nutrients.
When deciding when to water your lawn, consider your weather conditions and the soil’s makeup. Soil that dries out more slowly than sandy soil takes up more moisture in sunnier, windier conditions, whereas cool, cloudy weather keeps it wetter for longer. Not sure? Water your garden even on days when it’s raining because sometimes rainwater will run off rather than soaking into the soil, which does nothing for your plants. If the soil feels dry 3 to 4 inches beneath the surface of your garden or container, it’s time to water. Your vegetable garden will be much easier to care for if it’s positioned near a water source.
Start Your Plants in Good Soil
A healthy vegetable garden needs the best soil you can give it to yield the best harvest. You can feel rich, healthy soil by its appearance: It’s easy to dig and drains well.
A state-certified soil-testing laboratory can help you identify your soil type if you don’t know for sure. You can also assess the texture of your soil yourself. Get a trowel’s worth of dirt into your hands. Do you feel it is gritty? It’s too much sand. Is it powdery? Too much silt. Is it sticky when wet? It’s too much clay. These three types, and the proportions in which they are combined, determine the texture of your garden soil, which affects drainage and nutrient availability.
If you have sandy soil, for example, you can add organic matter to enhance its texture and make it crumbly and dark. Fortunately, no matter the soil’s texture, all soil can be improved by incorporating it with organic matter. Water and nutrients run through the gaps relatively quickly since they’re made up of large soil particles. By adding organic matter, such as compost to sandy soil, moisture and nutrients are retained because of the filling of pores in the soil.
Clays, on the other hand, contain microscopic, densely packed particles that retain water but do not allow air space for plant roots. Compost works by separating small clay particles, allowing water to drain more freely and oxygen to reach the plant roots.
Planting requires amending the rich soil with compost and working it in with a tiller or spade. You should avoid walking on freshly tilled soil or your hard work will be undone. Then rake the surface smooth and water thoroughly. Allow the bed to rest several days before you plant so the soil amendments can do their work.
Layout Planning for Vegetable Gardens
When coming up with garden plans for your vegetable garden, choose either row crops or intensive crops.
Put shorter plants 18 inches apart in rows with single rows to make them as easy to walk between as possible. Large vegetable gardens work best with rows because their rows make it easier to use machinery, like a tiller, to combat weeds. However, because of the planting space set aside for footpaths, fewer vegetables may be planted.
Tall plants tend to do well on the north side of the herb garden. The tall plants or vining plants being referred to include crop plants like beans and plants that can grow on vertical supports, including peas, tomatoes, and cucumbers. Make your A-frame trellis for growing vegetables to save money.
Plant two to three plants close together in a bed 4 feet wide to increase your garden’s productivity. Vegetables are typically planted with their leaves almost touching each other at maturity according to a square foot approach. This approach applies well to most types of vegetables except for vine-producing ones including cucumbers. Due to the closeness of the plants, weeding by hand is both a disadvantage and a matter of convenience.
The square-foot method is a specialized version of intensive cropping, where your 4-foot-square garden bed is divided into 1-foot squares by using a physical grid. To fill a bed with 6-inch-high sides, you’ll need 8 cubic feet of top-quality garden soil. There are four intensive plantings formulas: one extra-large plant for every 1×1-foot square; four large plants for every square; nine medium plants for each square; and 16 small vegetable plants for each square. Mix and match as you please.
Regardless of how much you hate to weed, make sure you do it. Weeds compete with vegetables for sunlight, nutrients, and water. Keep them under control, especially early in the season.
Testing Your Soil
Before you plant vegetables, test the soil. Can’t do soil analysis? You can do this manually by following these three simple steps:
Dig, Soak, and Soil
After soaking the soil with a hose, wait a day, then dig a handful up to test.
Soil Must Be Squeezed Hard
Adding compost or other organic matter will probably improve drainage if water is streaming out. Testing the soil temperature will also be helpful for drainage.
Check Your Hand
Add organic matter to sandy soil to improve it, if it doesn’t form a ball when poked or is crumbling to the touch. If it doesn’t break into crumbs at the slightest touch, its moisture level is high enough. Your best bet may be to install raised beds rather than sunken beds if your soil does not drain well.
Building raised garden beds is a great way to solve this problem. Line the frames with newspaper, then fill them with fertile soil and place them on your existing lawn. By doing so, you can avoid digging.
How to Choose Vegetable Varieties
You should pay close attention to the description on each seed packet, tag, or label when selecting which edible plants to grow. All vegetable types have their unique benefits. There are also varieties with smaller plants that are great for containers or containers. Other varieties have better disease resistance, improved yields, or better heat or cold tolerance. Choose vegetables that you’ll get a kick out of, then research their sizes and care needs. If you’re still unsure, speak with greenhouse staff or garden centers.
Perhaps you should try two or three varieties of the same vegetable so that if one variety does not work well you have other options to compensate for it. Make sure to plant vegetables that perform best the following year, and try different varieties.
Transplants Vs. Seeds
Possibly starting seeds of your favorite vegetables or purchasing young plants from a garden center wouldn’t ruin your plants either. Sturgeon, lettuce, or beets can be started in storage 6 weeks before the last frost. Check the seed package for specific instructions if you are planning to plant carrots, beans, and peas. Other plants like tomatoes, corn, and sunflowers can be sown directly into the garden.
You might also choose to buy seedlings from a nursery or garden center and transplant them into your garden. This kind of planting method is best for plants with slow growth, like broccoli, celery, and kale. Unlike starting plants from seeds, transplants take less time to mature and produce earlier than plants started from seed. Transplants are also more resistant to pests since they are much stronger when planted in a typical garden.
Vegetable Garden Care
It would be a shame to let the garden wither away over the summer after all that effort is put into planning, preparation, and planting. Follow these steps to keep your garden flourishing.
The Best Way to Stop Weeds
Keep weeds at bay by cultivating the top inch of soil regularly with a hoe. Weeds compete for light, water, and nutrients with your vegetables, so it’s important to minimize their presence. With a mulch layer of clean straw, compost, or plastic around tomatoes, weeds can be controlled.
Feed Your Crops
Getting your vegetables fertilized will help to maximize yields. Organic gardeners may find that composting at planting time is all their vegetables need. Those who prefer packaged kits might consider applying a warm-season vegetable fertilizer on their plants following the instructions on the box or bag.
Defend Against Pests and Diseases
Some problems are requiring a special solution, although this general information will help you prevent pests from eating your veggies.
Animals Must Be Kept Out
Vegetable gardens of all types can be disrupted by large pests, such as deer and rabbits. It takes an 8-foot-high fence to keep deer out. Fences must extend 6 inches into the ground for rabbits to not dig in.
Stop Insect Pests
The safest and most effective way to deal with limited infestations is to pick off large insects and caterpillars by hand. The best way to control larger quantities of insects is by using insecticidal soap sprays you can find in most garden centers. No matter what pesticide you use, follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.
Fight Against Fungi
During the growing season, spray the soil rather than the leaves of the plants to reduce the risk of fungal diseases. If you use a sprinkler, spray it early in the day so that the leaves will dry by nightfall. Don’t add sick plants to your compost pile if they fall prey to a disease; remove them immediately and throw them in the trash.
Additionally, you can prevent diseases by growing disease-resistant vegetable varieties and changing the location of your plants each year. That will help prevent diseases from acquiring a permanent foothold in your garden.
Harvesting your vegetables is a necessary part of gardening. Leaf lettuce, for example, that’s been snipped back for the tender, young leaves will continue to produce and grow during the growing season. Cucumber and summer squash are harvested when the fruit is one to two inches long.
It’s probably delicious, so if it looks good enough to eat, then so will it! With many vegetables, the more you pick, the larger the plant becomes.