Starting your first vegetable garden

13 Mar, 2022 - 00:03 0 Views
Starting your first vegetable garden

The Sunday Mail

VEGETABLE gardening home can be a way to save money while you get up close and personal with nature.

Dig into these tips and tricks to get your vegetable garden off to a strong start.

Start with a small space

If you are a beginner gardener, start small. It is better to be thrilled by what you produce in a small garden than be frustrated by the time commitment a big one requires.

It is also best to learn a few gardening basics before investing tons of time and money in this new hobby. You will also find out if you like spending time outside planting, watering and weeding.

Grow what you love to eat

What do you like to eat? Your answer will tell you what you should plant in your vegetable garden. There are also a few other things to keep in mind when deciding what you want to grow.

Be picky about varieties

Pay close attention to the description on the seed packet, tag, or label.

Each variety of vegetable comes with certain characteristics. Some produce smaller plants ideal for containers or small gardens.

Other varieties offer better disease resistance, improved yields, or better heat- or cold-tolerance. Start by choosing veggies you like to eat, then look into their sizes and care needs.

Productivity

Think about how much you and your family will eat and how likely you are to freeze, can, or give away excess produce.

Then be realistic about how many seeds or plants you need to put into the ground. Vegetables like tomatoes, peppers and squash keep providing throughout the season, so you may not need many plants to serve your needs.

Successive crops

Planting both cool- and warm-weather vegetables will give you a harvest of vegetables and herbs continuously through all seasons.

Test garden tip: By planting vining crops like green beans and peas, you make use of vertical space in the garden and boost yield per square foot.

Choose the spot for your garden

No matter where you put your garden or what you decide to plant, there are two basic requirements that your location needs to meet for the best success: water and light.

Sunlight

Like all plants, vegetables need the sun to kick-start photosynthesis. The fastest-growing vegetables need full sun without blockage from trees, shrubs, or fences. You will not have much success if you plant sun-loving vegetables in shady spaces.

Convenient water access

The closer you can site your plot to a water source, the better. You will need to be able to water frequently during the first few weeks after seeds germinate or seedlings are transplanted to help these fragile plants produce strong roots and stems. Once your plants are established, it is better to give your garden a long drink every few days rather than a little sprinkle every day.

Plan your vegetable garden layout

Choose either row cropping or intensive cropping (there are benefits to each!) when you plan your vegetable garden’s layout.

Row cropping

Place plants single file in rows at least 18 inches apart so you can walk easily between them. This approach makes the most sense for large vegetable gardens because rows make it easier to use mechanical equipment, such as tillers, to battle weeds. The downside is that space set aside for footpaths cuts down on the number of vegetables you can plant.

Intensive cropping

Boost your garden’s productivity with intensive cropping, which means that you space two or three plants close together in a bed about four feet wide (aka a wide row). Seeds are sown or transplants are placed so that their leaves will barely touch at maturity. This approach, which uses almost every square inch of the prepared soil, works well for most types of vegetables, excluding the ones that vine (such as cucumbers). The downside of this method is that you have to weed by hand because the plants grow so close together.

Start plants in rich soil

For the best harvest, your vegetable garden needs the best soil you can give it. Rich, healthy soil is something you know when you feel it: It is easy to dig and drains well. You want soil that is dark, crumbly and literally full of life. Fortunately, no matter what the texture may be, all soil can be improved over time by incorporating organic matter into it.

*Be ready for pests and diseases. Stop weeds in their tracks and deter destructive insects. –bhg.com

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