the Basics of vegetable gardening
Vegetable gardening can be an extremely rewarding hobby. Not only is it a good way to get fresh air and exercise, it’s also very fulfilling to be able to provide fresh, healthy food for your family.
Creating a successful garden takes practice and patience. Don’t get discouraged if something doesn’t grow well – it’s all part of the learning experience. A garden plot can be a few square feet or more than an acre. It’s advisable that a beginning gardener starts out on a smaller scale so that things do not get overwhelming.
The first step is to select a location for your garden. A flat spot that receives at least 5-6 hours of direct sun per day is ideal. Most vegetable plants prefer to receive a lot of direct sunlight.
Next, grab a spade and start to turn the soil over. Remove any large rocks, roots or weeds. Once you’ve got your patch dug up, you can amend the soil. Compost and well-rotted manure will enrich the soil and provide nutrients to your plants. You may also be able to pick up bags of topsoil or garden soil from your local garden centre.
Dump the compost, manure or topsoil on to the top of your plot. Then, use your spade to mix everything together. Break up any big clumps of soil with your spade or with your hands.
Make a plan for how you want to organize your garden space. You can plant in neat little rows, or use the square-foot-gardening method – have fun and experiment! Some garden plants grow better sown directly in the garden, such as beans, peas, carrots or corn. If you’re interested in growing tomatoes, peppers and eggplants you will probably have better luck purchasing the seedlings from your local garden centre, especially if you have a short growing season.
Leave your plants enough space to spread out. Leave about 20cm of space around a row of salad greens, about 35cm of space around a row of carrots and 45cm around a row of beans. Courgettes and tomatoes will need 75 cm for each plant.
If rabbits are a pest in your area, it is helpful to fence in your garden plot with poultry wire or hardware cloth. Rabbits can dig, so you may want to bury the bottom edge of the fence in the ground to discourage them from trying to dig or squeeze under it.
Now that you’ve got your vegetable garden planted, it’s time to tend to it. Keep an eye out for any insects – most of the time you can either pick them off or give them a shot of insecticidal soap. It is wise to avoid using a lot of synthetic chemicals when growing vegetables. Your produce will be much healthier for your family when they haven’t been sprayed with chemicals – that’s one of the biggest advantages of growing your own vegetables.
You also should make sure that your plants get enough water. You can stick a finger in the soil to check – if it feels crumbly and dry, your plants probably need a drink. Regular watering will ensure that your vegetables grow big and strong.
The best part of gardening is enjoying the harvest! Not only is it rewarding to eat a fruit or vegetable that you grew yourself, it’s also healthier and in most cases, much more delicious than a store-bought equivalent.