Vegetable Gardening for Beginners – Some Basic Tips
Growing your own vegetables is a rewarding activity. Not only does it give you the joy of working outside with the earth, it provides many nutritious meals for your family. Here is a little advice to get you started and to make your vegetable garden both easier and more productive.
The first step in having a successful vegetable garden is preparing the soil for seed planting. Well-prepared soil makes it easier for seeds to germinate and for seedlings to thrive. Your vegetable garden should be well-drained, and soil preparation should be deep, using plenty of rich organic matter like compost to help it retain moisture.
It’s a good idea to check the soil for pH or acidity. Vegetables usually need more alkaline soils. You can either submit your soil for testing at a laboratory, giving you very detailed results, or you can purchase an inexpensive soil tester at the local nursery or hardware store.
The soil should be relatively dry before you begin working or plowing your vegetable garden plot. Make sure your plot has easy access to water and locate it where you can get both full sun and partial shade to encourage different vegetable garden species. Most productive vegetable gardens need at least an inch of water, whether it comes from above in rain or from the tap, every week during the growing season. You can add a simple irrigation system with perforated piping to assure your vegetable garden gets the moisture it needs for thriving vegetable plants.
Before you get started, be sure to learn all you an about vegetable seeds and about the specific vegetables you want to harvest later on. Look for information on vulnerability to insects and fungus, germination requirements, needs for the timing and amount of light, and general plant hardiness. Be aware of what planting zone you’re working in. This will help you decide what types of plants to raise and when to plant and harvest.
To assure abundance, plant more seeds than you want in vegetable plants, as some of your seeds won’t germinate. Keep your vegetable garden moist (not muddy) until your seedlings show their second set of leaves. Continue to thin out the vegetable garden rows throughout the growing season so that the most hardy plants are highly productive. Test the soil regularly to assure it contains enough nutrients to feed all your healthy vegetable plants and use natural fertilizers for healthy plants.
If you decide to use manure, be sure that you know which plants are more sensitive. Manure can burn and damage vulnerable vegetable plants. If you have the time and space, making your own compost is a wonderful way to provide natural organic fertilizer, and it cuts down on the amount of garbage you contribute to the local landfill.
Healthy soil and plants are the best insurance against harmful insects and pests. This means using natural compost, watering regularly, and providing good drainage. You can also plant a border of marigolds around your vegetable garden to prevent aphid infestations.
A critical part of successful vegetable gardening is keeping your garden free of weeds. They steal water, light, and nutrients from your vegetable plants. Be sure to hoe your vegetable garden and cultivate the soil frequently, especially after it rains or you water your vegetable plants. Weeds are much easier to remove when the soil is loose and moist. Be careful, though, not to damage your vegetable plants when you pull weeds that are close to the stems or roots. Covering the soil between your vegetable garden rows with a light layer of pine needles mixed with cut grass will discourage weeds, as will laying wet newspaper between the rows.
These are only a few tips for having a productive vegetable garden. But this basic advice will take you a long way toward a healthy family diet throughout the growing season.