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More and more people are starting their own vegetable gardens in recent years. The great thing is that you can start one whether you have a yard or a sunny windowsill in your home. Fresh vegetables from your garden taste great, and they are juicy with the perfect texture. Anyone who wants to try it can do it.
When you start your vegetable garden, you will want to choose the right place for it, and then plan the right size and which vegetables you plant to grow. Set a budget so that you make it easier to determine your supplies and plants. You also need to consider the maintenance requirements of each one.
It can be very rewarding to start a vegetable garden as long as you plan ahead. Take a look at the following growing vegetable tips.
Choose Your Location
One of the most important parts of creating a vegetable garden is choosing an ideal location. When the conditions are ideal for growing vegetables, you will have a higher yield and they will be delicious. Consider the following when you choose your location:
You Need a Sunny Spot: Most vegetables need at least six hours of sun every day. There are some leafy veggies that will tolerate shade, but you need between six and eight hours of sun for most vegetables.
Good Drainage: if you are planting your vegetables in the ground, you need soil that drains well. Wet, soggy soil will keep the roots too wet, which can cause them to rot. You should also remove rocks in the soil so that they don’t interfere with the root growth of your vegetables.
Protection From Wind: Make sure that your location offers the vegetables some protection from the wind, or they may get knocked over. Winds also prevent pollinators from spending time there.
Healthy Soil: If you are planting in the ground, you need to make sure that your soil has the nutrients that your vegetables need. You can mix in organic matter if you need it. Test the soil to find out what you need to add.
Start Small and Increase Your Size Over Time
When you are starting out, it can be exciting to buy a lot of different plants and jump right into your vegetable garden. However, you may quickly realize that you are growing more vegetables than you can eat. The best way to get a feel for what you need is to start out small.
For example, if you are planting in the ground, you can begin with a manageable size, such as 10’ x 10’. This is 100 square feet, and it will easily grow 20 to 25 plants. Choose between three and five of your favorite vegetables, and buy three or four plants for each one you choose.
You may also be starting with a raised bed, and you can choose a 4’ x 4’ or even a 4’ x 8’ bed. You can build them yourself, and you will be able to control the plants better.
Make sure that you have enough room between plants to get in there and weed or harvest your vegetables. You don’t want to step on the plants in the soil when you need to work with them.
Choose Vegetables That Are Easy to Grow
When you are starting out, it is always a good idea to set yourself up for success. Choose plants that are easier to grow as you are learning. Some easy vegetables include the following:
- Green beans
- Spinach and kale
You can also mix in marigolds, which are colorful flowers that attract pollinators and repel a lot of different pests.
Choose Vegetables That You Want to Eat
When you are choosing vegetables, you should take a practical approach. You need to choose vegetables that your family will want to eat. If you eat a lot of carrots or salads, stick with lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, and other salad vegetables.
You also need to consider how much your family can eat. If you get carried away and overplant, you will spend a lot of time taking care of extra plants, and you will have to find a way to store them. Some people grow extra and sell them at a farmer’s market or give them to extended family and friends. You can decide how much work you want to put into it.
You should also consider what is available at your grocery store. If there are vegetables that are easy to get and affordable at local stores, you might make other selections. However, lettuce and tomatoes are delicious when you grow them, and if you grow your own herbs, they are much less expensive than buying them at the store.
Buy High-Quality Seeds
Buying seed packets is less expensive than buying started plants, and buying high-quality seeds helps to ensure that more of them germinate when it is time. It is worthwhile to spend a little more on your seeds to yield a more productive harvest later in the year.
Quality Soil Is Critical
Your soil is everything when you are growing vegetables. If you have planters or a raised bed, it is much easier to control your soil, but you can also make sure that your soil has what it needs when it is in the ground.
Vegetables require a lot of compost and organic matter, and you need to make sure that the soil drains well. It shouldn’t be sandy or compacted. There should be plenty of room for the roots to grow and become strong.
Organic material is necessary because it provides the nutrients that your plants need. It also helps to soften the soil so that the roots of your plants can establish themselves. You can use fertilizer for this organic material, but having true compost is ideal.
You can compost at home, and it requires a few things. You should have browns, which include carbon-rich items such as dead leaves, newspaper, or dried grass. Then, you have your greens, including vegetable scraps, eggshells, and coffee grounds. You also need moisture, aeration, and time to leave it all in the pile. This way, the aerobic bacteria grow.
Another important element in your soil is pH. Generally speaking, vegetables require a soil pH of 6 or 7, which is neutral. You can buy a test kit or have your soil tested by a professional. You want to get the pH right because it will have an impact on how well your vegetables grow.
It is also important to know that soil requirements can be different depending on whether you are planting in the ground or in a raised bed. Many vegetables that are in a raised bed do well with a combination of half compost and half topsoil. Most of the premixed soil you can buy won’t have enough nutrients, so you should try to use it from your yard or mix it in the compost.
Understand How to Water
Some people think that they should water their vegetable garden every day, and they turn the hose on, spray overhead for a few minutes, and move on. However, this is not the best idea. Most vegetables require about one inch of water each week, including what they get from the rain.
The most efficient way to water your vegetables is by using drip lines and soaker hoses. They deliver water slowly and target the roots. This gives your vegetables plenty of time to absorb the water they need, and it prevents the foliage from becoming wet. It is important not to get the leaves wet because it can lead to diseases.
You should also water in the morning, preferably between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m. This gives your plants plenty of time to absorb the water, and it ensures that they will be dry. The soil is coolest at that time, so you will minimize water loss from evaporation.
If you want to make it easier, you can add automatic timers on your drip or soaker hose irrigation, and your vegetables will have what they need every day. Be thoughtful about watering because it plays a large role in the health and success of your vegetable garden.
Use Mulch in Your Vegetable Garden
Mulch is a great tool to use in your vegetable garden. Try to find organic mulch, and place about three inches of it around your vegetable plants and over your watering system if you can. There are many benefits to using mulch. First, it will help to insulate the soil so that it stays cooler in the summer. It also helps the soil retain moisture.
Mulch can help to reduce the number of weeds that grow in your garden, and it serves as a protective barrier to any diseases that could come up from the soil. As an added benefit, it looks nice and adds a finishing touch to your garden.
When you choose a mulch, it is important to know what you are getting. You don’t want to take any mulch you find at the store because some have a lot of dangerous chemicals. You should always ask about the ingredients of mulch before you buy it. You can look for mulch that is stamped by the Mulch and Soil Council, which means that they are free of any harmful ingredients.
Be Cautious with Pest Control
You will come across pests in your vegetable garden, but you need to be patient. Only a small number of these pests are harmful, and you want to avoid pesticides in your vegetable garden. If you take the time to make sure that your garden promotes healthy plant growth, your plants will be able to stand up to the pests that they encounter much better.
If you end up having to use any insecticides, be cautious. You should never apply them in the morning because this is when the beneficial insects and pollinators are out. However, you should look into alternative treatments because any insecticides you use can seep into your vegetables. If you want to keep your garden organic, you will need to find other ways to deter the pests.
Don’t Use Too Much Fertilizer
If you use too much fertilizer, you may get excited about the green growth when you start your garden, but you will not be so excited when your plants yield a small harvest. The first number of the fertilizer package tells you how much nitrogen is in the fertilizer, and this is what helps create a lush green garden. But it will reduce your harvest.
In place of fertilizer, vegetables do well with as much organic compost as you can give them. You should make organic compost as close to 20% of the soil in the ground as you can, and make it 50% in raised beds. This is completely natural and free of chemicals, and it gives your plants everything they need. Rather than feeding your plants, feed your soil so that it can feed the plants.
Plan Your Layout
When you start your garden, it is important to plan your layout. Take a look at your space, and determine where each plant will go and when each one needs to be planted. You need to know that some vegetables are cool-season, while others are warm-season, which means the soil needs to be a certain temperature.
You will want to plant taller vegetable plants on the north side of your garden. Most vegetables need direct sunlight six to eight hours each day, so you don’t want your tall plants to shade the smaller ones. You should also reserve any shady areas in your garden for cool-season vegetables. They will do well there when it is warm outside.
You should also know which vegetables are annuals and which are perennials. If you grow perennials, such as asparagus, some herbs, and other plants, they should be planted in a permanent garden separate from where you plant your annuals.
Another factor to consider is how quickly your plants grow and how long their harvest period lasts. Most seed packets will list the days to maturity, which tells you how long you have to wait. Tomatoes will take longer to mature, but they have a longer harvest season, while radishes are much quicker with a very short harvest.
You should consider staggering your plantings so that you have your vegetables available throughout the year. If you plant five lettuce plants at the same time, they will all be ready for harvesting at the same time. Stagger your plants so that they give you vegetables for the longest period of time.
Know When to Plant Each Plant
When you grow vegetables, you need to know when to plant each of your plants. You can often start the seeds in your house before you plant them out in the garden, but it is important to understand what season the plants do best in, what their temperature requirements are, and other details.
You should start with a list of vegetables that grow well in each season. You can plant cool-season vegetables in March or April, but your warm-season vegetables need the soil to be warmer. Cool-season vegetables include lettuce, broccoli, and peas, and they grow well in the early spring and fall. Tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers are warm-season vegetables, and you should plant them in the late spring and summer.
Is There Money in Growing Vegetables?
When people get started growing vegetables, they often wonder if they can make money selling vegetables. The fact is that you can make some extra money, as long as you are organized. People often get into selling their vegetables because they grow more than they can eat. Rather than tossing them in the compost pile, they find that there is a demand for them.
It is important to keep it simple when you start out selling your vegetables. First, you should decide where you are going to sell them. Is there a farmer’s market or a vegetable stand in the area? Do you have enough contacts to start a customer-based business? You need to know where you will sell them before you plant anything.
Then, you need to decide what to sell and how to sell it. When you are considering what to sell, consider what is the easiest to sell and makes the most money. You also need to know how difficult it is to prepare and store these veggies. If you’re going to sell at a farmer’s market, ask around and look at what is popular. Consider vegetables that last longer than a day, or you will have trouble keeping them until you sell them.
One way to display them is to combine different vegetables in baskets with a theme. You can also make signs that show people what they are. You will want to have a logo and a name for your vegetable garden so that people remember it. You can organize the baskets or boxes so that they appear to be overflowing, and add some flowers in for color.
Another great idea is to have samples for people, which is always enticing. Make use of tablecloths on your stand and napkins that give your business a higher-end feel. You should only sell quality vegetables from your harvest. They need to look good above all. Your vegetables should look fresh and clean.
Growing a vegetable garden is rewarding and allows your family to eat delicious, nutritious vegetables throughout the year. Follow the tips mentioned above for the most success.