Learning the basics of vegetable gardening not only means savings at the grocery store for you and your family, but also offers the added benefits of quality time outside in the sun and fresh air, stress-relief, and the feelings of accomplishment.
Don’t think that not having a green thumb means you can’t grow a successful garden. Vegetable gardening doesn’t have to be complicated. Just by following a few basic guidelines, anyone can successfully produce an array of edible options from tomatoes and eggplant to beans and lettuces.
First, be sure to plan your garden’s layout and location carefully. Take into consideration that your garden will be better attended when planted close to your back door, garage, or shed. Close proximity to a water source, such as a hose or sprinkler, as well as a spot that receives at least five hours a sunlight a day are also important factors.
While many gardeners start their plants from seeds indoors, it is easier to purchase seedlings at your local nursery. Once the threat of frost has passed, till your soil and add a basic organic compound, such as compost, to nourish your new plants. The soil should be easy to crumble and loose, not packed down.
Each plant will come with a tag outlining care. Pay special attention to how deep and far apart plants need to be spaced. Plant taller plants in the back so they don’t block the sun of smaller plants. Tomatoes and beans often require support, while squashes and melons will spread along the ground. Flowers, like marigolds and mums, can be planted with your vegetables to encourage beneficial insects and pollination.
Most vegetable plants require at least one inch of rainfall each week, so be sure to water consistently. If the soil becomes dry or your plans droop, don’t be afraid to give a deep watering.
Use compost or basic organic fertilizer every three to four weeks for optimal growth and production. Mulch can help control weeds and conserve water. Because you are going to eat what you grow, avoid using pesticides or harsh insecticides. Ladybugs and nematodes can be introduced to control pests. Most nurseries offer organic solutions to common plant ailments.
Finally, be sure to enjoy your garden. It shouldn’t be all work and no play. Gardens, when tended properly, bestow a bounty of goods upon the gardener. Invite friends and family over for a feast of your fruits and vegetables, and make new friends by sharing with your neighbors. Gardens can bring smiles as well as full stomachs.