Starting a small vegetable garden at home is a great way to save money. It will also give you the pleasure of tasting delicious, sun-warmed vegetables straight from the garden. Besides, growing vegetables can be a fun way to spend more time with your family or spend time outdoors in the sun.
If this is going to be your first vegetable garden, it’s better to start small. To plan your garden, consider how much your family can eat. Keep in mind that vegetables like tomatoes, peppers and squash keep providing throughout the season. You may not need too many plants to serve your needs. Vegetables like carrots, radishes and corn produce only once. You may need to plant more of these.
When you decide what you’re going to plant, you need to figure out how much space you need for your vegetable garden. You don’t need a large space to begin. If you’re going to plant vegetables in containers, a deck or a balcony will provide enough space. Actually, a well-tended 10×10-foot garden will provide more than a large, weed-filled and disease-ridden garden.
In order to succeed with your vegetable garden, you need to pick the right spot for planting. Most vegetables need plenty of direct sunlight. Otherwise, they won’t bear as much and will be more susceptible to insect attacks and diseases.
Your vegetable garden will also need plenty of water, because most vegetables aren’t drought-tolerant. The closer your garden is to a water source, the easier it will be for you.
The type of soil is also very important. Most vegetables do best in moist, well-drained soil, rich in organic matter.
When you choose the vegetables and the exact spot for your garden, the next thing to do is plan the layout. There are two basic approaches to this.
Row cropping is when you place plants in rows, leaving a walking path between each row. It works best for large gardens and makes it easier to use mechanical equipment. The downside of row cropping is that you don’t get as many vegetables in small space, because much of the soil is used for paths instead of planting vegetables.
Intensive cropping reduces the space needed for paths, but the closer spacing of the vegetables means that you’ll have to weed by hand. That’s why it’s important not to make the rows wider than you can reach.
Intensive cropping allows you to design your vegetable garden, which makes it a great choice for growing vegetables in your front yard, for example.
Once you have planted your vegetable garden, it is important to care for it well. Most vegetables like steady moisture supply, but not so much that they’re standing in water. About an inch of water per week is usually sufficient. Water when the top inch of soil is dry.
Keep the weeds to a minimum. Use a hoe to lightly stir the top inch of soil regularly. A mulch of clean straw, compost or plastic can keep weeds at bay around larger plants.
Fertilizing your crops is essential. Digging in high-quality compost at planting time may be all your vegetables need. Also consider applying a packaged vegetable fertilizer, following the instructions on the package.
Many vegetables can be harvested at several stages. The general rule is that if it looks good enough to eat, then it probably is. Just give it a try. With many vegetables, the more you pick, the more the plant produces.
These are just a few tips for starting a small vegetable garden. If you need additional information on certain vegetables, you can check online. Once you plant your garden, make sure you protect it from pests with products, available at your local garden center.