Tips for a Successful Vegetable Garden
A vegetable garden plot that is just 4 feet wide by 4 feet long is large enough to feed a person all summer long. And there will even be some leftovers for preserving or sharing with others. When this amount of space is multiplied for each member of the household, the savings are significant. This alone is enough to encourage many people who are used to spending a fortune at the grocery store for food to give gardening a try. However, creating a garden that will be a success isn’t as simple as digging some holes and throwing in a couple of seeds. So to help make the process easier, here are some helpful tips to make sure yours is a success.
The first task for creating a garden is to pick the right location. Most vegetable plants prefer a place that will be sunny for most of the day. So measure the amount of time it takes for the sun to shift from one area of your yard to the other.
Then, use twine and some stakes to create the layout. Remember the above rule for how much space has to be allotted for each person. It can be increased some for those who want to grow bulkier vegetables. But if this is your first time growing a vegetable garden, it is best not to get too carried away.
After this, you can start preparing the soil. If there is grass present, don’t try to use a weed-killer to get rid of it because the herbicide will also kill anything that you try to plant there. Use a flat-bladed shovel to wedge the grass and its roots up instead. It might be tempting to till the entire plot without removing the grass, but this will create more work because the grass will regrow, which means you will have extra weeding to do.
And finally, the soil has to be enriched with some extra nutrition. So spread a layer of compost and manure over the entire plot. Then, mix it in with a garden rake.
Part of making sure that your garden is a success is to choose the right vegetable plants. To decide which ones to get, think about the vegetables that you normally buy from the store. If the season is early, you can plant seeds instead of buying pre-grown plants though. Seeds are much cheaper, and they allow you more control over the quality of the plants that you grow. But choose a good brand of seeds though. Some companies sell damaged, old seeds that are infertile.
One of the most common problems that new gardeners have with choosing plants is that they forget to consider the mature size that they are going to end up being. So their tall stalks of corn overshadow the lettuce planted next to them. Or their tomato plants get cramped in too small of a corner. This can be prevented by using a pencil and paper to draw out a blueprint for the garden before doing any planting. To know how much space they will need, just read the package that the plants or seeds come in.
And don’t forget to use twine and small signs to mark your rows. Some seeds take up to two weeks to sprout, which means you could easily forget where you planted everything. Leave the twine in place until the plants are several inches high.
Once the vegetables are established, the garden still has to be cared for. The most important part of maintenance is a good watering schedule. Some expert gardeners like to use a drip-system instead of spraying water each day because less water will evaporate. Plants will grow larger and healthier if the water is released slowly throughout the day.
Fertilizer is also important. The plants will use up most of the nutrition that was initially added to the soil pretty quickly. So it has to be replenished. Liquid fertilizer is best because it can be absorbed the most easily. But don’t spray it directly on the plants, since it will burn them.
Don’t forget to regularly weed the area too. Weeds will choke out the other plants, and they will make the area look messy. The amount of weeds can be reduced by laying down newspaper underneath the soil that is in between the rows of plants.
Each vegetable plant has its own rate of maturity. Some will be ready to harvest after just a month or so of growth. Others won’t be ready until the end of summer. So you will have to check on them regularly to see when they can be picked.
Carefully remove the vegetables when they are ready though. Don’t just pull them off the vine or main plant. This will damage it. Use a sharp pair of pruning shears instead.
Having a vegetable garden is quite rewarding once you get to harvest your plants.