Starting a vegetable garden at home is an easy way to save money. Learning what to plant in a garden with vegetables, and how to tend them for the best harvest, is probably easier than you think. The following 10 simple tips will help you to create a more productive and less maintenance vegetable garden.
1. Observe and Take Note
Before you begin gardening, you must observe the space you are about to use, perfectly. Take a look at every aspect of the selected area neatly and consider how you can use it. Jot down these questions and try to find out all the answers.
- How big or small it is?
- Which way the wind blows and how windy it is?
- Is it sloppy or shady?
- How many hours of sun does it get?
- Which spots are the longest sunny?
- Where is partial shade?
- How you will water the garden?
- How you can use rainwater?
- What is the pH level of soil and other nutrients in it? (must use soil pH tester)
- How you can use the space more effectively and what is the average temperature and in which zone your area falls into?
- Once you ferret out the details, the chances of your success as a gardener will increase.
– At first, when deciding what to plant in a garden with vegetables, it’s best to start small. One of the common errors for beginners is planting too much too soon and way more than anybody could eat or want.
– If you’re short on space, garlic, leeks, and shallots make excellent container plants. They tend to have few insect or disease problems and don’t require much room for roots.
2. Prepare Your Soil
Work on your soil. A healthy, organic and nutrient-rich soil is the basis of a stable and productive vegetable garden. This will enable the development of strong root system that is less prone to diseases and supply plants very valuable micro and macro elements and water. Being able to draw nutrients and water from the depths of soil, the plants will grow better above the ground become more productive.
The quickest way to get a few feet thick layer of fertile soil is to make raised beds. A raised bed should be rich in organic matter like aged manure, compost or vermicompost, and perlite or sand if soil is not well draining.
Investing in the construction of raised bed also has economic advantages, its shape allows the cultivation of more plants in the same space. It is estimated that raised vegetable garden yields four times more than the standard flat bed.
– Healthy soil means healthy plants that are better able to resist pests and disease, reducing the need for harmful pesticides.
– Healthy soil also means a thriving population of microbes, earthworms, and other organisms. A soil that has “good tilth” will produce robust garden plants that are better able to resist pests and disease.
3. Design and Planning
Notice how the plants deploy on a spot. Analyze their needs and try to plant the plants in a way that you can utilize every inch of space. Imagine the plants like a puzzle or building blocks and take a piece of paper and a pencil to draw the plan of your garden.
- Consider the practical issues like which plants will be planted where?
- How can you arrange them to make your garden more efficient and convenient?
Many plants, such as beans, peas, pumpkin like to writhe on the ground or climb on support. Providing them with support in the form of a trellis, nets or grilles increases the area of the garden as you can grow shady vegetables and other edible plants in the shade of them.
– Plants will do best if they are well suited to your growing area. Take some time to read up and choose plants accordingly.
– Buy high-quality seeds. Seed packets are less expensive than individual plants. If seeds don’t germinate, your money—and time—are wasted.
4. Grow Vertical
Grow vertical, especially if you’re running out of space. Apart from saving space, there are many other benefits of vertical planting: less or no fungal diseases, improved air circulation means healthy and more productive plants, ease in harvesting.
– Train your melons, squash, and cucumbers onto a vertical trellis or fence. Saves space and looks pretty too.
5. Companion Planting
Search for the optimal combinations of plants. Try to maintain biodiversity. Grow the plants together that have similar growing requirements and are a companion to each other.
Companion planting is an excellent way to improve your garden. Some plants replenish nutrients lost by another one, and some combinations effectively keep pests away.
If you are growing annuals be sure to do crop rotation or plan a new set of plants in the growing area for next season. Grow nitrogen fixing plants such as legumes and beans combined with flowers.
Remember the value of compost and vermicompost. Build your own compost bin. This way you’ll be able to get rid of your organic waste every day and become more self-sufficient and get natural fertilizer, compost also improves the texture of the soil. Use other sources like manure, coffee grounds, and wood ash to enrich your soil.
6. Grow Local
Local and native plants that are traditionally grown in your region should be your first priority as they are easiest to grow and more productive, especially for beginners. Generally, such crops are also more resistant to pests and diseases and local weather conditions. Opposite to high maintenance exotic vegetables, local vegetables are undemanding and grows in a variety of soil types.
A thick layer of mulch is also necessary for your garden to help retain moisture. Mulching provides warmth on cold days and chill in the hot. It protects roots from the harsh sun and gradually decaying lowest portion of mulch enriches the soil too.
– Milk jugs, soda bottles, and other plastic containers make great mini-covers to place over your plants and protect them from frost.
– Keep garden vegetables from getting dirty by spreading a 1-2 inch layer of mulch (untreated by pesticides or fertilizers) around each plant. This will also help keep the weeds down.
Watering the right way can increase the yield of plant and avoid many pests and diseases. Generally, one-inch water per week including rainfall is sufficient for most vegetables. Although, it depends more on soil type, weather and plant.
Most efficient way of irrigating plants in the garden is by using soaker hoses and drip lines as they deliver the water right where it is needed and allows time for roots to absorb water. If in case you’re growing a container vegetable garden, read– How to water container plants.
– Water your garden in the early morning to conserve moisture loss and to help avoid powdery mildew and other fungal diseases that are often spread by high humidity levels.
– Over watering is worse than under watering. It is easier to revive a dry plant than try to dry out drowned roots.
9. Use of Pesticides
Pests and diseases are the most heartbreaking and common thing happen to any gardener. The easiest way to kill them is to use chemical pesticides and insecticides, but do you really want to use them?
Don’t use chemical pesticides until possible, they are harmful and also kill the beneficial insects and pollinators. Go organic, experiment with natural remedies to see what is effective. Turmeric, garlic, chilies, onion, insecticidal soaps, neem and horticulture oils are useful and repel the pests.
Remember, you need to be patient and consistent with natural pesticides and at last, if you’re using chemical pesticides, use them when pollinators are inactive in the evening.
– Garden vegetables that become over-ripe are an easy target for some pests. Remove them as soon as possible to avoid detection.
– Insects can’t stand plants such as garlic, onions, chives and chrysanthemums. Grow these plants around the garden to help repel insects.
– Diatomaceous earth makes an excellent organic insecticide – it is an abrasive white powder used to damage the cuticle, skin, and joints of insects. It also makes an excellent slug barrier.
10. Don’t Overfertilize
Beginners often do this mistake. They believe the more fertilizer they will feed the better and healthier their plants will become. But overfertilization can burn the roots of your plants, it can imbalance the soil and even kill earthworms and other beneficial soil insects.
It is best to get your soil tested to find out which nutrients your soil needs and fulfill them accordingly. Also, mix as much compost and other organic matter as possible.
– Try to use only natural and organic fertilizers and soil amendments: earthworms love them! Earthworms are extremely beneficial in the vegetable garden; increasing air space in the soil and leaving behind worm castings. Do what you can to encourage earthworms in your soil.
– When planting a flower or vegetable transplant, deposit a handful of compost into each hole. Compost will provide transplants with an extra boost that lasts throughout the growing season.
– Compost needs time to integrate and stabilize in the soil. Apply two to three weeks prior to planting.
– There is an easy way to mix compost into your soil without a lot of back breaking work: Spread the compost over your garden in the late fall, after all the harvesting is done. Cover with a winter mulch such as hay or chopped leaves and let nature take its course. By spring, the melting snow and soil organisms will have worked the compost in for you.