Tips for Growing a Vegetable Garden
Growing your own vegetable garden is becoming the hottest trend in home gardening right now. With the unstable economy since COVID, and the decreased availability of some food sources, we have all had to look for ways to save money and become more resourceful. We also want to be sure that the food we’re putting in our bodies is as healthy and home grown tastes better than anything you can buy at the store.
Just like the other 21 million people in North America who will be starting a vegetable garden this year for the first time, some proven tips will come in handy to achieve a bountiful garden.
Home vegetable gardens are simple to get started, and with these few simple steps, won’t require a great deal of work to keep it growing strong.
Location of your vegetable garden is key
Most vegetable plants do best with at least 6 hours of full sun per day. Place taller plants, such as corn, tomatoes and pole beans onthe north or north west side so they don’t shade the smaller plants, allowing for more exposure to the sun.
It’s all about the soil
Healthy vegetables require soil that is rich in compost and organic matter (composted leaves and ground or shredded, aged bark). Be sure to incorporate enough organic material so that the soil is neither sandy nor compacted.
Ideally, it will bind together when squeezed and break apart easily when disturbed. The soil will be full of living microorganisms that help feed your plants and water will be sufficiently retained without saturating the soil.
For an even more successful start to your garden, we recommend using Gardener’s Choice, a multi-purpose Home & Garden micronutrient product that improves nutrient absorption in plants and soil, resulting in an increase in root structure, yield, quality, size, amount and nutritive content. Many home gardeners report that the plants flower earlier and produce tastier vegetables as well.
For most vegetable plants, one inch of water per week, which includes rainfall, is sufficient. Soaker hoses and drip lines are both efficient and convenient. They deliver water slowly and on target, allowing roots time to absorb the moisture and soil to adequately hydrate while keeping foliage dry. Wet foliage for extended periods can promote diseases. Automatic timers are helpful and take the worry away from this important step.
Add a three-inch layer of any organic mulch around your plants and over the irrigation lines if possible. Mulch insulates the soil, keeping it cooler in summer and warmer in winter. It also helps retain moisture, suppress weeds and acts as a protective barrier from diseases splashing up onto the plants from the soil. It also looks attractive in the garden.
Some mulches can contain unacceptable amounts of harmful chemicals. The Mulch and Soil Council, certifies bagged mulches and soils to be free of any harmful ingredients. Look for their seal on the bag or ask your bulk mulch supplier if they know the source of their mulch.
Use patience with pest control
About 3% of the insects in your garden are actually harmful pests. Practice the steps mentioned so far to promote the growth of healthy plants which are better able to stand up to potential pest invasions.
It’s best not to use pesticides on a food garden, but if you must, apply them responsibly and only when necessary! Focus instead on growing healthy plants with great soil and sunny conditions and let nature take its course. Never apply pesticides in the morning when pollinators and beneficial insects are most active as you’ll likely kill them as well. Synthetic and even many organic/natural pesticides are non-selective meaning they will kill beneficial insects too.
Don’t over fertilize
Too much fertilizer, especially nitrogen, can promote lush green growth at the expense of a smaller harvest and can also be harmful to your plants and the soil. Increase organic compost as possible, up to about 20% of the total soil makeup. Incorporate it into the rest of the soil and you’ll be supplying your plants with the nutrients they need to thrive naturally; feed the soil and let the soil feed the plants.
Preparation is key with the payoff being a healthier, more productive vegetable garden and fresh, tasty home grown food.
“Tips for Growing the Perfect Vegetable Garden” Joe Lamp’l, Retrieved 21 Nov 2018. <https://www.growingagreenerworld.com/tips-for-growing-the-perfect-vegetable-garden/>