Growing your very own vegetables and sustaining your own vegetable garden can be extremely satisfying. Many people find that they benefit from having a garden of their own as they save money on fresh foods and are able to consume healthy vegetables that are not processed with chemicals. However, successful gardening consists of much more than just planting and watering. Below are a few basic steps that will ensure a successful and flourishing vegetable garden.
It is important to start your vegetable garden with a detailed plan in mind. Think about the location of your garden, as this is one of the most important aspects in the planning stage. Try to place your garden in a spot that gets a minimum of six hours of full sunlight a day and make sure the soil drains well. Areas that are exceptionally windy should not be used as the location for your garden as wind may break your plants and may cause unnecessary drying of the plants.
Choosing your vegetables
What you decide to grow in your garden will largely depend on what you and the other members of your household like and dislike. You may prefer to start your plants indoors from seeds or simply purchase and plant bedding plants.
You may also consider investing in a mesh or other fence to surround your garden to give it extra protection from dogs and other animals. In addition, this fence can help support plants such as tomato plants as wells as beans and peas. It may be helpful to plant your tallest plants farther back and your shorter plants near the front. This will allow for more even sunlight distribution and will help prevent the larger plants from shading the smaller ones.
Preparing the soil
Grassy lawn areas can be plowed in the fall. However, if you are unable to plow in the fall, you can do so during spring when the soil is dry enough to work. It is important that the soil not be plowed if it is very wet, unless it will be followed with a subsequent freeze. If you are preparing a small vegetable garden, the soil can be turned by hand using a shovel or spade. Larger gardens can be plowed using a garden tiller or small tractor. Create a level surface by raking soon after the soil is turned. This will create a smooth bed for planting.
Next, use a rake to pull the soil into raised rows that are about a foot across the top. Allow the sides to gently slope down to the walkways to permit appropriate drainage.
Sowing vegetable seeds
Use the diagram you created earlier as a guide and mark where each row of your garden will be planted. Now would be a good time to place any trellises that will be needed for plants that will require support or that will climb as they grow. Be sure to establish where your walkways will be at an early stage, so you can avoid packing the soil as you walk. Now you are all ready to plant your bedding plants and sow your seeds. It is suggested that you water your garden thoroughly the day before you begin planting.
If you are sowing vegetable seeds, use a long piece of string attached to two stakes or a long piece of lumber to mark out your rows. Next, create a “V” shaped furrow with the depth that is recommended on the back of the seed packet. Next, tear the corner of the seed packet, and slowly start distributing the seeds down the row. Large seeds can be planted individually within the row. Next, cover the seeds with soil and firm the soil over them to ensure they get proper moisture and nutrition. Be sure to plant extra seeds to accommodate for failed germination. Water your garden thoroughly being careful not to disturb the freshly planted seeds.
Planting vegetable bedding plants
If you purchased bedding plants, water them thoroughly before planting to lessen the shock of transplant. To plant your bedding plants, simply dig a small hole, which is slightly larger than the roots of the plant. Set the plant in the ground and firm the soil over the roots ensuring good contact. Next, be sure to water thoroughly.
Maintaining your garden
During dry periods, be sure to water your garden more than normal. You can also use mulch between the rows to help control weeds while also preserving the moisture in the soil. Vegetable gardens can be a very satisfying way to grow fresh and healthy produce for your family. Save money, eat well and enjoy your new garden!