Vegetable gardening How to get started?
The focus on Vegetable Gardening and Herb gardening in the past several years has been on growing more flavorful, nutritious, and fresher produce than can be found in your local grocery store. Our mouths water for the fresh herbs, garden ripened tomatoes, spicy ethnic peppers, and veggies of all kinds that we see in farmer’s markets and high end grocery stores. But growing your own vegetables is easy and fun and produces a more flavorful harvest for your cooking. We often get asked by beginner gardeners, “How do I get started?” or “I don’t know what to do!”
Going through these basic steps will make you feel like an expert at vegetable gardening and get you ready for spring planting:
Choose a location for your vegetable garden:
Ideally, vegetable gardens should be planted with some areas in full sunshine (for tomatoes, peppers and other fruiting vegetables) and some smaller area that is shaded in the afternoon if you live in an area with hot summers (especially for annual herbs such as basil and dill). Soil conditions do not have to be perfect, but areas with good drainage are best. Vegetable gardening near the kitchen encourages you to harvest as you cook.
Plan your kitchen garden with your needs in mind. Calculate what vegetables you will use the most. (Warning: Do not plan your garden when you are hungry. As with grocery shopping, there is a tendency to overdo when your stomach is growling.) Grow just a few plants of each of the vegetables and herbs that you use most frequently. Avoid large items like watermelons and squashes at first; although they are easy to grow, a small garden can quickly be overrun by their size.
Organize the vegetable garden for working. Plan walkways, and planting beds that are an appropriate size to make harvesting and reaching weeds easy. Plan to have taller plants toward the back and shorter plants toward the front. Avoid any tree roots and other obstructions, and make sure your water hose can reach all areas of the garden.
Work the Soil
Hard, compacted ground not only stunts root growth, but also prevents growth above ground. Rototillers and digging forks are the best for breaking up hard, packed soil. Additionally, test your soil; you may need to add lime to correct the pH, especially if you live in an area with heavy rainfall.
Adding compost to the soil is the most important thing you can do for your garden. Composted manures or leaves add organic material to the garden, which breaks down and improves the texture and nutrient content of your soil. Mulch provides a nice blanket that protects plants and keeps their roots moist and cool. For the best success, always add both compost and mulch to your garden, early every season, and clean out debris to prevent bad insects from moving in to stay.
Containers Can Be Great Vegetable Gardens:
If you are limited by space or mobility, use large containers for your vegetable garden and also plant combinations of herbs, vegetable plants, and strawberries. Use deep containers for best results, and always add compost to whatever potting soil you buy. Organic and slow-release fertilizers also help retain nutrients which allows you to plant and forget them for a while. Make sure you allow enough room for each plant to grow.
It is Most Important to Plant Vegetables at the Correct Time of Year for Your Area
Use your estimated last frost date as a guide for tender vegetables, such as tomatoes and peppers. Cool season vegetable plants, however, grow best while nights are still nippy and cool. Herbs can be planted early but most prefer the warmer soil of late spring.. Remember, for best results, it is essential that you choose healthy plants for your vegetable garden from The Tasteful Garden!