Learn to start your own vegetable garden simply.
A simple guide to starting your own vegetable garden
Vegetable gardening is a fun and rewarding experience. Nothing tastes better than a fresh tomato from your own garden and nothing beats the convenience of stepping outside your backdoor to pick one. Here are some simple steps to help get you started.If you’re in an apartment or condo and do not have land to till consider using large containers.
Select where to place your garden:
- If you’re lucky enough to have ground, consider the following:
Start out small. A 2’x 6’ garden bed is ideal for the first year. This will allow you to plant 2 tomato plants, a pepper, lettuce and green beans.
- 8 or more hours of sun as vegetables are sun worshipers. Trying to grow vegetables in less light will be disappointing
- Select a level area where the soil drains well. Water should not be standing there the day after a rain.
- Place your garden where you have access to water.
Take a soil test to determine whether or not you need to add nutrients as well as testing for pH. Vegetables require certain levels for success.
Dig a trench to edge the garden
Skim off the sod and place it in your compost pile.
Turn the soil, digging it to the depth of the shovel.
Add the following amendments on top of the freshly turned soil and mix in: (Consult your nursery specialist for amounts.)
- Good organic compost to loosen and rejuvenate the soil.
- Worm castings, a rich, all-natural source of organic matter with nutrients and moisture-holding capabilities.
- A good organic fertilizer.
This may seem like a lot of soil amendments but it’s hard to add too much organic matter. Soils rich in organic matter provide the best environment for roots to grow. Healthy roots make healthy plants. Healthy plants are better able to fend off diseases and insects and produce bumper crops
Break apart any large clods of soil and rake the bed so that it is slightly mounded in the center. This helps drainage and also helps to keep the soil in the bed.
Ready to plant! Set out (that’s horticulture talk for planting) your tomato and pepper plants. If it’s springtime you have time to plant lettuce either as transplants or from seed and later when it’s finished producing…usually in June…plant green beans from seeds in the same area. Now you’re really being efficient with your garden space!
Place tomato cages or stakes so the tomatoes can be trained to grow upright.
Water in the transplants and seeds well. The first few days you will need to water them daily. Their roots are small and are growing into your wonderfully prepared bed. Eventually, you’ll be watering less frequently. A soaker hose is a good way to water vegetables because it avoids watering the leaves of the plants, which can lead to fungus diseases. A good thorough soak every 5 to 7 days will be needed depending on the weather and the heat. Use a rain gauge to measure the amount you water. Gardens should receive 1 to 1 ½” of water per week in summer. Use this time in your garden to check your plants for insects.
Keep weeds from getting too big by picking them when they’re small. Once your garden seedlings have sprouted you can use weed preventer with corn gluten to keep weeds from sprouting. A 2” layer of mulch will also deter weeds and conserve soil moisture. Mulch also moderates the soil temperature.
If rabbits are bothersome, plan on encircling the garden with a 2 foot fence of small mesh. 4-foot metal stakes work well to hold the fence in place. Use one on each corner and additional ones are needed when spanning a long stretch. Make sure that the fence is firmly against the soil as the bunnies will go under it if they can
Enjoy the fruits (or vegetables) of your labor!
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