If vegetable gardening at home is a completely new term for you, you are in for a treat! Nurturing veggies does demand for a little time and knowledge, but the results far outweigh the effort input. Today, we talk about the basics of starting a vegetable garden at home. We will cover areas like where to plant, what to plant, and how to take care of said plants in a variety of ways. These are all rudimentary things and you will learn the rest along the way, which is where the true thrill of making your own garden lies. You are actually getting to eat and share the fruits of your labor!
There are multiple reasons one would consider gardening but saving money has to be one of the primary one. When you get up close and personal with mother nature, you are introduced to a world of practices that can save you a lot of cash. The texture and flavor of garden-grown produce is significantly better than vegetables you’re picking up at the grocery store, and you will understand that the moment you cut a bite out of your hard-earned produce. Plus, gardening is a physically demanding activity, so you are putting in some work in your body. Many people have shared how gardening brings them a sense of peace – a place where they are able to unplug from the busy, hectic world and tap into a primal nature where they simply immerse themselves into the flora.
Convincing enough? Dig into (pun intended) these tips and tricks and you will be on your way to grow a veggie garden in no time.
Begin with a Small Garden
Don’t jump into a large area of land and go overboard if you are a newbie. Start small. A big garden requires time and dedication you as a newbie might be overwhelmed trying to put into it. It simply makes sense to learn the basics of gardening before investing more money and time in this new hobby. You will be able to gauge how much time gardening takes on a daily basis. It’s important to note that not everyone will like gardening. If you start with a small garden, you will understand if you actually like planting, weeding, and watering. In case you don’t find joy in it, feel no pressure continuing it.
Furthermore, you will learn how much produce you are yielding and how much you and your family can consume over a particular season.
A standard beginner’s vegetable garden measures at 10’ x 10’ – think of the size of a small bedroom. Simplicity is key. Pick up to five different vegetable types to grow and plant a few of each. If even 10’ x 10’ seems intimidating, there’s no shame in reducing the size of the garden. Or, you can even grow your veggies in containers. Starting a vegetable garden at home doesn’t necessarily call for a backyard in all cases. A balcony or sunny deck will work fine when you choose to plant in pots.
Grow Vegetables You Love
Ask yourself what you like to eat? You aren’t a child anymore so chances are, your indescribable hatred for broccoli has diminished over the years. Your answer will let you know what you should plant in your garden. Consider the following before picking up the shovel:
Make an assumption of how much you and your family will consume as well as how likely you are to can, freeze, or give away additional produce. Be realistic about how many plants or seeds need to be sowed. A common rookie mistake is planting too much. Veggies like peppers, squash, and tomatoes produce all throughout the season. Other vegetables like radishes, corn, and carrots can only be harvested once before they need to be replanted.
Diversification in vegetable plantation will provide you with harvest continuously through the summer, fall, and spring. Plant both warm- and cool-weather vegetables. Grow greens (like arugula), lettuce, carrots, radishes, broccoli, and peas in spring. After the cool-weather crops have been harvested, plant hot-weather vegetables, like peppers, tomatoes, herbs, and eggplants. You can harvest kale, cabbage, and potatoes in fall.
Tip: Vining crops like peas and green beans can put vertical space into good use and boost yield/sq. foot.
Choosing a Spot for the Garden
Choosing the growing site is a key element of starting a vegetable garden at home. If you are considering planting in the backyard, you will have to trek out daily or look out for droopy crops that need water, pesticide, and ones that are ready for harvest. Try placing the vegetable garden close to your house so you can harvest fresh produce or go out for a bit of herb shopping while cooking.
The movement of the sun is going to determine plant growth. Orient the garden starting from north to south to plan maximum sun exposure for your plants. No matter when the harden is located, success for planting depends on three things: Soil, sun and water.
Plan Adequate Sun Exposure
Like all greens, vegetables need enough sun to perform photosynthesis. The fastest-growing veggies require full sun (think at least six to eight hours per day) without fence, shrub, or tree blockage. With yards where only partial shade is available, plant herbs and vegetables that can thrive under those conditions (lettuce, spinach, chard, kale, parsley, chives, thyme, and cilantro). Root vegetables may also work if your selected location gets a minimum of four hours of direct sunlight a day.
Provide Adequate Water
We know this goes without saying, but we can’t emphasize the importance of properly watering your garden, especially in dry, warm weathers. Starting a vegetable garden at home begins with doing the very basic, and watering is what you know at gardening 101. During the first few weeks, the seedlings are transplanted or the seeds germinate, keep watering frequently. After the plants have spread their roots, it’s best to give them a long drink once every few days instead. This way, the water moves deeper into the soil, encouraging growth of roots.
Consider the soil composition as well as the weather conditions to decide when to water your garden. Sandy soil dries quicker than clay soil. Windy, sunny conditions such the moisture out of soil faster than cooler, cloudy weathers. Not sure yet? Take some from three to four inches down the container surface or garden. If it feels like, it needs a drink. It’s essential to do this step even on rainy days as rain water has a tendency to run off instead of soaking into the soil, potentially doing no good to your garden.
Tip: Try to place the garden as close as possible to a water source so the chore gets easier for you.
Checking and Adjusting the Soil
Starting a vegetable garden at home requires ideal soil conditions. Before you can even begin to sow your seeds, it’s necessary to test the soil. If you don’t have a soil-testing kit with you, the test can be conducted in three simple steps”
- Use a hose to soak the soil and way for a day. Then, dig up some soil to check.
- Squeeze the soil hard to see if any water streams out. If yes, you’ll probably want to add some organic matter or compost to improve drainage. Make sure to check the soil temperature as this is another factor indicating drainage capacity.
- If the soil is super crumbly or doesn’t form a ball when pressure is added, it’s too sandy. Mix in organic matter to fix it. If the ball breaks apart into smaller crumbs when it’s poked, similar to a moist chocolate cake, the soil is in perfect state. If the soil doesn’t possess great drainage capacity, your best bet would be to prepare raised beds instead of sunken ones.
Tips: Raising the garden beds is a simple way to fix this issue. On existing lawns, form the raised beds by lining the frames’ bottoms with multiple layers of newspaper before filling it with soil.
Selecting Vegetable Varieties
When choosing which vegetable to plant in your garden, pay close attention to the seed packet description, label, or tag. Every veggie variety comes with its own set of benefits. Some produce smaller crops best for small gardens or containers. Other varieties boast improved disease resistance, heat- or cold-tolerance, or yields. Begin by selecting the vegetables you like to eat, then consider their sizes when grown and care needed. If you’re still unsure, don’t hesitate to reach out to a garden-center or greenhouse staff.
Tip: You might want to try multiple varieties of the same veggie (like two or three). If one variety doesn’t yield expected produce, the others will make up for it. After this “test” you can plant only the best-performing variants the next year and try out others.
Caring for the Garden
You’ve put in all that effort into planning, prepping, and planting. It would be a great shame to let the garden die over the course of winter or summer. Keep these steps in mind to maintain overall strength of your garden:
- Proper weeding: Pesky, unwanted weeds compete with plants for nutrients, water, and light. Getting rid of them will help make sure your vegetable garden is getting 100% of the care you are providing it. Use a hand fork or hoe to lightly stir the top inch of the soil. This discourages weed seedlings growth. A mulch of compost, clean straw, or plastic can act like a barrier for larger plants against weeds.
- Feed the food: Before starting a vegetable garden at home, get some knowledge of fertilizers. These are food for your future food. Organic gardeners often claim that mixing top-notch compost during plantations is all their produce needs. Other gardeners may consider adding a mass-market fertilizer following the directions on the bag or box.
- Keep animals at bay: Big pests, like rabbits and deer can disrupt all types of vegetable gardening. A fence needs to extend six inches under the soil to resist rabbits from digging in. You will also need an 8-foot-tall fence to protect your garden against the excellent jumpers that are deer.
- Remove harmful insects: Picking off big caterpillars and insects by hands is an easy, effective way to fix infestation. For larger throngs of insects, try insecticidal sprays you can get at any garden center. Regardless of which pest-control you use, carefully follow the directions left by manufacturers.
- Fight fungal diseases: Decrease the chances of fungal infections by watering the soil rather than the plants’ leaves. If a sprinkler is used, do it early in the day so the leaves have ample time to dry off before nighttime. In case a plant contracts a disease, immediately pull it out and discard it; don’t mix sick plants into the compost pile.
Furthermore, additional diseases preventive measures include changing the plants’ location every year and growing veggie varieties marked as resistant to diseases. When you are changing the location from time to time, the diseases are unable to establish a permanent foothold in the garden.
This is the moment you’ve been waiting for from the second you started considering starting a vegetable garden at all; this is what it’s all about. Many vegetables can be harvest-ready multiple times in one growing season. For instance, leaf lettuce will continue to grow after some young, tender leaves have been snipped. Cucumber and zucchini can be harvested after the fruit grows a few inches long.
As a rule of thumb, if it looks appealing enough to eat, it’s probably ready.
Starting a vegetable garden at home isn’t the easiest of hobbies, but it is definitely super rewarding. The more you harvest, the more you’ll be inclined to grow. It’s time to find your inner greenfingers!
Also Read: Landscaping Tips for Home Garden – State Gardener