SIMPLE Gardening: How to Start a Vegetable Garden from Scratch!
Starting a personal vegetable garden is one of the best ways to save money and live a healthy life. With everyone now concerned about where their food is coming from, starting your vegetable garden will ensure that you get a fresh supply of groceries every time.
Like any other practice in life, gardening also comes with its fair share of challenges. If this is your first time setting up one, you can expect the process to be a little daunting at first but I promise that you’ll love the outcome.
Simply think of it as a hobby, and enjoy every single minute while at it.
Luckily, this article tackles the question of how to start a vegetable garden, and discusses various tips that will help you plan, prepare, plant, and maintain your garden.
Start the Garden Small
Before trying out something new, strategists always advise that you start small. Apart from being largely economical, starting small helps to project and simulate the overall experience in a bigger context.
The case isn’t any different when it comes to gardening. Beginners should always start by setting up a small vegetable garden. Smaller setups are much more manageable than bigger ones, giving you more time to hone your technique and increase production.
Therefore, the most basic vegetable garden size to start with should measure 10ft. by 10ft. That’s nearly the size of an average bedroom. Apart from making it easier to carry on with your chores, this average-sized vegetable garden is capable of producing enough produce for your family through summer.
For those who might find this size a little intimidating, feel free to go even smaller. If you’d like, consider starting a vegetable container garden and remember to tend to it regularly.
Pick the Right Vegetable Garden Location
Planning is the most fundamental part of gardening, and it’s directly proportional to your overall success. And picking the right location for your vegetable garden is the first step in this planning list, and needs a lot of serious considerations to be made.
We all know that plants need sunshine to make their food, right? Well, this little fact greatly influences your decision to determine the right location for your vegetable garden. On average, most vegetables require a minimum of 6 hours of direct sunlight for maximum productivity. With this in mind, I can’t stress enough how important it is for you to pick the sunniest spot in your compound.
If you’re picking a garden location during the spring, you must project both sun and shade behavior during winter and summer. This way you will be sure of getting maximum production throughout the year.
Another critical consideration before picking that sweet garden site is to look out for deciduous trees, common rookie mistakes that might drain your garden’s lifespan. A sunny winter spot under such trees quickly turns to shady-dark at the start of spring.
Other considerations include picking a place with well-drained soils, less strong winds, and less foot traffic. Constant disturbances will stress your veggies out and reduce their yield. Be mindful of all these things before picking that sweet spot for your vegetable garden.
Choose the Right Vegetables for the Garden
Now that you’ve already picked the right location for your vegetable garden, it’s time to get our hands dirty. Before jumping straight to planting, you’ll have to decide on the kind of vegetables that you’d like to grow in your garden.
To choose the right vegetables for your garden, you will have to keep several considerations in mind. Given the plethora of vegetable options available at your nearest garden center, you must begin by doing personal research first before making a choice. For instance, there are several types of tomatoes available, and not all of them are your best. Try out the different varieties and note the one that’s loved the most by your family. Spend time to know your kid’s preferences and focus more on growing those that they like the most.
Vegetable gardening promotes a continuous supply of fresh foods and it’s very tempting to keep on adding more plants. To help you choose the right veggies for your garden, you must determine and quantify vegetable consumption in your home. Knowing how much your family consumes enables you to balance their needs and rate of plant growth. In simple terms, this information enables you to choose and grow plants whose production rate matches the demand from your household. This tactic helps to prevent overplanting.
Balancing vegetable availability and gardening is also crucial in choosing the right plants for your garden. Keeping this tip in mind enables you to avoid planting readily available veggies and allows you to focus on growing those that might be rather hard to find. Besides, you can choose to grow superior versions of readily available vegetables.
The final consideration relates to the huge debate of seeds versus starter plants. Well, if you’re just starting, starter plants are the safest way to kick start your gardening project. Using seeds can sometimes be discouraging, especially when they fail to germinate.
Once you’ve known what your family loves to eat and figured out your consumption rate, consult to find out if they’ll perform well in your area. In case, you’ll be using seeds – you’ll need to make sure that they are of very high quality. Read the packaging and dig around for reviews, to know if it’s the right choice for your garden.
Prep the Garden Soil
Soil is extremely essential in a plant’s life. It forms the medium that provides plants with nutrients, minerals, water, and root support. Before you start planting, it’s important that you prep your soil first.
To test and fix your soil quickly, you might need to have a self-soil-testing kit. For those who might not have one, all you need to do is to soak some of the soil for 24 hours. Dig some of the soaked soil and squeeze it hard in your hand to test for drainage.
If water oozes out and the soil doesn’t form a ball, it would mean that your garden soil has poor drainage. To fix this, you can choose to either install raised plant beds or mix the soil with compost material (organic matter).
If the squeezed soil forms a ball and only crumbles when poked, then it is in great condition for gardening and you can proceed to set up sunken garden beds for planting.
How to Start a Contain Vegetable Garden
Container vegetable gardens are some of the most rapidly growing types of gardening in the world, especially among city dwellers. It’s a very convenient way to ensure you get healthy and fresh vegetables even with a small space.
If you’re wondering how you can start a container vegetable garden, consider the following tips and you’ll be ready to go.
- Choose what you would like to grow in your container vegetable garden
- Procure the container for this purpose – deep containers are great for leafy and fruity vegetables and shallow ones are best for growing herbs
- Fill the container with up to 5 inches of compost soil then plant your sprouts/seeds
- Find and place your container in a location with the most sunlight through the day
- Plan to water your container veggies regularly – always check the soil first before watering. To prevent overwatering, only water your veggies when the soil feels dry
- Use simple hand-held cultivators to remove weeds and aerate the top soil
- For constant supply keep at least 2 containers of the same vegetable and plan to replant/reseed after every 2 to 4 weeks
- Use a pair of scissors to harvest and only snip the leaves at the base of the stem
As you can see, starting a container vegetable garden isn’t very difficult. Just remember to keep your container gardens at an elevated surface away from the reach of most pets.
Vegetable Garden Ideas and Tips
Apart from the above, there are some tips and tricks that you can follow to make sure your vegetables grow at the rate you want them to and are not affected by external conditions.
Water your vegetables wisely
Most vegetables require an inch of water per week. Using an automatic water timer is the best way to ensure that all your plants are getting their weekly water requirement. If your budget can’t allow you to get one now, simply plan to irrigate your garden with either soaker hose pipes or drip lines. Once your watering system is ready to run, set it for slow irrigation to allow for maximum root absorption, soil hydration, and drier foliage (to avoid diseases and rotting).
Mulching generally improves the health of plants and it’s one of the best ways to increase your vegetable yield.
Apart from insulating your veggies and soil from harsh conditions, organic mulch prevents the growth of weeds, prevents moisture loss, and protects your plants from diseases. However, before you purchase any type of mulch from your local stores, remember to check for a seal from the Mulch and Soil Council . This non-profit organization regulates and only certifies safer mulch for sale.
Practice caution during pest control
Pests are generally a nuisance and we are always on the lookout for ways to destroy them. In gardening, it’s important to note that pests only form a tiny fraction of the insect species. That said, it would be detrimental if you rush to use synthetic products to kill the pests in your vegetable garden. Most of these insecticides are non-selective and using them often kills important pollinators as well as other beneficial insects .
Alternatively, use well-drained soils, high-quality seeds/seedlings, and unlimited exposure to sunlight.
Use more organic compost
Overfertilization deceptively makes your leafy vegetables lusher but in a real sense, it lowers fruition and overall yield. The excessive use of fertilizer also takes a toll on the health and quality of your garden soil, causing harm to your veggies.
Therefore, you must replace these fertilizers with compost and organic materials, which naturally enriches the soil and guarantees better yield. What’s more, you’ll get to enjoy tastier fruits and better veggies compared to using fertilizers.
How to Water Your Vegetable Garden
Water is a universal necessity for life to exist. Unless it rains daily in your area, you will need to plan on how to water your vegetable garden.
For increased efficiency, the automatic or timer-set watering systems are the best. For those working within a limited budget, hand watering will also get the job done as you exercise your arms. Many applaud hand-watering techniques claiming that it gives you the chance to inspect your garden for pests as you relax too. On the other hand, setting up a drip line also gives gardeners more convenience. Just ensure that the water delivery is slow for maximum root absorption.
Other than buying and using water hoses and nozzles, making a watering plan will ensure that your vegetables get their daily water requirement.
Gardening is a very rewarding and relaxing hobby that almost anyone can do. Starting a vegetable garden can be a little challenging, especially if it is your first time. Simply use the different tips and tricks highlighted above and you’ll be on your way to eating fresh, tastier, and juicy vegetables.