Gardening is an incredibly rewarding hobby. There’s absolutely nothing quite like fresh-picked veggies, and the reward is even greater if you have grown them yourself. Garden-fresh vegetables provide you with seasons full of succulent, juicy flavors, and vibrant textures. Here are some tips to help you plan, plant, and grow the highest yielding and tastiest vegetable garden crops ever.
Where Should I Start?
One of the very first things to consider is where should you install your garden? Most vegetables grow best in full sun, so watch closely throughout the day and make a note of the sunniest location to set up your garden.
Next, what are you going to grow? There are so many vegetables and varieties from which to choose, and the process of selecting can be exciting and overwhelming at the same time. You can choose between planting seeds, selecting plants from a nursery, or a mix of both. There is nothing wrong with trying something new to plant but as a starting point, it is essential to gear your focus to what your family eats, wants to eat, or what you might be able to preserve. There is no use in dedicating so much time and energy into a garden that results in food waste.
When it comes to crop placement, your garden will benefit from year to year by crop rotation. For example, if you have your tomatoes in one bed this year, you should rotate them to another bed the following year so that your soil doesn’t get nutrient depleted.
You have choices when it comes to the best way plant to get a great garden. Traditional backyard-gardens, raised beds, and containers all provide great ways to have a successful garden. Choose one or combine them all. That’s the beauty of gardening; you have options to create, change, add or remove features depending on your preference.
A backyard garden is easy to get started. All that you have to do it dig up or till a patch of land and amend the soil, and you can get started fairly quickly with planting. You are likely to battle more grasses and weeds this way, but it is a fantastic way to dive right in and not allow obstacles to get in your way.
There are many benefits to having raised beds. Creating them requires much more planning than a traditional backyard garden. You have to buy the wood and other materials, assemble them, and fill them with soil. If you have the extra money and time and want to get the raised beds up and running in time for planting, then that’s a great option for you. Raised beds are an excellent long-term investment and provide some ease in caring for your garden. There isn’t as much bending for gardeners, you will have less weeding to do, and the raised beds will keep the root systems warmer for better growth. Raised beds are also beneficial if your ground soil is mainly rocky and hard to till.
If you do not have a backyard or are unable to commit to the work that a traditional garden requires, you can always consider container gardening. Some plants even grow much better in containers. You can set pots up on a deck or patio and reap the same harvest just a few steps outside of your door.
Should I Plant Annuals or Perennials?
Annuals and perennials both have an important place in any garden. Having a variety of plant types adds long-lasting beauty and bloom times and provides essential habitats for many different pollinators. Perennial flowers continue to grow year after year and remain dormant throughout the winter, while annuals are planted in the spring and summer and bloom for just one season, providing gardens with endless color. No matter which kind you choose, remember that plants will do best if they are well-suited to your growing area. Read the backs of your plant tags and seed packets and choose plants accordingly.
Helpful Considerations for Growing Gardens
Soil and Nutrient Requirements
Healthy soil means healthy roots for your plants, so it’s best to put the time in to amend the soil in your garden before planting. The more organic matter, the better is the general rule for gardens. Use a mix of sand, peat moss, and manure compost to create an ideal growing environment.
If you haven’t started a compost pile in the yard, there is no better time to start than now. Compost is the best and most cost-efficient way to get nutrient-rich soil directly to your garden. Kitchen scraps, yard waste, and leaves can all be dumped into the pile and turned once a year, yielding nutrient-rich black dirt.
Take care of your soil in the off-season by spreading compost across your garden late in the Fall after all the harvesting is complete. Then, cover the ground with a winter mulch like chopped leaves or hay. By spring’s planting season, any melting snow and soil organisms will have worked the compost into your garden for you, saving you from arduous work. It is also a great idea to leave the stalks of the plants that have faded in the garden through the winter. The nutrients stored within the plant will gradually return to the roots of the plant, restoring much-needed nutrients into the soil.
You already know that most vegetable gardens require large amounts of sun. Pay attention to your sunlight in your planting as well. If you are going to be planting very tall crops in your garden, you want to make sure not to plant them on the south side of your garden. Plant tall crops on the Eastern portion of the garden bed and set lower-growing plants on the south side so that one doesn’t cast a shadow on the other.
Watering and Feeding
Earthworms love organic matter, so it is important to amend your soil with natural and organic fertilizers and soil amendments. Earthworms are highly beneficial to vegetable gardens, naturally aerating the soil and leaving behind nutrient-rich worm castings.
Water your garden early in the day. The water will absorb into the soil more efficiently rather than evaporating away. Early watering allows leaves to dry thoroughly throughout the day, which helps to avoid powdery mildew and other fungal diseases that spread quickly amid high moisture and humidity levels.
Water your garden daily for young gardens and every other day as plants mature. If it is particularly dry and hot, adjust to your garden’s needs with more water.
Healthy soil yields healthy plants that are better able to resist pests and disease, reducing the need for harmful pesticides. Insects tend to avoid plants such as onions garlic, chives, marigolds, and chrysanthemums. So consider mixing your plantings with plants like these around the garden to help repel insects. Some gardeners have had great luck using cayenne pepper as a pest repellent. Sprinkle on the leaves and around the plant to deter unwanted pests from munching on your leaves.
You are not the only one who can’t wait to dive into those delicious veggies. There is also a lot of wildlife that will be attracted to the fruits of your labor and will greedily munch your whole garden to the ground. For this reason, you may also want to consider installing a secure garden fence to keep hungry animals from feasting on your crops.
Caring for your garden is extremely important. A common mistake new gardeners make is not tending to the weeds in their garden. It is essential to pull the little weeds that sprout up in your garden beds regularly. You can help control weeds by spreading woodchips on your garden and the soil around your plants. Wood chip mulch helps the soil retain moisture and prevents weed growth. Water is critical for young gardens and the developing root systems and seeds that need a regular water supply.
Avoid planting too early in zones where there is a risk of frost. If the weather forecast calls for a frost warning, cover your plants with a sheet, or you can cut milk jugs in half and place over the top of the younger, more vulnerable plants.
Lastly, pick regularly for a plentiful harvest that will keep giving all season long.