Vegetable gardening is a pastime that not only produces food to enjoy, but also provides a great way to express your creativity. Even people who have never grown a vegetable garden can make a few basic preparations and follow some simple guidelines that will lead to a fruitful growing season. If you are thinking about planting your first round of vegetables, here are some things to keep in mind.
One of the basics of vegetable gardening is that you need to identity the ideal spot for your garden. This may be a plot of ground that you have cleared of grass, or large pots that will reside on your patio or balcony. You want to choose a location that receives direct sunlight for a good portion of the day. Ideally, the plants should receive direct sunlight at least six hours per day.
Along with making sure the garden will receive ample sunlight, it is important to test the soil. If you are purchasing soil to go into pots, look for nutrient rich soil that is recommended for the types of vegetables you are including in your garden. For small tracts of land, obtain a few soil samples and forward them to a local university for testing. In many places, there may be a local government agency that oversees agriculture in your area; they can also analyze the soil and tell you what will grow well or what nutrients must be added before you begin to grow fresh vegetables.
Choosing the right fertilizers for your garden is also essential. Depending on what vegetables you are growing and the general condition of the soil, different types of fertilizers will be required. If you prefer to go the organic route, there are a number of excellent products of this type on the market today.
Drainage is also another important aspect of vegetable gardening. Puddles of water after a rain will not have a positive effect on the garden. Make sure there is some way to drain excess water off the surface of the soil; this is especially important in locations with heavy humidity as it can ruin the seedlings before they ever have a chance to mature.
Strategically laying out the garden is also key to successfully growing vegetables. Try to keep perennials along the perimeter of the garden. Also group the plants that produce early in the season in one section, as this will make it easier to till the ground and plant other vegetables once the crops are harvested. Don’t forget to purchase trellises and tomato cages for plants that tend to run and climb. Often, these do well in the center of the garden; not only does it give the garden a certain symmetrical look, but also low lying plants on each side will still receive direct sunlight for a good part of each day.
Protect your garden from pests. This means putting some sort of fencing around the perimeter of the garden to keep out small animals, house pets, and other threats that could trample young plants or chew them up before the plants can produce anything. Also find a good quality pesticide to use for the space. There are some brands on the market today that are more environmentally friendly, but will still prevent bugs and other pests from undermining your vegetable gardening efforts.
When it comes to vegetable gardening, less is often more. That is, keep the garden down to a size that you can manage with relative ease. You will be much more successful with a small garden you can hoe and maintain than one that is in constant threat of being consumed by weeds. Relax, have fun, and enjoy the fruits of your labors.