Everyone is passionate about something. While some can give anything in the world for their pets, you may be a diehard gardening enthusiast, which is obviously why you found this post. A lot of homeowners dream of planting a vegetable garden in their homes, but quite a few end up planting one. The reason why most people’s gardens start and end in their minds may be due to the level of knowledge and commitment needed to successful grow a vegetable garden. Planting a vegetable garden can be one of the most rewarding things in the world. As a matter of fact, there are indications that tending your own garden can help you manage stress and depression better.
There is a special feeling of fulfilment that comes from enjoying your own home grown vegetables from your garden. The texture and taste of your homegrown vegetables can never be matched by the quality of vegetables you get from the market. Tending a garden also come with a great deal of sense of responsibility and fulfilment. But you don’t just wake up and decide to grow your own garden without first trying to learn the dos and don’ts of gardening for first timers. If you follow the tips and guidelines in this post, you can be sure to get it right with your first garden from your very first attempt. Let’s see some steps you can take to help you plant your first garden.
Before you even decide where to plant your first vegetable garden, it is important you learn all there is to learn about vegetable gardening. Arming yourself with adequate information about vegetables and their requirements for survival will save you the stress of engaging in prolonged trials and errors. Not all vegetable species will survive in your yard owing to soil types and climatic conditions. Knowing which vegetables grow well together will also help you decide on what varieties of vegetables to plant in your first garden. You can easily find whatever information you need on gardening by typing in the relevant keywords on major search engines. You will find a wealth of information to guide you with a click of your mouse. There are also reliable gardening books and catalogs you can pick up from book stores and read up.
Start By Picking A Good Site
Your garden space does not necessarily need to be a very large space. If you decide to grow your vegetables in containers, there won’t even be any need for a yard. But to grow high quality vegetables, you will need these three critical elements:
- Water: You need to locate your garden close to a source of water for easy irrigation.
- Sunshine: You must choose a spot that receives about 6 hours of intense sunlight everyday.
- Good soil: Something between loose sand and rock-hard clay. But even if the soil in your home is hard, fixing it shouldn’t be that much of a task.
Understand the Importance and Roles of Sun and Shade
Everything that grow requires both shade and sunlight at different times. Sunlight is a very essential element during photosynthesis. It is important you know where sunlight falls while planning your first garden. The amount of sunlight entering your garden is one major deciding factor that will help you decide what plants to grow as some plants need lots of sunlight to grow while some only require only partial shade to thrive. To know the direction the sunlight comes from, you have to watch where the sun enters your home from as the sun rises in the morning. Since we all know the sun rises from the east, any direction you see the sun coming into your home from is the eastern side. The opposite side of wherever the sun rises from is the western side and will naturally be the hottest part of your yard.
Decide What to Grow in your First Vegetable Garden
Trying to grow a large variety of vegetables can be very tempting. One good way to easily decide on what best to grow is to make a comprehensive list of the types of vegetables you love eating, then bring the list down to the most productive crops that are easy to grow. Some common easily grown vegetables include peppers, tomatoes, snap peas, lettuces, summer squash, green onions, and green beans. If you can’t come up with a good list yourself, try get your hand on a garden catalog. The moment you find some vegetables that will do well in your garden considering the atmospheric conditions and all other factors, choose a few varieties you believe will do well and start with them.
Starting with 2-3 varieties of vegetables will ensure you won’t give up trying if one specie fails to do well. This first attempt will help you know what to grow and what not to grow. However, before you choose any specie of vegetables for your first garden, make sure you pay attention to the description. Some species yield very small plants that are great for small containers and gardens. Also, make sure you plant vegetables that are known to be resistant to diseases.
Lay Out Your Garden Plan
Laying out your garden adequately will involve two basic techniques. Let’s see the two basic approaches to laying out your garden.
1. Intensive Cropping
Intensive cropping means planting in very wide bands, generally 1-4 ft across. The length can be anything you choose. The intensive cropping approach minimises the pathway areas. With the intensive cropping technique, you have to care for your plants by hand due to the closer spacing.
2. Row Cropping
This approach involves planting your vegetables in one single line with a sizeable walking path in-between rows. Row cropping is most ideal for larger sized gardens, This style makes battling weeds with hoes and tilers a whole lot easier. The only downside is the fact that most parts of the land will be used as a footpath rather than for planting your vegetables. A 10 x 10 ft space is considered an ideal size for any first garden. You must first plan out your garden on a sheet of paper before ever putting your shovel down.
Ensure there is at least 18 inches space between beds or rows to make access easy. It is a good practice to ensure all taller vegetables are placed at the northern part of your new garden. Such tall plants can include big-sized tomato species and all plants that can thrive on a vertical pole such as pole beans and cucumbers. You leave out some areas at first to enable you plant a second set of vegetables later. Vegetables such as carrots, lettuces, radishes, green onions, and bush beans can be planted at different times during the season.
Dig Your Beds
You can either plant your vegetables on the ground or in raised beds. If you prefer the idea of planting in the ground, you will have to till the ground about 6-12 inches into the ground. If you can get your hand on large power tillers, they can help you grind the sod into the soil. Where there is no power tillers you can dig by hand. If you dig by hand, there will be need to remove the sod. You can make use of a very sharp, straight-edged shovel to help you pry up the sod. Once you remove the sod, start digging to loosen the soil and keep turning. You can work in small sessions and break up big clods as you progress.
Once you have succeeded in loosening the soil with your tiller or hand, the next thing should be to spread your compost or fertilizer and gently work them into the soil.
Choosing Your Seeds or Seedlings
You can grow some species of vegetables by putting their seeds into the soil. Two vegetables that require directed seedling are beans and carrots. All you need to do is place the seeds at the depth indicated on the label, water them thoroughly, and wait for your plants to start growing. In several cases, you will need to plant some extra seeds in preparation for the ones that won’t germinate. You can thin out the extras once the plants start growing.
Most vegetables can be planted as seeds indoors. If your home isn’t conducive for indoor planting, you can purchase any desired plant seedling from any garden center near you. What you gain from purchasing an already growing seedling is that your crop will be ready for harvest a couple of weeks earlier than would have been the case if you begin with seeds in the soil.
Feed your Plant and Give it Adequate Care
The fact that a number of vegetables thrive under good moisture does not mean you should drown them. It is important you know the right way to care for each plant. Rainfall takes care of most water needs of your garden, but where nature does not give her rains on time, an inch of water every week is enough. If you plant in raised beds, you need to water daily since raised beds drain way too fast.
The weeds in your garden will always compete with your plants for water and important nutrients, so keeping weed out will ensure your plants get adequate supply of water and nutrients without any need to compete with weed seedlings.
To increase the yield of your plants, make sure you fertilize them well. All your vegetables need to thrive is high quality compost. If you go for a packaged fertilizer for vegetables, make sure you follow the directions found on the container. Applying more than the recommended dose in a bid to increase yield can actually decrease your yield.
Adequate Pest Control
One problem most first time vegetable gardeners experience are related to pests and diseases. There are different steps you can follow to help you deal with pests and diseases in your garden effectively. Below are some of these steps:
1. Deter rabbits by fencing your garden. It is a good practice to bury the bottom of your vegetable garden fence some inches into the soil.
2. Water the soil and not the leaves. If you must water the leaves, make sure you do so to discourage fungal diseases. Once you find any sick plant, pull it out without any hesitation.
3. Grow Disease-Resistant varieties. You can learn about the most immune plant species and varieties from gardening websites and catalogs.
4. If you Find Any Large Insect, Pick it Up.
You may initially find this repulsive, but it is the best way to deal with infestation in your new vegetable garden.
The sole aim of planting a vegetable garden is to harvest your produce. You can harvest most vegetables at different stages. For instance, you can start harvesting your leaf lettuce at any stage. The more you pick most vegetable leaves, the more they produce more vegetables. You can harvest your cucumbers when they are just a few inches long or allow it to grow to its full size. The general rule when it comes to harvesting vegetables is: if the vegetable appears good to eat, it is probably good to eat. Since there is no such thing as the harmful effects of eating your vegetables in their early stages, you should start harvesting as soon as they start appealing to your eyes and taste buds. The more you move vegetables from the garden to your kitchen, the greater your yield.
As a rule of thumb, it is always a good thing to care for your first garden yourself. You must have heard the saying that if you want something done well, it is better you do it yourself. That doesn’t rule out the need to get everyone in your home involved in the planting and tending of your first vegetable garden so the work won’t overwhelm you. Simply let them know what plants require special care and what needs to be done when it is time for preparing the soil, planting the seeds, weeding and harvesting.