Everyone that wants to become a little more self-sufficient always considers gardening. Not everyone is born with a green thumb, and even those raised in a gardening household may find it’s more challenging than they expected. There are a few things to consider when planning your first vegetable garden.
Location Location Location
Location doesn’t just apply to the real estate market. Location plays an important part on how well your own garden will do. Start small so you don’t get overwhelmed with managing the space. When choosing your spot you’ll need to think about the kinds of vegetables you’ll want to plant. Check the sun requirements of each. Some vegetables like full sun while others can do well in partial shade.
Start with an easy to grow plants first, such as prepotted tomato plants or squashes.
You also need to take into consideration the soil you have available. When many ‘new’ homes are built the builder often scrapes off the topsoil for use (or sale) elsewhere leaving the lot scraped down to poor soil and often times right on clay. If you’re in an older location you may not have this issue as the practice of scraping topsoil is more modern, plus given time, an older plot will at least have some natural compost from nature. Leaves and grass clippings rot on the ground and create topsoil.
Check your dirt. If it’s poor consider either buying a topsoil and/or compost by the bag or truckload.
Don’t Try to Grow Everything
Many people garden in big long rows and that method works for many people, however, if you’ve never gardened before you might want to consider growing in raised beds, square foot gardening or other small garden methodology.
Some plants, such as cucumbers, squashes, and melons need lots of space to grow while taller plants like corn will grow vertically and can be placed closer together. Most any vining plant, whether it’s a cuke or pole beans can be grown on a trellis giving you more ground space for the sprawlers and bush type varieties.
Don’t try to plant too close together as plants need room to grow, to receive sunlight and nutrients from the ground. Check the growing suggestions on the seed packet or pot before planting. Plants that are too close together won’t give you the best yields.
If you’ve left tomatoes or squashes (or any other vegetable) on the plant too long and it’s started to rot you’ll find that it’s best to remove the produce and add it to your compost pile. Rotting vegetables attract pests that will dine on the rotting matter as well as your still growing veggies.
Water on a consistent basis according to what you’ve planted. A good way to determine watering needs is to stick your finger into the soil near the base of the plant. If the ground is dry an inch or so below then it’s time to water. Sandy soils naturally drain water faster than other soils and will need more frequent watering. Soils with a lot of clay or sitting on top of clay will need less water.
Gardening isn’t hard but it is a learned skill. Every year that you garden you’ll find it becomes a bit easier, less work and more rewarding but you can’t have a garden if you don’t start. Make this the year you plant your first garden.