Growing edibles is one of the hottest gardening trends for 2015, but it is slowly becoming a necessity. Vegetable gardens are the easiest and cheapest way to healthy, safe veggies. You have probably thought about starting your own vegetable garden and we encourage you to go through with it. It is such a rewarding job as you will enjoy your first harvest in a very short time. Of course, there are things to know before starting or even planning your vegetable garden, tips that will help you throughout the whole process.
This is why we decided to cover the basics of creating a successful vegetable garden. These guide stresses the most important aspects of edible gardening like choosing the right vegetables, planing and designing the layout of your garden, soil preparation, planting and harvesting. We hope you will find our tips useful and you will manage to grow your own healthy and safe edibles.
Don’t worry about not having enough space as you can have a vegetable garden even on your deck or balcony. Let us show you how easy it can be…
1. Choosing Which Edible to Grow
If you are a beginner in vegetable gardening it is best to choose edibles that are easy to grow. Some of the best choices are lettuce, tomato, sugar snap peas, beans, radish, summer squash, rhubarb, chives, basil, thyme etc. But, we advice you to start small. This means planting just as much as you need. You don’t want to end up wasting food and feeling overwhelmed by your garden. Think about what your family eats. Also, have in mind that some veggies keep providing throughout the whole season while others produce only once. Planning is the key for a successful vegetable garden.
2. Use Your Space Efficiently
Ok, so you have chosen what to plant, but now it is time to determine how much space you need and of course, to choose the perfect location for your vegetable garden. It should have enough sunlight, to be near a water source and to be protected from wind and frost. When you have chosen the perfect location you should decide how to make the most of the space you have. Again, go small, you don’t need much space to begin with. In fact, you can successfully grow edibles in containers on your deck or balcony so obviously you don’t need too much space. If you tend your garden well it will produce more than a much bigger weed filled garden. It is simple – large garden requires much more time to be maintained. If you are an experienced gardener and have enough time to take care of a large garden we encourage you to go for it. But if you are too busy to spend a lot of time in your garden or are a beginner we recommend smaller edible garden or even raised beds as a much better choice.
3. Design and Layout
There are two ways to plant the layout of your garden. The first is traditional row planting. It is the most common vegetable garden layout – you simply place plants single file in rows, with a walking path between each row. Although row cropping sounds logical and easy this approach is suitable for large vegetable gardens only. And with the fact that we are having less and less garden space a different approach is more suitable. Intensive cropping reduces the space needed for a vegetable garden. It involves using wide bands. By dividing the garden into small beds will allow you to mix different kinds of vegetables even if your garden is small. Both raised beds or open beds you will actually be able to downsize the garden. There are many reasons for choosing an intensive garden system over rows like less effort, less soil complication etc.
photo via howgarden.com
4. Move The Crops
We recommend using the three-year crop rotation system which means planting the same crop in the same place only once every three years. This way you ensure that the same garden vegetables will not deplete the same nutrients year after year and will also help foil any insect pests or disease pathogens that might be lurking in the soil after the crop is harvested. To implement this system you will need to make a paper plan during each growing season, showing the location of all plants which you will save so you could know exactly what you were growing where for the last seasons.
5. Prepare the Soil
If your garden hasn’t been planted before your vegetables will do great the first year, but in the next one you will have to prepare the soil for good results. Simply add some good organic matter to the soil. It is always best to test the soil prior planting your edibles. Determine the pH of the soil by using a soil test kit. Acidic soils, or soils with low pH can be sweetened by adding lime while alkaline soils with high pH need gardener’s sulphur and rich organic matter and should be mulched with acidic materials such as pine needles and forest duff. Don’t forget to check soil drainage as well. You can do this by soaking the soil with a hose, waiting a day, then digging up a handful of soil. Squeeze the soil hard. If water streams out, you’ll probably want to add compost or organic matter to improve the drainage.