Whether you have a small container garden or a couple big 4×4 plots, you can keep your family stocked up on fresh vegetables with a little planning and good maintenance. Here are 10 Tips for Growing Vegetables that will help you successfully grow and enjoy your own produce.
10 Tips for Growing Vegetables
1. Plant for Your Zone- It is terribly frustrating to go to all the trouble of planting, watering, weeding, and waiting for plants that will never flourish in your zone no matter how much care you give them. Save yourself the work and disappointment by checking out the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map for every crop you plan to grow. Plants that are native to your region are the easiest to grow and will produce the most successful crops.
2. Plan on Paper- Whether you are planting a nice plot or just in containers, plan out what you will plant and where it will go before you begin. A really great idea is to start a gardening journal. Sketch or write out your layout and then use the rest of the notebook to track growth and which crops are successful and which are not. You can also store seed envelopes or plant tags for reference in your journal.
3. Prep Your Soil- The easiest way to do this is to make or buy a raised bed and fill it with good quality organic soil with a little peat moss mixed in. If you want to plant directly into the ground you will want to overturn the earth then remove rocks, weeds, roots, and other debris. Then, mix in store soil or homemade compost.
4. Go Vertical- Save on garden space by installing trellises or cages for height-loving veggies to work their way up. Tomatoes, beans, and cucumbers really love supports for growing tall. It also looks really good in your garden to have some contrasting heights.
5. Water- New plants especially need a lot of water to help them get established and flourish. A good early morning soak before the sun is high is great for your garden. Vegetables in containers will need to be watered more often as they tend to dry out.
6. Go Easy on Fertilizer- While fertilizing can be very beneficial to growing vegetables, it can also burn the roots and undermine your efforts. Have your soil tested at your local cooperative extension office and find out exactly what your soil needs. Treat that specific need be it a high ph or a lack of nutrients.
7. Control Pests Naturally– One of the benefits of growing your own food is that you know it is free of harmful chemicals. Instead of store bought pesticides make your own pest spray using essential oils and other natural ingredients.
8. Compost- Composting has a multitude of benefits but I am going to stick the ones that pertain to gardening. Starting a compost jar on your counter and a bin outside will reduce the amount of trash you have to dispose of and it creates an amazing organic soil for your garden.
9. Start with Easy to Grow Plants- Check your zone to be sure your plants have a chance. There are several vegetables that can be grown just about everywhere and with fantastic results for beginning gardeners like potatoes, chives, herbs, beans, tomatoes, and peppers.
10. Be Consistent- Just like children need consistency and order to thrive so do vegetable gardens. It won't fare very well if you allow it to dry out for days and then over water. Water, fertilizers, and weeding all must be done on a consistent basis.