Simple Steps for Growing a Successful Vegetable Garden:
There are many good reasons to grow a vegetable garden, be it for your own health or for the environment, the most compelling one is that it will offer you the luxury of daily good eats. Gardening is part science and part art. The following guide contains a few simple rules that will help you grow a bountiful garden.
(1) Prepare your soil: Before planting a vegetable garden, you need to amend the soil so that it will have the structure and nutrients suitable for growing vegetables. The goal is to make your garden loose and fertile, this will provide the most favorable conditions for the vegetables to grow. Amend your soil by adding compost or other organic materials, mix them well with the soil. Apply an all-purpose fertilizer a few days before planting your garden. Soil improvement is a continuous process,
(2) Divide your garden into planting units: Divide your garden into small manageable planting units. 3 feet by 6 feet works well. Leave a 2 feet wide pathway between the planting units. This will allow you to manage your garden with ease. Group vegetables with similar needs in the same planting unit. You may be able to do some inter-planting for space saving and weeds control. Many times flowers can be incorporated in the garden unit as well. It can provide colors to your garden and attract pollinators as well.
(3)Proper Timing: Vegetables grow best under their optimum growing climate. Usually temperature is the most important factor. Peas, spinach, baby bok choy, spring radishes beets and lettuce are cold tolerant vegetables, they are the first ones can be planted out. Following that is the Cole crops, including cabbage, broccoli, kohlrabi and Chinese cabbage. The next group can be sown includes the heat loving vegetables, beans, cucumbers, zucchini. At about the same time, tomatoes, peppers and eggplants and other seedlings started earlier in the season can be transplanted into the garden. Each region has its own micro-climate, figure out what best suit your garden is the key to grow a successful vegetable garden. Use the “last frost date in spring” only as a reference. If you want to extend your gardening season by planting early or keep the vegetables in the ground beyond the season permits, protect the vegetables properly .
(4) Allow ample space for each plant to grow: The amount of space each type of vegetable needs is determined by the size of the plant, the extent of its root structure and its nutrient requirements. Thinning is necessary to produce high quality vegetables. Think “less is more”. Over crowding will result in inferior vegetables and may reduce yield.
(5) Grow your garden vertically: Trellis vine plants will allow efficient use of garden space. It will also yield higher quality vegetables and make harvesting easier. Construct trellis with 20-feet long re-bars. Bend the re-bars into a “U” shape with the dimensions 7'-6'-7'. Place the bent re-bar in the soil 10 inch deep. Run a heavy horizontal string 6 inch above ground, then vertical strings up and down to cover the entire length of the re-bar. The re-bars can support a variety of crops such as peas, pole beans, cucumbers and melons etc..
(6) Keep your garden clean and the weeds under control: Remove thick leaves on the bottom of the plants as the season progresses. This will allow airflow and reduce the occurrence of pest and disease. Keep a watchful eye on pest and disease; take measures when the first signs of problem appear. If you choose to use pesticides, follow the labels carefully. Remove weeds when they are small and easy to get rid of. Apply mulch around the base of the plants, cardboard, paper and straw all work well. This will discourage weed growth. Regardless of what you do, you will always have weeds in the garden, the goal is to keep it in a manageable manner and make sure they do not compete for nutrients with the vegetables.
(7) Water and Fertilize as the vegetables grow: Watering is important. Different vegetables prefer different watering techniques. Fast growing greens like lettuce, baby bok choys need frequent watering; vegetables require longer time to mature usually benefit from infrequent, thorough watering rather than daily shallow watering. Apply fertilizer as the plants grow. Nitrogen (N) is for leafy growth, phosphate (P) is for strong stem growth, and potassium (K) is for improving quality of the fruit. Monitor the needs of vegetables by observing their performances, and see if they are in distress. For vegetables take long time to mature apply a slow release fertilizer (14-14-14) when transplant, to ensure the vegetables have enough energy to grow and produce fruit.
(8) Harvest your vegetables in time: Harvest vegetables at the proper stage of maturity will give you the best tasting vegetables. Store your vegetables properly if not used immediately. For more information on how to prepare and preserve vegetables, please visit our website at www.newdimensionseed.com.
(9) Extend your garden season: Plant succession crops when appropriate. Many vegetables mature quickly and should be planted in succession. Baby bok choys, radishes and lettuce are good candidates for successive planting. In many areas, planting a fall garden can extend the garden season even longer.Many vegetables can be planted for fall harvesting. Get your fall vegetable seedlings started ahead of time and timely removal of the spent spring crops is the key to have a successful fall garden. For more information on fall gardening referring to the Fall Garden Guide.
(10) Raised Beds Gardening: Raised beds need some initial investment, however they offer many advantages. It allows you to build the soil from the start with the right soil structure and drainage . It offers easy access, making it easy to plant and weed. Since it is above ground it allows the soil warm up faster than planting on the ground. Also it makes pest control easier.