Starting Your First Vegetable Garden

To start, you will need the proper tools to complete your project. For building a garden bed, you will need a digging spade and probably a digging fork (or spading fork). D-handled tools are best for this. If the cutting edge of the spade is blunt and burred, sharpen it. Also, smaller tools will be needed for the actual planting, weeding and upkeep.

Start with a garden bed. Try not to over do it and go big, smaller is always wiser when it comes to beginning any project. A good size for a beginner would be approximately 6 ft X 10 ft. If you plan to plant pumpkins, squash or zucchini, be prepared to go much bigger. These vegetables tend to need a lot of room, and often will spread out into the rest of you vegetables. Because of this, either start a bed specifically for these, or do not attempt at all if you have only a smaller garden. A raised bed can be advantageous to both you and the garden. It will allow the garden more warmth in the spring as well as keeping weeds at bay. It is best to create a framing for the bed; it will allow you to stand outside your garden without upsetting the plants and their root systems. Your garden should be able to get up to 6 hours of sunlight a day, so plan your location appropriately. If you do not have a yard big enough, container vegetable gardens are an option. Many plants including lettuce, tomatoes and peppers are just as good and hearty if planted in a large enough vessels. There should be at least 1-2 feet of soil to properly handle the root system.

Back to the garden, always fill the top 4-6 inches with a mixture of top soil and compost or fertilizer. Let it sit for 4 or 5 days before planting to ensure a healthy mixture. This will create a soil rich in nutrients for your garden.

When your garden is ready for planting, you will need to add your plant choices. As this article is for beginners, I am not going to discuss seeding methods. The following instructions are for warm season vegetables. For example: tomatoes, squashes and peppers. Keep in mind to grow only what your family will eat. Wasteful gardens tend to lead to a slacker approach to your gardens maintenance. To reap the rewards of winter planting, it is best to plant in August. However, nurseries don’t seem to carry vegetables at that time of year, so it would be best to purchase earlier in the summer and keep through to the fall. Plant your vegetables with enough space between each other for best results. Root systems tend to strangle each other when planted to close. Also, spacing allows you to weed, water and tend to your garden without interfering with its growth. Plants always need more space than you might think, so always read the planting and spacing directions that come with each plant. Tip: tomato plants should be planted with half of their greenery underground to yield best results. Also, if you want a rewarding, productive garden, do some research to find out what grows well in your area. Liquid seaweed emulsion is one of the best sources of micro nutrients and a real soil and plant health booster. Use some in the watering can every two weeks. Remember to spray transplants with seaweed emulsion before you replant them, especially bare-root transplants. This will give your plant a good start to the growing season.

Weeds are the scourge of all gardens, so weeding is very important. Weeds rob moisture from your vegetables, and block sunlight. Always be sure to destroy all weed roots, they are insidious and will return. Do not walk on new garden beds. The soil will get compacted, lead to weed germination, and destroy the soil’s texture. Use boards if you need to walk through the planting bed. Another good tip is to place mulch between rows. Straw, grass clippings and tree leaves and needles are great at benefiting the soil when they break down. It also helps with moisture and temperature, it’s best to mulch when the soil is moist, and watering is best done early morning before the days heat sets in.

With these few tips, you can begin growing a vegetable garden of your own. It isn’t too difficult as you can see, and you’ll find it a rewarding experience to see something which you have planted from a small sprig, grow into tasty, hearty vegetables which will eventually end up on your plate. Delicious.

Courtesy of Landscape Construction Experts – Alan T White Master Landscapers based in Vancouver BC, Serving Major Landscape Construction Projects worldwide. Also providing Award Winning Landscape Designs

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