5 Steps to Starting a Vegetable Garden
Growing a small selection of your favorite vegetables at home is easy and fun! There is nothing like the taste of a freshly picked cucumber or tomato right off the vine.
Most produce available in the grocery store today has traveled thousands of miles to get there, and could have been grown in nutrient poor soil with loads of pesticides. Why not enjoy organic, pesticide-free produce from your own backyard? A little bit of preparation and maintenance through the growing season and you will never look back.
Here’s 5 tips to get your vegetable garden started:
1. Pick Your Location
Growing vegetables and herbs starts with choosing the sunniest and warmest spot in your yard. Your plants will need as much sunlight as possible to maximize their growth, and should ideally be sheltered from any strong winds. Take note of which areas in your yard meet these conditions, even if it means combining your veggies in with your regular bedding plants (can you say victory garden!) A good spot is often right up against the house where the wall behind will help radiate heat and provide shelter from the wind.
2. Prepare The Soil
If you are planting your veggies in the ground, you’ll want to amend the soil with some organic compost. But by far the quickest way to perfect soil is to use raised beds or containers filled with an equal mix of topsoil, peat moss, vermiculite and organic compost. The loose, fertile soil will encourage strong rooting and more access to fertilizer and water, making for healthier, more luscious plants.
3. Choose your plants
Select a variety of your favorite vegetables and herbs and space them part according to the directions on the tag. There’s no rules – just follow your taste-buds. To allow for more space in your garden, think vertically. Cucumbers and squashes can be grown up a trellis or netting and a bushier plant could be grown underneath. Make sure to provide support for tall growing plants like tomatoes, with a cage or netting.
4. Feed and Water
Water, water, water and more water. I find that the vegetable garden needs a good soak every day or two, unless it rains. Vegetables and herbs are not particularly forgiving when it comes to drought, especially once they’ve started fruiting. Be sure to keep an eye on those plants and keep them well hydrated. If you are using containers or raised gardens, you’ll also want to add some fertilizer to the soil periodically. We recommend the all natural, soybean-based Natures Source plant food. We use it on the plants at Brantim and we have it available for sale at the greenhouse. It won’t burn the plants and it’s a natural alternative to chemical fertilizers.
5. Discourage Pests
It’s a never ending battle to keep the pests from eating your delicious vegetables! Last year was particularly bad for earwigs, who infested my swiss chard before I had a chance to try it. You can try situating a shallow dish with soapy water or beer near the base of your plants to lure and then drown the pesky victims. Or try planting an attractive annual like marigolds to distract them away from the vegetables. And don’t forget to harvest your vegetables as soon as they are ready to eat, there’s nothing more attractive to a pest than a rotten tomato.
Do you have any tips and tricks for vegetable gardening? What are your favorite veggies? Let us know in the comments below.