Gardening

10 Things You Need to Know Before Starting a New Vegetable Garden

  1. Light. Most vegetables, fruits, and herbs will grow best in full sunshine somewhere that receives at least 6 hours and preferably 8 hours of direct sunshine though, some shading is welcome in hotter climates; some cool-season crops, for example, spinach, cabbage, and radishes – can be grown in part shade. While there are plenty of flowers for both sunny and shady locations.
  1. You’ll need to tend your garden regularly. So, if possible, position it close to the house where you will see it that way, you won’t forget about it and can see what needs doing as it needs doing. Try to site it near a source of water too, or install water barrels, and other means of collecting water close by to make watering quick and easy. 
  1. Hydrate your soil with tender loving care. Nourish it with organic matter, including garden, compost, and manure. Manure must be rotted down for at least six months before applying it because fresh manure contains weed seeds which can harbor disease and may burn plants due to their very high nitro. Add organic matter whenever you can, and at least once a year; this is laid on the soil surface, as what’s known as a mulch. Over time, your soil structure will improve, becoming better draining and a healthier environment for roots. You can add organic fertilizers too, of course, but think of these as a short-term boost rather than building up long-term soil health like organic matter can. 
  1. As a new gardener, it’s easy to get carried away, but a little restraint is essential. Plant too soon and tender plants will likely be caught out by a sudden frost or will fail to thrive as they grow. In most areas, your last and first frost dates define your growing season. 
  1. Begin sowing outside only once your soil has warmed up and dried out enough to become workable. Seedbeds, that’s the area you sow into, should have a fine crumbly texture; sowing undercover into plug trays and pots is a great way to get a head start while temperatures outside are still too low. Transplants need planting holes bigger than the existing root ball. The soil then used to fill in the hole will be looser, making it easier for new roots to grow out into the surrounding soil and help plants establish quicker in their new home. 
  1. Most plants need an average of 1-2 inches ( 2-5cm ) of water a week. You’ll probably need to water more as it gets warmer, but this does depend on rainfall.  It’s better to water heavily once a week than a little every day; this forces roots to reach further down into the soil, to seek moisture, improving self-reliance Plants in containers can’t do this, of course, so water them more often. 
  1. Remove weeds as soon as you see them so they don’t have a chance to produce seeds and spread. Hoeing is quick and easy, and severed weeds may be left where they fall to wither in the sun. Keep the blade, edge, sharp and close to the surface to prevent damaging crop roots—hand weed where the hoe can’t reach. Mulching with organic matter is a great way to stop new weeds from popping up and improve your soil as it gradually rots down. 
  1. Someone must pick the vegetables regularly to keep the harvests coming. Beans, zucchini and tomatoes are just a few examples where picking will encourage even more pods and fruits to follow. Similarly, removing old blooms from flowers called ‘deadheading’ encourages more to follow, extending the display a little longer. 
  1. An end-of-season tidy-up is a great way to ensure a clean start the following year, but don’t get too carried away. Old seed, for example, coneflowers, and thistles will help feed birds over winter. At the same time, it’s necessary to leave ornamental grasses to add movement and structure to the garden and overwintering sites for beneficial bugs such as butterflies. Fallen leaves are a welcome resource for compost.
  1. Good gardeners make lots of mistakes, but they learn from them. By keeping track of when and what you grew and noting any pests, diseases, or failures, you can build up a personal record of what works best for you and your garden. Record when you planted, watered, and tended your crops to get to the bottom of problems and see how much you’ve harvested. 

These tips are only our recommendations based on our experiences, but it is more worthwhile if you yourself experienced it. The journey of raising a vegetable garden starts with discipline, and ends with a proud, fulfilling and bliss moment along with a handful of crops on your hands.

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