Vegetable Gardening for Beginners
If you are seeking some pointers for setting up a vegetable garden, here are some rudimentary things that you might want to consider. There are probably other questions that will pop up. This will get you started and you will most certainly learn as you go. I might add that one of the best things one can do for a child that he or she will carry with them for life is to teach them to grow. A neighbor did it for me starting when I was about 10 years old. I have had -at the very least, a tomato patch and a few flowers every year since. My father had a garden in later years but not when I was a child.
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So, let’s get into it, shall we?
What do I need for this garden?
When first getting set up to create your first garden, there are some things to consider, naturally, as there is with any worthwhile endeavor that is new to us.
You should get some basic tools -perhaps a small hand trowel, a garden spade, a small hoe, a watering can. You can add things as they become necessary.
You can rent a rototiller or hire someone to come in and turn over the soil. You can do it by hand, as I always did, as I only had a
small garden. Use a spade to cut the sod and a forked spade to dig down and turn over the soil. Turn it over many times to get it so it is nice and loose. Shake the excess soil from the sod clumps and discard the grass and root mass.
Add some cow manure, peat moss to help with moisture retention, and compost. In the autumn you will be piling your leaves on the garden and be plowing them under. Place all your grass clippings you can find on the garden, as well. Composting and soil preparation are two of the most important aspects of gardening. To get organic soil is to use all the substances listed above without the use of chemical fertilizers.
Often our native soils are not optimized -they are too sandy or heavy with clay. When you bring in the soil for the raised beds you will mix it with compost, peat, etc. to make a nice loam that will be more nutritious for the plants.
Raised Garden Beds or on the Ground?
You might want to consider using ‘raised beds.’ Just nail or screw together some 2×8″ lumber in a box formation and fill it up with good soil. No different than banging together a sandbox for the kids -except you want better soil. You can make the raised gardens a convenient dimension so any plant in the box can be reached without climbing onto it. To do so would compact the soil. You can make a few framed raised beds, as many as will fit into the available space.
It is noteworthy here to say, don’t dig up more of the yard than you can tend too. This is closely related to ‘Don’t bite off more than you can chew.’ It turns into a time consuming proposition with weeding watering, etc. Also, if you’re fortunate, you will have much bounty. More than you can give away, usually.
Some advantages of raised beds are: you will import the soil and you will not have to plow our till it every year. No compaction occurs because you won’t be walking in it.
The Garden Vegetable Plants
Go to your local nursery for some small vegetables for your garden. Seeds are less convenient but cheaper. Ask the staff at the nursery how large the plants get so you can give them ample separation. They need room to grow and won’t do well if crowded on top of each other. Some tall or bushy plants will block the light from the smaller ones.
Some plants, like tomatoes can be pruned to optimize fruit growth and available sunlight.
Watering the Garden is Paramount
Once the plants are in the ground, you must have an ample supply of water. The root system must be kept moist. A sprinkling can works well when the plants are small. A soaker hose works well after that. Keep the weeds pulled. They will quickly take over if given half a chance.
Gardening is a relaxing pastime for some people. Have fun with it. Don’t stress out. You will learn as you go and next year you may do something differently. You won’t be involved with vegetable gardening for beginners -next year you’ll be a sophomore.
On balance, it can be very rewarding and awe inspiring when you see what springs forth from the earth.
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