Contributed by Cindi Pearce, Catalogs.com Top 10 Guru
There is no time better than the present to delve into vegetable gardening because many people are probably having a hard time paying for their groceries in this gloomy financial climate.
Growing your own food is a great way to save money AND eat good food. You kill two birds with one stone.
Here are the top 10 pointers on how to vegetable garden:
10. Keep it manageable
If you are a novice vegetable gardener, don’t get carried away and stake out an area as big as a football field. The experts tell you to start small. If you get overly ambitious you may not be able to control your garden, and you don’t want to deal with a garden gone wild, but it happens.
Vegetable gardening often requires trial and error. You may discover after the first year that corn does not grow well in your garden or beans do exceptionally well. You will learn from experience which vegetables are productive in your particular garden and, which aren’t. Do some research before planting your vegetable seeds and find out what grows well in your neck of the woods.
8. Try potage gardening
Consider using the potage style of gardening that combines flowers and vegetables and herbs in a decorative fashion. The result is a functional as well as aesthetically pleasing garden. A potage garden combines beauty with function. Pick your plants based on their looks and those that are edible and then combine them so that they look pretty. Some potage gardeners pick a design that is symmetrical or they repeat a certain pattern throughout the garden.
7. Learn how to can
Hopefully you LOVE vegetables because if—or should we say ‘when’— you are successful you are going to have a bounty of goods, probably all at once. Eat up or distribute the fruits of your labor to family and friends. Donate to your local food pantry or senior citizens’ facility. Learn how to can the tomatoes you’ve grown and freeze excess vegetables so you can have the taste of summer in January.
6. Invest in quality tools
If you are truly serious about this endeavor, invest in some quality gardening tools. You’ll need them and you’ll be glad you have them. Gardening can be back-breaking work so any tool that makes the process easier (on your back) is well worth the investment.
5. Master timing
Like location, timing is everything. If you plant all of your vegetables at the same time they will all mature simultaneously and you are going to be haunted by zucchinis and tomatoes. And so will your neighbor and his neighbor who beg you to take them off of your hands. What you can do to avoid this is to plant short-season vegetables throughout the growing season so that you won’t be besieged all at once.
4. Water, water, water
You have to water your garden religiously unless, of course, there is enough natural water supply. You might want to use a soaker hose if you have a large garden. This method of watering your crops ensures that all the plants are watered evenly and their leaves don’t get wet.
3. Prepare the soil
Before you can even think about planting your vegetable garden you need to prepare the soil. Till it, clean out the rocks and weeds. Break up the soil because this will help with drainage. You may want to test your soil. You can get a kit at a garden store. This will tell you what the acid and alkalinity levels are. You may need a booster of some sort to the soil. Plan to compost your kitchen waste and garden clippings and use the product to enrich your garden.
2. Choose the best location
As they say, location is everything. Your vegetables need to be planted in a sunny location. If the plants don’t get enough sun they can’t thrive.
1. Plan ahead
Don’t go into this endeavor in a helter-skelter way because you will end up with a helter-skelter garden. During the winter months, flip through garden catalogs. Decide what you want to plant, based on what you like to eat and where you live (the zone). Figure out how large your garden needs to be. When the weather breaks, mark off the area that is to be tilled. Make a plan on paper detailing where each vegetable is to be planted and how many are to be planted. This is a fun thing to do in the dead of winter when you haven’t seen a blade of grass or a snippet of sunshine in weeks. It allows you to look forward to the spring and summer days that are just around the corner. Really, they are.