Vegetable Gardening Tips and Tricks

For those who are new to gardening, believe it or not, it’s not impossible to grow your own vegetable garden. All that’s required is some patience and smart tactics to get the most out of your garden space. Follow these tips and tricks to plan the vegetable gardening of your dreams.

  1. Develop a practical plan: The first step to growing a healthy garden is marking off exactly where you want the beds to go. Consider the size, shape, and location of your garden to figure out the best set-up for you. Keep in mind that it can always be changed over time if necessary.
  2. Let there be plenty of sunlight : Most vegetables need sun. Ideally, your vegetable garden should be a place which gets  at least 8 hours of direct sun per day. However, in less light too you can  grow some edibles; mainly leafy crops and herbs.
  3. Soil is super important: Healthy, rich soil is the key to a successful and productive vegetable garden. A soil test will give you an idea of your existing soil fertility and pH, and offer suggestions of what types of fertilizers or amendments are needed. Homemade compost, organic well-composted animal manures, and organic fertilizers are some suggestions for a rich soil.
  4. Keep it small : A vegetable garden can be low-maintenance, but it’s not no-maintenance. It’s better to start small and stick to a small plot for the first year or two. A 4 by 8 foot bed is ideal for a starter veggie garden and will give you enough space to grow a handful of crops. If you wish to start even smaller, try planting container-friendly veggies and herbs in pots or window-boxes on a sunny part of your terrace or roof-top.
  5. Plant in raised beds with rich soil: A deep, organically rich soil encourages the growth of healthy, extensive roots able to reach more nutrients and water. The result: extra-lush, extra-productive growth above ground. The fastest way to get that deep layer of fertile soil is to make raised beds. Raised beds yield up to four times more than the same amount of space planted in rows. That’s due not only to their loose, fertile soil but also to efficient spacing. By using less space for paths, you have more room to grow plants.
  6. Try climbing plants to make the most of space: No matter how small your garden, you can grow more by going vertical. Grow space-hungry vining crops—such as tomatoes, beans, peas, melons, and so on. Growing vegetables vertically also saves time. Harvest and maintenance go faster because you can see exactly where the fruits are. Fungal diseases are also less likely to affect upward-bound plants s thanks to the improved air circulation around the foliage. Try growing vining crops on trellises along one side of raised beds, using sturdy end posts with nylon mesh netting or string in between to provide a climbing surface. Tie the growing vines to the trellis. But don’t worry about securing heavy fruits. Even squash and melons will develop thicker stems for support.
  1. Choose the right pairings: It is a well-known fact that some plants can grow together and benefit each other too. Compatible combinations include tomatoes, basil, and onions; leaf lettuce and peas ; carrots, onions, and radishes; and beets and celery; brinjal with beans, capsicum, potato, spinach.
  2. Do Succession planting: With your first veggie garden, it’s very tempting to want to grow everything. But, for your own sake, pick 4 to 5 types of vegetables and grow them well. Trying to cram too much in a compact space is asking for trouble and you’ll end up with a smaller, not larger harvest. Succession planting allows you to grow more than one crop in a given space over the course of a growing season. That way, many gardeners can harvest three or even four crops from a single area. For instance, follow an early crop of leaf lettuce with a fast-maturing corn, and then grow more greens or overwintered garlic — all within a single growing season. To get the most from your succession plantings:
  3. Use transplants rather than seeds: A transplant is already a month or so old when you plant it, and matures that much faster than a seed sown directly in the garden. Replenish the soil with a ¼-to-½-inch layer of compost (about 2 cubic feet per 100 square feet) each time you replant. Work it into the top few inches of soil.
  4. Bring on the blooms : Most bugs, bees, butterflies, tachinid flies, ladybugs and more are your friends.To attract these good guys to your garden – and boost crop pollination – include clumps of insect-friendly plants like sweet alyssum, zinnias, cosmos, and sunflowers between the vegetables and herbs.
  5. Water, weed & feed : Newly seeded beds will need frequent watering, but most established crops can get by on one to two inches of water per week. To conserve water and reduce the need to irrigate, mulch your soil with several inches of straw or shredded leaves. Side benefit of this is that the mulch will also suppress weeds. As for feeding, quick growing crops like radishes and lettuce won’t need supplemental fertilizers if grown in in fertile soil. Long-term veggies like tomatoes, winter squash, and eggplants, however, will appreciate a boost several times over the growing season. Give them an occasional dose of a water soluble organic food to support growth and encourage a good harvest.