As people seek out ways to lead healthier, cheaper lifestyles, the idea to grow your own vegetables in the garden has gained plenty of traction. Those that choose to do so can focus on the vegetables they like the most and, with a little work, can set it up so that they never get caught short. The level of work that goes into the maintenance of such a garden does not need to be excessive, but there are steps that any vegetable garden owner should take to save their own time and ensure the best results.
1. Water by Hand
Not every plant in your garden requires the same amount of water, and while it may be tempting to turn on the hose and drench everything over the course of a couple of minutes, this is not the right approach for anyone seeking the best results. If you take the time to use a good old-fashioned watering can, you have full control over how much water each plant receives and how often. If you are new to vegetable gardens and are unsure of what constitutes the right amount of water, you can dig into the soil and test it with your finger. If it is already damp, the chances are that the plant does not require any further water.
2. Water According to Plant Needs
There is more to a watering schedule than ensuring that your plant receives enough. If possible, time it so that you do it early in the morning. This gives the plant time to absorb the water before it evaporates as the weather warms up throughout the day. It also gives any excess water time to disappear from leaves and other surfaces before they become appealing to fungi and other potential attackers at night.
3. Base Your Plant Choice on Location
We have been all about the quality of the vegetables so far, and we have to accept that some things are outside of our control. As an international site, we cannot predict what represents the best plants for your personal conditions, but you should take the time to decide on what stands the best chance of success based on temperatures, rainfall and the chance of frost. You can look online or, even better, speak to staff at local garden centres who are familiar with the same kind of conditions.
4. Mix Flowers with Your Vegetables
The most successful vegetable gardens do not rely on vegetables alone. Pollination is crucial for any such garden to succeed, so you need it to be attractive to bees. The vegetables alone are not a massive draw for these creatures, so you should allocate some space in the vegetable patch to the flowers that will attract the right kind of wildlife to enable your vegetable garden to flourish.
5. Vegetables Appreciate Fresh Food
If you are at a point where you seek tips online for your vegetable garden, you’ll already be well aware of the importance of soil and compost. As with human nutrition, fresher is better, and you might want to consider making your own compost. This can involve grass clippings if you want to stick to the outside world, but you can use any organic household waste too, such as potato peelings, eggshells and coffee grounds.
6. Use Organic Seeds and Plants
If you take the time to create a thriving vegetable garden, you want as much control as possible. One key factor is that you only plant organic items in the garden so as not to contaminate anything that is already there or might join at a later date. Most commercially bought plants are treated in some way, such as with pesticides, but you want to avoid these in favour of true organic varieties.
7. Stick to Heirloom Vegetable Varieties
Mass-market vegetable growers are particularly creative, and some diet staples have changed over the years as they are selectively bred to combat disease or last longer. Those factors matter when your produce is likely to sit on supermarket shelves for days on end, but when you grow your own, you will prefer the original types. Take the time to ensure you add heirloom vegetables to your garden for a better taste and more nutrition – two factors that are often compromised through that selective breeding.
8. Consider Companion Planting
While perhaps not immediately obvious, some plants grow better together than others. At the same time, some vegetables should not be grown in close proximity. Companion plants will work together to make the most of resources, battle diseases and keep pests away. Herbs have a part to play too – basil and chives work particularly well with tomatoes, while the latter is also an excellent companion to carrots to improve flavour.
9. Employ Crop Rotation Techniques
You might not have really considered crop rotation since you learned about it in school, but farmers use it to this day for good reason. If the same plants occupy the same positions in your garden year after year, they become a reliable target for pests and draw more of certain nutrients from the soil than others. Even if you go for the same vegetables year after year, altering their position in the garden in each season encourages some semblance of balance to the nature around them, which inherently leads to superior results.
10. Garden Upwards as well as Outwards
The common mental image of a vegetable garden is a patch of land set aside for vegetables. That makes sense, but if you want more space and better overall efficiency, you can consider vertical gardening. The technique makes use of cages and trellises to reduce the impact of floor space on how much you can grow. As well as more growth space, all vegetables may perform better regardless of their position as there is an inherent benefit in keeping leaves off the ground.