Veggie Gardening For BeginnersAug 12th, 2012 | By admin | Category: Container Gardening Articles
Eating plenty of fresh vegetables from a home garden is not only healthy, but it’s tastier than eating store-bought produce. The vegetables you buy at the supermarket are often picked prior to ripening and languish in refrigerated storage for several days or even a couple of weeks before arriving at the store. For a fresher option, use these tips to start your own veggie garden.
1. Determine your climate zone. The USDA has divided the United States into eleven different hardiness zones, and knowing where your location falls can help you decide what to grow and when to plant it. You can find this information on numerous gardening sites online by putting in your zip code. When you purchase seeds or seedlings, look on the container or packet for zone information, too. You can also ask a garden center employee for help; they can give you growing advice regarding your specific region.
2. Choose the types of veggies you want to grow. If you’ve never grown your own vegetables before, you may want to start with just a couple plants of each variety you choose. Tomatoes, zucchini, green beans, peppers, lettuce, herbs and squash are all relatively easy to grow. Cauliflower, carrots, celery, eggplant and head lettuce are veggies that require much more care and maintenance, so you probably ought to avoid those in your first couple of years as a home gardener.
3. Examine and prepare your soil. Once you’ve chosen your garden plot, turn over some dirt and pick up a few handfuls of the soil you’ve loosened. Is it hard and compact? You probably have clay. Is it loose and gritty? You have sandy soil. Ideally, you want loose, rich dirt that clumps when you pick up a handful but that crumbles somewhat when you poke the clump. You can achieve this balance by adding organic matter to the soil, such as compost or manure. This improves the texture of the dirt while adding nutrients. You can cultivate the ground with nothing more than a spade or shovel, but a tiller can be helpful for large plots.
4. Use mulch to keep weeds at bay. Once your plants grow into seedlings (or you transplant those you’ve purchased), you can place mulch around your plants to keep weeds from hoarding the water and nutrients in the soil around them. Wet newspapers, compost, straw, lawn clippings and other mulches are great for preventing weeds and keeping the soil moist.
5. Start some compost. Compost is an excellent soil additive, and it’s great for mulching. To start compost, either set up a compost bin or purchase a ready-made composting barrel. Add organic matter such as lawn clippings, leaves, fruit and vegetable peels and eggshells to the compost bin, mixing it occasionally. You will be rewarded with a nutrient-rich, soil-like mixture that will help your plants grow stronger; depending on how careful you are with the waste you put in the bin, compost can also be completely organic.
Growing vegetables in your backyard is not difficult, but it does require some preparation and know-how. By implementing these tips into your gardening journey, you can harvest and eat your own tasty veggies throughout the summer.