Growing your own vegetables is one of the most rewarding ways to save money, eat healthier and get more fresh air. The only thing standing between you and a bountiful harvest is the right equipment, seeds, and know-how.
Gardening with your kids can also be a great learning experience for children. It gives them the chance to see where their food comes from and have an understanding of what it takes to grow food. They can also enjoy eating food they have grown, which is an added bonus!
Here are some tips that will help you get started:
1) Know what you’re growing.
If you’re serious about starting a vegetable garden, research the plants you want to grow. Find out how long they take to grow and if they need full sun or partial shade. You also want to know what kind of soil they prefer, whether they’re susceptible to pests, and how much water they need.
Tips in selecting your vegetables.
Before you start planting, you’ll want to know the best times of year to plant various types of vegetables. The best time to plant your garden will depend on what type of vegetable you are planting. Some vegetables need a long growing season and others require short seasons.
Some vegetables have shorter growing seasons than others. Tomatoes, peppers and eggplants are ideal for short summers because they produce fruit quickly. Carrots, broccoli and squash grow slowly but still provide good yields if started early in the season.
The best time to start your vegetable garden depends on the specific vegetables you plan to grow and the weather conditions in your area. For example, if you live in an area with mild winters but long summers, it may be best to start your seedlings indoors during the winter months so that they can be transplanted into the ground once spring arrives.
2) Pick the right spot for your garden.
You’ll want a spot that gets at least six hours of sunlight per day but not too much wind or heavy rain (which can wash away nutrients). You may need more than one spot in your yard if some areas have less sunlight or more wind than others.
Determine your garden’s size.
How much space do you have? Is it sunny or shady? Is it near a fence or other structure that can be used for support? If not, what materials do you need to purchase (wood posts and wire fencing), and how much will those materials cost?
If you have plenty of space and sunlight, but no fence or posts, consider building a hoop house (a clear plastic structure) around your garden beds. This will allow your plants to get the sunlight they need while protecting them from wind and rain.
You should also consider how many vegetables you want to grow in your first year. The best way to do this is by looking at seed catalogs or online resources that list how much space each plant needs — whether it be in rows or raised beds — as well as how many seeds are needed per packet.
3) Prepare your materials.
Make sure you have the right tools for the job. You don’t need to spend a lot of money on equipment, but you should invest in good-quality tools that will last. To get started, you need a few simple things:
- A spade and a rake are essential. If you’re planting a large area, you’ll also need a hoe, as well as possibly a fork or pitchfork.
- A trowel or spade. You’ll use this to dig holes and make furrows for seeds.
- A pair of gloves to protect your hands from sharp rocks and debris.
- A watering can with a long spout allows you to water plants without getting your feet wet.
- A sharp knife for cutting string and removing weeds from between rows of crops.
- A small pair of pruning shears for cutting branches and dead leaves from plants.
- Bale ties wire (or any other kind of sturdy twine) that won’t rot or break down after it gets wet (coir fibre will work as well)
- You’ll also need some seed trays and pots, compost or manure, and some fertilizer or compost tea (a liquid fertilizer).
You can buy specialist gardening tools such as trowels and forks that are specifically designed for growing vegetables, but they’re not necessary if you only have a small plot of land.
Bonus Tip: Invest in good soil.
Prepare the soil before planting anything by adding compost or other organic matter like leaves or grass clippings to decrease compaction from walking on it and increase nutrient availability for plants’ root systems.
4) Find high-quality seeds.
Your vegetable garden will be much more successful if you start with quality seeds. This means buying seeds from reputable companies, and not necessarily the cheapest ones. You may have to spend a little more upfront, but it’ll save you money in the long run because your plants will grow faster and produce better yields. Remember, If you buy seeds from a reputable seed company, they should be labeled as heirloom or non-GMO (genetically modified organism). They also should be tested for germination and viability. These steps ensure that the seeds will grow into strong plants.
5) Make weeding and checking for pests part of your routine.
Don’t let weeds get out of control — they can choke out the plants you want to grow, and they take up precious water and nutrients that could be going to your garden instead.
In addition, you also need to scout for pests as early and often. Make sure you check your garden regularly for signs of pests like aphids, cabbage worms or squash bugs. If you see problems early on, you can usually treat them with organic pesticides before they get out of hand and start feeding on your crops.
You should now have a better idea of what you’ll be needing, and how to go forth in starting your own vegetable garden. Start small with a couple of plants or even a few pots, and if you can’t quite figure it all out, maybe consider enlisting the help of an expert to give you some advice. Either way, you can, and should, start your own vegetable garden today!