On average an American spends about $615 per year on fresh vegetables and fruits. In years, more people have shown increased interest in vegetable gardening tips and growing their own veggies at home.
Home grown veggies are a great way to save money, reduce your environmental impact and enjoy a hugely rewarding, healthy, hobby!
Today, we’re going to cover the 12 essential vegetable gardening tips you need to know when you’re starting (or expanding!) your vegetable garden at home:
6 Tips to Choose the Right Location
1. Plants Need Sunlight
Most vegetables such as cucumber and tomatoes need plenty of sunlight. Hence, your garden location should support around 8 hours of direct sunlight daily.
However, some leafy vegetables can still do well in partial shades. For instance, spinach still thrives in partial sunlight spots.
If growing plants indoors, they should receive light from nearby ventilation.
2. Good Soil Drainage
Proper drainage is crucial for the well-being of crops. The ideal garden spot should therefore have good drainage. Adequate soil drainage prevents flooding.
Water pool promotes the rotting of plant roots and leaching of nutrients. For that reason, consider having raised garden beds and rows. Containers and bags are also great for growing vegetables.
Remember, a garden on top of a slope tends to dry quickly. On the contrary, the bottom of the slope may get flooded. So find a spot that has the right balance.
3. No Strong Winds or Human Traffic
Choose a garden location that doesn’t suffer a strong wind current. Furthermore, it should be close to a path with heavy human traffic. Any unguarded feet or strong wind currents may knock down taller plants like herbs and leafy vegetables. Also, insect pollination agents such as bees require a calm setting.
4. Reliable Water Supply
One of the most important vegetable gardening tips is to ensure there is a regular supply of water, which is necessary for the well-being of all plants. So make sure your garden location is close to a water source.
You can set up a drip irrigation system for the vegetables. It’s efficient and channels water directly to the roots of the plants. If possible, settle for a drip irrigation system with automatic timers to reduce excessive water use.
An alternative is to have a water hose that reaches all garden parts. Remember you’ll need to water the plants more frequently after transplanting. But as they grow, a timed drip irrigation system gives easy time.
Water your plants a couple of days a week, about an inch of water. By doing so, water penetrates deeply into the soil.
5. Use Soil with an Abundance of Nutrients
A nutrient-rich soil produces healthy vegetables. Hence, select a location in your garden that’s fertile. Alternatively, you can enrich your soil with homemade compost.
One of the most often overlooked vegetable gardening tips is to make sure that the soil is right for the types of veggies you’re growing – consider pH, drainage, and the balance of nutrients needed. Leafy greens need different nutrient levels to root vegetables, so make sure you choose the right one and amend the soil as needed.
Also, seek advice from a professional to know the fertility of the soil. Only then will you know the right vegetables and herbs that your garden supports. For example when growing cannabis in containers, choose the right soil to maximize your output.
6. Easy to Access
Your garden location should give you easy access. You can then pick a few fruits, herbs or leafy vegetables within minutes. A kitchen garden close to your house is therefore convenient, as well as pots or containers that are easily accessible from the kitchen.
3 Tips to Choose the Best Vegetables to Plant
1. Know What Your Family Likes and What’s Available at the Grocery Shop
The vegetable garden should help feed the family. So know the type of vegetable you enjoy most. It makes no sense to grow what your family doesn’t consume.
Also, take into account the vegetables available at the nearby grocery shop. It’s vital to consider growing what you rarely get at the local grocery shop. You can also consider growing the vegetable that you use most.
Approximate the volume of vegetables your family uses. Use that as a guideline for determining the volume of plants to grow.
In the beginning, grow just what’s enough for your consumption. As you gather experience, you can expand your production capacity.
2. Choose High-Quality Seeds
High-quality seeds have a high rate of germination. Seeds in a packet, though cheap, sometimes register a poor germination rate.
Dot shy off from paying more to get high-quality seeds and seedlings. For vegetables that mature quickly, seeding them directly isn’t bad. Good examples are spinach, cucumber, and carrots.
Otherwise, for those that take a while to mature, seedlings help jump-start the process. For instance, planting seedlings for tomatoes and herbs like Basil is better than the actual seeds.
3. Be Ready to Tend to the Plants All Year Round.
Some plants do well in the cold season and others in the warm season. For example vegetables such as tomatoes thrive during the summer.
If you must leave for a vacation, have someone to tend to them. Otherwise, plant the crops that grow well in the season you’re going to be at home, rather than the season you’re going to be in vacation.
3 Tips for the Best Garden Layout and Tools
1. Choose Between Intensive Cropping and Row Cropping
Intensive cropping lets you maximize the productivity of your garden. It involves planting the crops close by without their leaves touching at the maturity stage.
And so you have to section your vegetable garden into one foot square lattices. For extra-large crops place one crop per square foot of space. However, you can plant several medium or smaller size vegetables on a one-foot square.
If you practice intensive cropping, you have to weed manually. The close planting of crops doesn’t allow for using other equipment.
Row cropping involves planting a file of plants in each row. And then you have to leave a sizable space from one row to the next. A spacing of about 18 inches or more is sufficient.
Planting in rows fits large gardens owing to the large spacing. Overall it limits the number of plants you can plant in the garden.
But it allows you to employ garden tools and equipment. For instance, you can use tillers in fighting the weeds.
2. Have the Right Garden Tools
The right tools make tending to plants easy. As a beginner, you need basic garden tools. Otherwise digging, planting, and weeding won’t be easy.
Some senior gardeners find it convenient to weed wheel kneeling. In that case, you need the sturdy and dependable garden kneeler.
3. Know When and Where to Plant the Vegetables
Get your planting time right. The cold season vegetables (lettuce and peas) do best in the early spring. On the contrary, plant warm-weather vegetables such as tomatoes in late spring or summer.
Let the tall vegetables be on the northern side of the garden. Otherwise, they will cast shadows on shorter veggies and limit their yield. Dedicate the shaded part of the garden to the cool season plants.
Practice stagger planting. Do not plant all your vegetables at the same time. Plant the seeds and seedlings at intervals of weeks.
You then won’t harvest more than you can consume at one time. Besides, you can then have a fresh supply throughout the season.
The following video by HowtoGarden highlights a recap of essential tips for starting a vegetable garden:
A Final Word on Vegetable Gardening Tips
When starting a vegetable garden, get the location right. Choose a site that’s near a water point, drains well, and allows direct sunlight.
Then plant the vegetables that your family uses often on the right volume. Don’t forget to use high-quality seeds or seedlings. Remember having the right garden tools make your work easier.
About the Author
Tiffany Lei is the founder of Garden Guidepost. She is passionate about gardening and hopes to inspire more people to adapt to the gardening lifestyle and start composting.
Frequently Asked Questions
What’s the Best Location for a Vegetable Garden?
A vegetable garden site should drain well and be close to a water point. Also, it should allow plants direct access to sunlight for about 8 hours daily. You should also find it easy to reach the spot, so you can harvest your vegetables easily. Check out the full guide for more tips on how to start your own vegetable garden at home.
Should I Plant Seedlings or Seeds?
Inexperienced gardeners should plant seedlings and not seeds. Though cheap, growing vegetables from seeds are often challenging for beginners. Buying seedlings from reputable outlets is a better alternative for novice gardeners. Check out the full guide to learn tips and tricks to make the most of your veggies.
How Frequently Should I Water the Vegetable Garden?
Crops require regular watering. Check on the crops daily. Press your finger into the soil in your pot, about an inch down, to see if it is dry or damp. Dry soil needs to be watered, otherwise, leave it another day and test again. Check out the full guide for more on watering vegetables correctly.
How Do I Keep Pests Off My Vegetable Garden?
Install a perimeter fence to create a physical barrier. Choose disease-resistant plants and water them adequately at the base to boost their immunity. Also do not overcrowd your vegetable garden. You can also buy netting covers or small greenhouses to protect them from insects, birds and other hungry critters. Check out the full guide for more info on how to protect your veggie plants.
Huffington Post: Growing Your Own Food at Home
University of California, Davis: Food Spending and Farm Wages: 2019