Tips For Planning Your Vegetable Garden

After binge-watching the food network, you’ve probably dreamt of having your own vegetable garden where you can stroll around and cut chives or pick crisp lettuce and juicy tomatoes for your party's garden salad. The good news is that anyone can grow their own food whether you live in the smallest of apartments with a small balcony or in a house with a big backyard. As you start preparing and planning for your vegetable garden, you’ll eventually find that it won't be as easy as you initially thought. On the plus side, it would make a rewarding experience as there is nothing like eating your very own labor of love.

1. Plan your location

Most vegetables enjoy the same growing conditions: plenty of sunlight and water. It should be somewhere convenient enough for you to access every day to check on it. If your location is somewhere where there is little to no sun, don’t fret. You can opt to grow crops that fit those criteria. Otherwise, you can always adjust how you grow your vegetables. By using raised beds, lots of fertilizers, and making more room between plants are some helpful adjustments that you can implement.

2. Start small

This won’t be a problem in apartments with balconies but for those with bigger yards, you may find it more tempting to fill the whole garden with the different variety of vegetables. It may seem ideal to have a huge selection of veggies when you’re just beginning to grow your garden. Begin with a few crops and test yourself on whether you can keep up with it. You’ll be surprised to find out that such a small patch of a vegetable garden can already take up so much of your time and effort. If you start craving for more vegetables and you think you can handle the time and effort needed tending to your plants, go ahead and add another vegetable or two.

3. Choose easy-to-grow vegetables

Celery, cauliflowers, and muskmelons all have one thing in common: these are all hard to grow vegetables that need lots of extra care and attention. For newbie gardeners, it’s best to start with the tried and tested easy to care vegetable plants if it’s your first time growing so you won't end up frustrated and overwhelmed. When you find yourself enjoying growing your food, you can then go to the more challenging crops. Some examples of low-maintenance veggies are tomatoes, beans, and leafy greens like lettuce, spinach, and hot peppers.

4. Plant what you’ll only eat

Unless you plan on selling or trading your vegetables, grow only what you want to eat for you and your family. It’ll save you time and cost of seeds. Many beginners also make the mistake of planting too much of a variety of crops. Start with two or three kinds to maximize your efforts and crops yield.

5. Go for seedlings rather than seeds

Seedlings are easy to maintain as it has already sprouted and only needs to be repotted or transferred. Seeds, on the other hand, are cheaper and some seeds don’t take too long to germinate. Seedlings may have the disadvantage of not being properly cared for but it may be wiser to invest in seedlings when conditions in your area are less than ideal. The trick is to know when to choose one over the other. Salad greens, for example, are easy to grow from seeds but are fragile and may suffer from damage when transplanted so it’s best to start from seeds. Cucumbers, squash, and tomatoes may be difficult to grow so your best bet would be to get these as seedlings.

7. Protect your vegetables from pests and unwanted guests

If you live in a place where there’s plenty of herbivores like deer and rabbits, having an edible garden would be like heaven for them. Protect your plants by enclosing it with a sturdy, above-ground fence to keep away animals that can jump high and the diggers such as rabbits and groundhogs.

For pesky insects that will feed and destroy your crops, there are several methods of getting rid of these pests without the use of harmful chemicals that will contaminate your yields. Incorporate a local trap that will lure away insects from the main crops. Consider investing or attracting the beneficial insects like lacewings that will feed on these harmful insects. Plant with some distance among each of the crop so that you can quickly isolate and remove damaged or pest-ridden crops. Stakes and netting also help keep your plants protected away from pests.

8. Food for your food

The soil of your garden must meet all the nutrients required to keep your veggies in tip-top shape and it would be best to prepare the necessary nutrients for your veggies to help it grow. Organic fertilizers should be locally available in nearby nurseries. Be prepared with these at hand if the area you’ll be planting it doesn’t have the best soil.

9. Don’t invest too much in gardening tools

Remember that you’re just starting so the basics would be a shovel, fork, and trowel. A tiller may also be added. Once you’ve got this gardening business down in the hole, you can then start to add hoes, stakes, pruners, sprinklers, and maybe get an irrigation system installed. Don't forget to incorporate weatherproof furniture for a resting place while tending to your precious crops.

10. Look for various ways to plant based on your location

Depending on your location, you may want to explore various ways to create and fill your garden. You may opt for containers or planters, raised boxes, and even spiral gardens if you have a scarce space. Choose to integrate your edible garden with your landscape. If you have limited outdoor space, try talking with your neighbors if they don't mind you making a garden in your front yard.

Remember that you are a beginner

Treat your garden with curiosity and if your crop dies or it didn’t grow like you expected it to, learn from your mistake and start again. Get tips from your local nurseries or check for tips online to better your skills, but the most important thing is to have fun as gardening is hard work but the fruits, or rather veggies, of your labor are so much worth the effort.

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