Gardening is part science, part art. There is a huge knowledge base for growing plants well, especially food plants, but thankfully the knack can be developed without too much trouble. Vegetable plants basically need arable earth and the right amount of sun and water.
They grow and produce; we benefit. Our part as gardeners is to encourage optimum results.
This compilation of gardening tips and knowledge tidbits is to that end.
General Vegetable Garden Techniques
The most basic home vegetable gardening method consists of long, single rows of vegetables spaced widely apart. That is the way I have raised vegetables in the past, and the way many choose. The ground is tilled each spring season, raked smooth, and then planted. The upside of this vegetable gardening method is that the plants receive the sun, moisture, and nutrients they need with good air circulation. The downside is the waste of space and the greater need to cultivate it than the more intensive methods require.
Raised garden beds or lowered ones create smaller spaces that make better usage of soil amendments, gardener energy, and keep soil tilth in good condition. Drawbacks can be that they dry out too quickly or hold too much water (lowered beds). Double Digging can be practiced in permanent beds.
Vertical gardening, using posts, trellises, and other supports for space saving upward growth is often used with all gardening methods. Tomato cages, or stakes are commonly seen. The Three Sisters combination uses corn as a natural support for vertical growth of bean plan plants.
Interplanting can help keep insect and disease problems under control. This method combines more than one type of crop in the same space. Again, “Three Sisters” is an example. Three Sisters are the triad of corn, beans, and squash, a method learned from the Native Americans. Plants like carrots and radishes can be planted together. This method creates a diversity of plantings
Succession planting is used to replace harvested crops with another to gain more production over the growing season from the same space. Lettuce crops replaced by beans, or corn after spring peas are possibilities. Follow crop rotation methods and be sure to replenish intensively worked soil.
“No-dig, no-till” gardening in a method called Lasagna Gardening, has been praised by some and panned by others. It is a sheet compost method creating by staking out the area, layering organic materials starting with something like cardboard, coir, peat moss, grass clippings, etc. adding top dressings of wood ashes, bone meal and such things. “Lasagna Gardening: A New Layering System for Bountiful Gardens: No Digging, No Tilling, No Weeding, No Kidding!” is the book that gives you complete details if you are interested in this approach. A method for smaller garden scale is also available,”Lasagna Gardening for Small Spaces”
Front Yard Vegetable Gardening, is one of the new/old garden techniques that bring past methods back into production. Think of the old fashioned cottage garden. It was a mix of vegetables herbs, and flowering plants, all grown intensively in the front yards of people that needed to make every foot of space work for them. A Front Yard garden that doubles as the home vegetable garden space.
Vegetable Gardening Tips
In winter, harvest your vegetables before the weather gets too cold. Or, use season extenders such as floating row covers or cold frames to keep the plants growing late into the season.
Renee’s Garden writes about a Three Sisters Garden, in which corn, beans, and squash are grown as companion plants. A very old concept, from native American legacy, this is a plan I want to put in my vegetable garden again. A garden seed company, Renee’s has a convenient Three Sisters Package of seeds.
Corn provides a natural pole for bean vines to climb. Beans fix nitrogen on their roots, improving the overall fertility of the plot by providing nitrogen to the following yearsâ€™ corn. Bean vines also help stabilize the corn plants, making them less vulnerable to blowing over in the wind. Shallow-rooted squash vines become a living mulch, shading emerging weeds and preventing soil moisture from evaporating, thereby improving the overall cropsâ€™ chances of survival in dry years. Spiny squash plants also help discourage predators from approaching the corn and beans. ~Renee’s Garden
If you want to grow your tomatoes from seed, see How To Care For Tomato Plants which provides 5 quick tips to start from seed.
Tomato Variety Review
A companion plant cheatsheet, or a good book on companion planting, the classic “Carrots Love Tomatoes: Secrets of Companion Planting for Successful Gardening” for more information on using plants to benefit each other.
Improving Your Soil Is Key To Good Produce
Good soil produces good vegetables. Add horticultural lime to most soils, since vegetable plants generally like a sweet soil. Add blood, fish, and bone meal, seaweed, and well-rotted manures to feed your plants naturally and build up fertility in your garden space. Compost improve both the fertility and structure of the ground.
Read more in:
- Know your soil: Let’s talk about dirt!
- Improve your soil, in depth.
- Grow Better, how-to.
- Use Mulch for conserving mositure.
Got voles? I chased mine away by spreading used clay cat litter (lumps removed) over clump and around it. It worked. -Ken Druse advice
I wouldn’t use that tip in a food space (transmittable parasites and diseases), but it would work fine in a purely ornamental one.
Some people try castor oil granules as repellent for rodents. This would work well in an edible garden.
If you have small circular holes in your garden ground it is a likely sign of voles.
Most of the garden pests are likely of the insect variety, and using beneficial insects to combat their numbers is often very efficacious.Growing Alpine Strawberries
Needed Garden Tools Next
A very important part of a vegetable’s path’s success is using labor saving tools. For good reason the old adage of “a hard row to hoe” meant having a difficult time of it. Old farmers knew that sharp tools meant less effort, and if you sharpen your hoe right after use, it is ready for the next time.
What Garden Tools Do I Need?
What tools do you need? At least one hoe and a garden rake (steel tine), top the list.
A small cultivator or a garden tiller like a Mantis, may be useful for garden preparation and upkeep, as well. I’ve used large garden tillers, both front and back engine, but I am leaning toward more permanent types of gardening with the use of a smaller cultivator like a Garden Mantis.
I don’t yet own one of those. Own it, love it!
A hand trowel is necessary for any type of gardening activity. When planting new transplants or weeding in between plants, my trowel is my best friend. It will prove to be yours, too.Garden Hoes
There are so many types of hoes! I use several in my vegetable garden, and like each one for different reasons. One favorite is the shuffle hoe, exactly like this one,Flexrake Hula-Ho Weeder Cultivator
from Amazon. It cuts weeds off just below the surface of the soil with ease. No lifting the tool… and the dirt sifts through the opening.
A garden rake, besides removing stones and clods and making a smooth surface can also create shallow drills for seeds such as lettuce. I simply bought one at the hardware store. Home Depot carries them. Or you can try this newfangled type:SELF-CLEAN RAKE from Union Tools. I have always been happy with Union Tool brand.
Hardy Vegetable Plant Info
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