8 Tips – Vegetable Gardening
1. While planning your vegetable garden, consider what and how much you will plant. In selecting a gardening site or plot, consider the exposure to sunlight. It is important to consider also the different sunlight requirement for different vegetables. Leafy vegetables can be grown n partial shades but vegetables with fruits must be grown in direct sunlight.
2. Proper soil preparation provides the basis for good seed germination of garden crops. The ideal vegetable garden soil is deep, well-drained, moisture retentive and has high organic matter content. Soil should not be worked or plowed while it is very wet. Different types of vegetables would require varying degrees of soil acidity and this is measured by pH and must be adjusted accordingly.
2. In buying vegetable seeds, be mindful of the germination qualities, tendencies towards insects , vigour of plants etc. This provides useful benchmarks as you can determine whether the varieties are suitable or not for your gardening style or your area, or whether a particular seed company is not meeting your needs. You will be better prepared for the next planting season.
3. In sowing your seeds , you may want to plant extra seeds in each row in case of failed germination and thinning. It is important to keep soil moist until the seedlings are up. Thin them only after the seedlings have emerged and developed their second or third set of true leaves. The best time to thin is when the seedlings are still small as this will not disturb the roots of the plants.
4. The amount of fertilizer to use depends on the natural fertility of the soil, the type of fertilizer, the crop and the amount of organic matter present. The best way to determine fertilizer needs is to have the soil tested.
5. To manage pest control in your garden, start with ensuring that plants are healthy and growing well. Use plenty of compost, practise crop rotation and ensure adequate drainage. Remove vegetable refuse from the garden. Increase bio-diversity by planting only small quantities of the same vegetable in any one place. Encourage natural controls such as birds, toads and parasitic insects.
6. To ensure success in growing vegetables is to plant or transplant each crop at the best times for each locality. Vegetable crops may be grouped roughly and sown according to their hardiness and temperature requirements.
7. Weed control is essential in successful vegetable gardening as weeds can rob cultivated plants of water, nutrients and light. It is important that the soil is hoed or cultivated after each rain or irrigation to kill the weeds that have sprouted.
8. Regular watering is essential to maintain a healthy garden. Gardens in most areas would require a moisture supply equivalent to about an inch of rain a week during the growing season. An inch of rain is about 28,000 gallons on an acre or 900 gallons on a 30 x 50 feet garden.
Author – Suzana Slemat