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5 Vegetable Gardening Tips For Beginners
Many people are starting their own gardens to grow vegetables that are healthier and tastier than what they can get at the grocery store. Growing your own can be fun as well as be a money saving activity. It can be healthy by providing exercise and giving a person nutrients not provided at fast food joints. If you are looking for vegetable gardening tips to get started or just improve your skills these should help even though they are directed at the begining gardener.
Tip 1:Start With Organic Vegetable Gardening
Stay away from toxic chemicals in the garden. Big chemical companies continually spend a lot of money on advertising their chemical fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides. They want to convince you that you can't grow anything without the use of their chemicals. After using chemical for a while, that almost becomes true. These chemicals kill the soil. They kill all the organisms that allow plants to grow and makes the use of artificial fertilizers almost mandatory. The soil becomes a dead lifeless desert. Good for holding roots in place and little else.
These chemicals also end up in and on the vegetables that you plan on feeding your family. However you can grow vegetable without poisoning yourself. You don't need the chemicals regardless of what we have been told.
Starting organic is easy. Just feed the soil. You want to feed the earth worms and other beneficial organisms in the soil. You do this by adding organic matter to the soil. This builds up the soil and not just feed the plant like chemical fertilizers do.
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Tip 2: Stop Turning The Soil
Most gardeners think that they have to till the soil every year. Some do it several times a year. I grew up thinking this was the only way to have a garden, but have learned that it is totally unnecessary also. Tilling the soil actually disturbs the worms and other critters that are living in the soil and slows down the natural process of decomposition.
So what is the alternative? Instead of tilling you want to take a lasagna garden approach. A lasagna garden is where you just keep adding layers of organic material to your garden just like the pasta version. Generally a layer of green material with a couple layers of brown material. Green layers are things like grass clippings or kitchen scraps. Brown layers are things like leaves and dead plants. Click Here to read my article on the subject.
You will find that after a few seasons of not tilling, you will have a better harvest and have to work less to get good results. You won't have to spend as much time weeding and watering and will be able to spend your time canning or selling your harvest.
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Tip 3: Try Container or Raised Bed Vegetable Gardening
Raised bed gardening is an excellent way of starting out. You can make your garden any shape and as large or small as you want. It will also allow you to start with lasagna gardening. You don't even need a yard. Many people build raised beds on their concrete patios or on rooftops.
Container gardening is an effective way for those that don't have any space for raised beds or traditional gardens to grow some of their own vegetables at home. Many plants do well in containers like tomatoes and peppers. I even grow potatoes in containers. Space hungry plants like corn and dried beans are not good choices though. Herbs are excellent choices.
Read more about it in my urban gardening article.
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Tip 4: Make Good Use of Your Garden Space
Most beginning gardeners don't have a lot of room to start their vegetable gardens in so they need to make efficient use of the space they have. If you have a large area then you can start a large garden but you should still make efficient use of what you have. While it is great to have a plot of corn that is 50 ft by 100 ft, most don't have the space. That is why I recommended the raised beds and containers.
Start Square Foot Gardening
Square foot gardening means getting rid of the rows and planting in beds. The beds need to be small enough to be able to reach the center without walking on the bed. This will maximize the space you have. This eliminates a lot of the space used by planting in rows with paths in between each row. You will have more room for more crops this way.
Planting this way allows the plants to grow much closer together and lets them shade and keep the ground cooler. That means less watering. It also deters weeds. Since you are not always walking around the plants there is less soil compaction so plant roots can grow better.
Growing up and not out is one of the most efficient ways of maximizing your vegetable gardening space. The use of trellis's is a great way to do this. Many crops have to be trellised like peas and pole beans to do any good. Tomatoes are normally supported in some way to grow vertically. Crops like cucumbers and melons can be grown this way. You may have to weave the plants through the trellis as they grow though. Bigger melons may have to be supported with old panty hose or the like.
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Tip 5: Rotate Your Vegetable Crops
You don't want to plant the same thing in the same place year after year. Doing so will deplete the soil of the nutrients that plant needs. It will also allow the pests and disease pathogens to build up and thus damaging or killing the plants. Most experienced gardeners only plant the same crop in the same spot every three years, some every four years.
This means keeping records of what is planted and where for 3 or 4 years. You should have a garden plan before you start your garden. Draw out your garden. Then draw what you want to plant and where. Keep a journal of how the plants did and anything you did right or wrong. Write down when you spread organic material and what type. Keep a record of the dates of planting and harvest.
After a few years you will recognize what does well and what doesn't. You start to learn what plants do well when planted next to other plants. What plants don't do well planted next to other plants. You will probably learn more from your own journal than any other book or publication. Learning from experience is the best teacher in most things as well as vegetable gardening.