Planting a little vegetable garden can satisfy your desire to till the soil. Even the most brown-thumbed among us can bring up a little food for the dinner table if they follow some basics. A few things you’ll need: a hoe, gardening gloves, a spade or spading fork, a steel bow rake, a trowel, a wheelbarrow, a garden hose long enough to water all parts of the garden and a wide-brimmed hat.
Most vegetable plants need at least six hours of direct sunlight daily and good drainage. Choose your plot accordingly. Test the soil to figure out what it needs before you plant. It may need to be rototilled to mix in organic matter and kills weeds.
Seeds can be sown directly into your garden plot or germinated and started indoors in containers. Follow seed packet directions. If you buy transplants, select ones that are equally tall and wide, dark green, vigorously growing, and free of spots or lesions.
Water your garden if you get less than one inch of rain per week. Water during the morning using a drip irrigation hose to keep water off the foliage. Adding mulch around your plants will help control weeds, prevent moisture loss and discourage pests.
In order for vegetables to be tasty and tender as possible, they must grow quickly. Read the back of the seed packet for recommendations on fertilizing to produce as much fruit as quickly as possible. Remember that the more nitrogen present in fertilizer, the more foliage your plants will produce. This is of course good for leafy vegetables, but cuts down on fruit production in other vegetable plants.
Thinning your plants will increase fruit growth as well. By cutting away excess foliage, you give the plant more resources to spend on the fruit. When thinning larger plants, use a knife to cut the stem at ground level, which won’t damage root systems of the remaining vegetables.
If you weed early enough and often enough, weeds won’t be a problem. When you see a weed, immediately pull it up by the roots. Again, using mulch will inhibit weed growth and germination. If, for instance, you go away on vacation and the weeds take over, use the square foot method to control them – weed at least one square foot of your garden each day, applying mulch immediately afterwards on the weeded area. Before long, your garden will be virtually weed-free.
Use weed and pest control chemicals wisely, remembering that pesticides kill the good bugs along with the bad bugs. Always follow package directions carefully.