There are a lot of good reasons to start vegetable gardening at home — and one of them is consuming the freshest, tastiest, and most organic veggies for the whole family! You’ll never discover how some of the food you purchase from the market are grown and processed, so take advantage of knowing what goes into your table by harvesting your own crops.
To help you begin, we will highlight some of the basics of home-growing in this list of the best vegetable gardening tips for beginners!
1. Come up with a plan
There are a lot of things to consider in growing fruits and vegetables in your garden. First on the list, of course, is the kinds of plants you prefer to grow.
Determine some of your favourite fruits, veggies, and herbs — especially the types that can be hard to find in the market or are best eaten minutes after they are harvested. Some of the best examples can be sweetcorn, carrots, garlic chives, and quinoa. Some of these can be much more hardy or fragile than others. With this in mind, opting for a greenhouse may be a wise move if you fear perishing plants.
2. Start on time
It’s a great thing to be eager about starting a sustainable area in your garden. This, however, needs to be started at the right season.
One of the best practices would be to invest in seed packets of all the vegetables you want to eat for the next months of the year. Most of these packs come with a sowing guide that gives out the best months to start your crops.
For example, you can plant quick-to-mature-crops such as spinach, radish, salad leaves, rocket, and baby roots from March until late August in short 1m rows every four to six weeks. You can also start sowing indoors earlier using heated propagators or grow lights, transferring crops such as squashes, sweetcorn, rocket, and coriander outside once the soil warms up in April.
3. Prepare well before the growing season begins
If it is not yet the best months to start planting your vegetables, you can use your time to lay the groundwork. Order your seeds and prepare your growing areas — either you prefer container gardening or traditional plant beds.
Dig over these areas and remove the weeds. You can also start buying or making your own compost. For some herbs, you can already plant and set them up in your kitchen nicely. Within two weeks, micro leaves will be ready for consumption.
4. Opt for young plants instead of seeds
It is undeniably cheaper to start planting with seeds. For beginners, however, it can be potentially tricky to care for your crops during their early stages. So, you can opt to buy young plants such as the grafted varieties that are believed to have 75% higher yields.
Habanero chillies and flat-leaf parsley are some of the fussy germinators you can purchase as seedlings. Though easier to grow from seed, you can also buy and plant trays of mangetout peas, broad beans, and salad leaves directly outside. When it comes to cauliflowers, broccolis, and cabbage plants, however, you need to be careful in buying seedling as root congestion can cause premature and reduced cropping.
5. Choose the right location
There are three things to consider in determining the best place in planting vegetables: sunlight, soil, and environment.
Most veggies require at least 6 hours of direct sunlight every day, so choose the best spot for this purpose. This will improve the amount of your harvest and your vegetables’ size and taste.
When it comes to soil quality, you will need some nice, loamy soil to make sure that your plants’ roots will penetrate easily. You can enrich your soil quality with nutrient-rich compost and a proper drainage system.
In terms of environment, you will need to decide for a stable location that isn’t prone to flooding during rainy days nor one that tends to dry out a lot. You shouldn’t place your beds somewhere where there are frequent strong winds too, as they could knock over your seedlings and prevent pollinators from doing their job.
6. Decide on the best plot size
In deciding for the size of your vegetable plot, avoid doing one of the beginners’ most common mistakes — planting too much too soon. Do not grow more than your family could ever consume, so it’s best to start small.
A 16×10 feet vegetable garden is an ideal plot for beginners, especially if it features some easy to grow plants. This size, based on current research, can already feed a family of four for one summer, plus a small number of leftover veggies for canning, freezing and giving away.