Today we’ll go over several ideas for beginning vegetable gardeners.
The Best time to start planting
Ah yes springtime, where days are getting warmer and longer. All of nature is coming to life after a cold winter. Now is the time to start planting your vegetables garden. This usually means the beginning of April although you can start earlier in the southern states and later in northern states depending on when your last freeze is.
While vegetables are relatively cheap nowadays but It is well-known they are mostly grown from GMO’s and shipped from a state that is hundreds to thousands of miles away from you and with several kinds of pesticides that are used on them. This also means they are picked before they are fully ripened and allowed to fully develop during transportation. If you are growing them in the backyard organically, with natural pesticides and fertilizers, they will contain better quality nutrients with fewer chemicals in them.
Raised bed gardens
I’ve found a raised bed garden offers many benefits for growing vegetables. You can build the bed to any size that fits your needs and the area you have to work with. You can use different combinations of soil amendments to grow in. Any of which is better than just plain dirt and also prevents the compaction of the soil which will lead to better drainage. Crawling bugs like caterpillars, slugs or snails can also be kept down to a minimum.
Raised bed are available premade in a variety of sizes and materials such as cedar or from different type of composite materials, any of which are weather and rot resistant. But I think someone interested in backyard gardening would also enjoy building their own raised beds. I’ve found that treated landscape timbers make an excellent choice for a raised bed. they’re inexpensive compared to the above mentioned materials and readily available at your local home improvement center. They can easily be put together using 4″ screws or lag bolts secure them together. they’re around 3″ high each so a total height of between 9″ and 15″ will work fine for a garden.
Best soil for a raised bed garden
Depending on where you live will determine what kind of soil you use. In a climate with a lot of rain will want a well draining soil probably using vermiculite in it. In a climate that is hot and dry you will want a soil that will hold on to its moisture.
A good mixture of top soil, peat moss and compost makes an excellent mixture for your garden. If you need better draining soil adding vermiculite will help. The compost and peat moss add much-needed organic matter to help grow very healthy vegetables.
Compost is not hard to make and actually quite fun. The easiest way I have found is to start in the fall after a fair amount of eaves have fallen. All you have to do is attach chicken wire to several close trees and start raking up leaves that have fallen. Readily made compost bins are available online if you would rather buy one than build one.
Add in some vegetable matter from your kitchen leftovers to it such as vegetables, fruit rinds, coffee grounds or eggshells. Basically anything organic and that will break down over time, like the leaves, will work. There are additives you can add to help the process along. A compost pile needs nitrogen to accelerate the decomposition. This can be derived from blood meal, soy bean meal, alfalfa pellets or chicken manure.
The less compacted and the more oxygen that can aerate the pile the faster is will break down into usable compost. Lastly adding cow manure to your compost pile speeds up the process due to the fact it is high in nitrogen and it will break down faster. Turning the pile with a pitch fork keeps it aerated better and thoroughly mixed together.
After your garden is planted
After you’ve chosen which vegetable or vegetables you want to grow and have them planted in your raised bed the next thing to consider is what type and how often you should add nutrients and water. If you use the mixture of soil stated above that in itself will naturally have enough nutrients in it to sustain the plant for at least a month.
While Miracle-gro will work take care of your needs I’ve found a company called Fox Farms has a line of fertilizers that are all organic and have a better ratio of nitrogen, phosphate and potash. Some of them contain worm castings and bat guano which are full of nutrients.
After several years of growing vegetables in the same beds the nutrients will get leached out of the soil. It is not a bad idea and add more mulch, soil and compost as well as other nutrients each season before you plant your garden.
Adding mulch to your garden, especially in dry, hot climates is a very good idea. It will help retain the moisture in your garden and slow down evaporation. Watering should be done as needed. This will depend largely on what type of climate you live in, the amount of rain you get and at what point of the season your in. Plants in raised beds tend to grow faster and use up nutrients and water faster than a regular bed.
Since you should have better soil drainage and when it’s hot and more evaporation off the plant leaves dryness should be check at least every other day. The best method to do this is to stick your index finger all the way into the soil. If it feels dry at all give the bed a good watering. It is better to give the bed a thorough deep watering at longer intervals instead of short waterings that barely wet the ground. This teached the roots to burrow deeper into the soil to reach the moisture thus developing a better root system.
Our ancestors were hunters and gatherers. They learned that planting seeds and tending to the harvest would provide the tribe with an abundance of food during colder months. I b';
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elieve this activity is ingrained in our DNA and is why you have farmers everywhere in the world growing vegetables from thousands of acres to rooftop building to small patches in their backyard.
Once you decide to you start a backyard garden, either as a hobby or to provide food for your family, the joy of growing your own vegetables on your own land is a very rewarding experience.