On the journey to becoming self-sufficient, creating a garden to grow your own vegetables is an essential activity. However, in order to make the most of it, you do have to have a basic understanding of what it takes to be a dedicated vegetable grower. This can be a challenge for those of you who are new to gardening. Without doing proper research and planning, you will end up with too much of certain crops and not enough of others, and in the worst case scenario you may struggle to grow anything at all. Here are some tips to help you grow a successful, thriving garden!
Common Gardening Mistakes
One of the most common mistakes when it comes to starting out with growing vegetables is that people plant too much. It is an exciting journey you are starting, but don’t be tempted to plant every kind of vegetable under the sun. To begin with, just choose your favorite vegetables, or choose those which may be too expensive for your budget. It is always less expensive to grow your own vegetables. Over time, as you grow in confidence and experience, you can add more varieties and a greater number of plants if you wish.
Choosing Vegetables for Your Garden
When thinking about which vegetables to choose, take into consideration how much your household eats. There’s no point in planting several rows of carrots if only one person likes them; equally, it is sensible to grow more of the vegetables that you eat the most. If your family lives off homemade fries and mashed potatoes, then grow more potato plants! That said, if you do get the quantities wrong at first, don’t worry. You always have the option of fermenting your own vegetables or doing home canning in order to preserve your food for longer.
Next you need to consider the type of beds that you would like to use, and their layout. It is easy to think that a large vegetable garden is the best choice, but there may be factors of which you have not thought. It may cut down on your growing space slightly, but having paths in between your beds is a good idea. It will make it easier for you to access all your plants without stepping on any of them. Provided your beds are not too big, paths are also a useful thing to have when you are kneeling down doing the weeding!
Once you’ve decided on how your beds will look and which vegetables you are going to grow, the arrangement of your plants within the garden is the next thing to add to your plan. If you throw all your plants in randomly, you will not get the most out of them. Plant your vegetables according to the conditions that will suit them best.
For example, the plants that need the most sun should be positioned first, so that they can get most of the sun’s rays. These plants tend to be a softer vegetable such as peppers, or fruit such as tomatoes. Next, you should find homes for the plants that send vines out around the garden. These types of plants (including squash, melons and more) tend to have very large leaves, so by placing them at the edges of your garden, they will not cover and hinder any of your other plants. The amount of shade that plants get can also be crucial. If you are planning to plant any vegetables that grow vertically up supports (like peas and beans, for example), you will need to make sure that they will not be casting shade over your other plants. Unless, of course, you have other plants like spinach that enjoy cooler climes. Herbs or plants which you will want to harvest often are best placed as close as possible to your kitchen, so you’ll be more inclined to use them regularly.
Garden Watering and Drainage
At this point, you will also need to look at your irrigation and drainage needs. Certain plants are not suited to dry conditions. You will need to make sure they get plenty of water. Examples of these types of foods include strawberries and onions.
With regards to the rest of your planting, it is not a deal-breaker, but you may want to plan which types of vegetables you plant next to each other. Some plants need to be planted near to others in order to pollinate properly. Examples of this are tomatoes. They require pollination from other plants in order to produce their fruit.
Above all, the biggest trap when planning a vegetable garden, which you should be wary of falling into, is the temptation to overcrowd it. If you plant all the seeds you have, you’ll have gone to all that hard work and effort, only to have to go back later and remove some of your crops to give the rest space to grow. Go easy on your vegetables. You can always add more if you need to, but removing ones that you’ve already planted is a hassle!
Otherwise, you should be good to go. These are not hard and fast rules. Because every garden (and every gardener!) is different, just enjoy the process, and find whatever works for you. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. The fun thing about gardening is that if it does not go to plan, you can always take it all out and start again!