Introduction on how to start vegetable gardening for beginners in India: Growing vegetables is a rewarding activity that can provide fresh, delicious produce. Gardening provides a variety of benefits such as exercise, fresh air, and landscape beautification, along with enjoyment. The system also contributes to a varied and nutritious diet at a lower cost by reducing food expenditures more than the costs associated with growing vegetables. The freshness of their homegrown produce, coupled with a greater variety, is something that many gardeners find superior to what they can buy at the supermarket.
A step-by-step guide on how to start vegetable gardening for beginners in Indias, tips, ideas, and techniques
Vegetable gardens can be grown by anyone willing to invest some time every day or two to nurture the plants. There is no need for a lot of money, time, or talent, although some of each would be helpful. You will improve every year if you practice and have patience. If the first attempt is not a huge success, don’t give up. There is no need for acres of space for vegetables. Vegetable gardens are not always in the ground. It is also possible to plant them in a planting bed. In addition, it is possible to use containers to grow many vegetables. But to succeed, you need more than a place to grow vegetables. They require sunlight, water, soil, and fertilizers.
Essential requirements to grow vegetable gardens:
Sunlight: Direct sunlight is necessary for most vegetables. The plants that we grow for their leaves, including lettuce, kale, chard, and Spinach–and those that store food (such as radishes, turnips, and beets) require only six hours of sunlight do better with eight or more. Fruit-bearing plants like tomato, squash, and cucumber thrive with at least eight hours of light.
Soil: It is essential to test the soil before feeding vegetables. Take soil samples at a 6 to 8 inches depth, and retest the soil every two to three years. The pH of the soil and nutrient availability can be determined by soil testing. Plant nutrients, including those added by fertilizers, become tied up as pH moves away from neutral. Vegetable plants prefer a pH range of 6.0 to 7.0, in which the soil is slightly acidic to neutral. The soil pH outside this range causes vegetable plants to have trouble absorbing nutrients, even when those nutrients are abundant. To make the most of your fertilizing, test regularly.
Water: Water, which makes up 90 percent of a plant’s weight, is one of the essential factors of gardening. Since water is heavy and difficult to move, make it easy to water the garden by locating it near a continuous water supply. Having to carry buckets of water across the yard or drag a hose hundreds of feet every few days makes gardening a lot more complicated. Vegetables need only one inch of water per week. On average, only one of these needs to be provided what is not provided by rain. You should water the soil, not the plant. A lot of diseases are spread by water splashing on the leaves. In addition to causing insect damage, overwatering can also wash away nutrients, polluting nearby streams.
Fertilizers: In general, gardeners should use a fertilizer with twice the amount of phosphorus as nitrogen and potassium. Fertilizers of this type are easily accessible. In addition, the soil in some areas contains enough potassium to support plant growth and doesn’t need to be supplemented.
The basic process to start a vegetable garden:
1. Need to select the correct location: Locate the garden in an area that gets plenty of sunlight, has plenty of space, and is close to the hose or water source. Also, make sure the area is level to prevent erosion.
2. Choose your vegetables: Based on your climate, space, tastes, and expertise, decide what products to include. For example, if you are new to gardening, you may want to consider growing carrots, beans, cucumbers, peppers, and lettuce.
3. Soil needs to be prepared: Compost and natural fertilizers can be mixed into your garden to condition the soil for your plants. Garden supply stores can test your soil’s acidity and recommend supplements, or you can buy specially made soil in bulk.
4. Make sure you know when to plant: Because growing conditions and ripening cycles differ from plant to plant and from season to season, you should not sow all the seeds simultaneously. Seed packets contain planting dates. Before creating a gardening schedule, consider the ideal conditions for each vegetable.
5. Adding water is necessary: Maintain the soil evenly moist all growing season long by spraying the garden with water. You can create a gentle mist for your garden by purchasing a spray nozzle for your hose.
6. Keep weeds out of the garden: Mulching is the most effective method of preventing weeds. Plant your garden with an organic mulch of 2 to 4 inches thick to keep the weeds from overtaking your crops. The best way to get rid of weeds in the garden is to grab them low on their stems and yank sharply, making sure to remove the entire root.
7. Plants need room to grow: Check the seed packet spacing guide and remove crowded seedlings right away.
8. Fertilize if necessary: Adding fertilizer and lightly tilling the soil will make it prosperous. Fertilizer can be purchased ready-made or made yourself from Epsom salt, eggshells, fish tank water, and kitchen compost.
9. Enjoy your harvest: Whenever possible, harvest vegetables when they’re young and tender. When root crops are large enough to eat, pull them. By cutting them to the ground, it is possible to collect leaf crops. Enjoy your harvest.
Types of Vegetable Gardens
According to their purpose, vegetable gardens can be classified into different types. For example, there are home or kitchen gardens, market gardens, truck gardens, floating gardens, and gardens for seed production.
1. Kitchen Garden or home garden: A home or kitchen garden refers to growing vegetables in the back yard of a house. Vegetables can now be grown over roofs and in verandahs due to the growing demand for valuable land. As a result, fresh vegetables are provided, and money is saved as vegetables have become quite costly in markets. Furthermore, fresh vegetables are suitable for a well-balanced diet, but eating fresh vegetables is also delicate psychologically.
2. Market Garden: This type of garden aims to produce vegetables for the local market. Therefore, they are restricted to the immediate vicinity of cities and towns. In general, such gardens are located between 15 and 30 km from major cities. These types of gardens are generally expensive since they are located near urban areas. Therefore, intensive cultivation is used. The gardener must possess a wide range of skills to grow vegetables to supply the market throughout the year.
3. Truck Garden: It refers to producing certain crops in larger quantities for a small market. It is determined by the soil and climate conditions suitable for growing those specific crops where this type of garden is located. The cultivation is more extensive. A middleman usually markets the commodities. An excellent example of truck gardens is growing cabbage and cauliflower in the Nilgiri mountains and delivering them to distant places like Chennai, Trivandrum, and Cochin. Due to the development of quick and easy transport systems, the distinction between the market and truck gardens continuously decreases.
4. Floating Garden: The floating garden is practiced in the Dal Lake of Kashmir, India. Typha grass from the lake is used for the floating base, and organic matter such as compost is spread over it. Plant protection measures and organic farming practices are used to cultivate the vegetable.
5. Seed production gardening: growing vegetables exclusively for seeds is seed production gardening or vegetable cultivation. Seed production requires knowledge of varieties characteristics, pollination, compatibility, isolation distance, hybridization techniques, rouging, harvesting, treatment, germination, storage, and seed laws.
Different types of vegetables we can grow in India:
Brinjal: Soak brinjal seeds overnight and plant them in well-drained soil. Once the saplings have grown to five to six inches tall, transplant them into a potting medium. The companion plants you can use are tomato, cabbage, Broccoli, etc. Control the amount of water given to the plant once the flowering has begun. To encourage pollination, fold the flowers and rub them gently. Once a week, give the plant a handful of compost or banana peels or Jeevamrutham or eggshells.
Tomato: Make the potting mix by mixing sand, red soil, compost, cocopeat, and neem cake ratio 30:20:20:20:10. Tomato seeds should be sown in a potting mix evenly spaced apart. Sprinkle with water after sowing. Water the seeds every two to three days till they sprout. Plant the sapling with four true leaves in a big pot and stake it with sticks on all four sides. Water the tomato plant weekly until it flowers. Spray the dish-washing solution with diluted neem oil once every 15 days since mealybugs and leaf miners attack tomato plants.
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Cucumber: A cucumber can regulate body temperature because of its high water content (96%), making it a hydrating and refreshing food during the summer months. Being a member of the squash family effectively eliminates toxins from the digestive system and improves digestion. Additionally, cucumbers contain magnesium, potassium, and fiber, all of which regulate blood pressure. Therefore, cucumber is an excellent choice if you want to dissolve kidney or bladder stones. You should not have waterlogged soil, but it should be moist and well-drained. Before planting cucumber seeds, add organic matter up to two inches deep to improve the clay soil. Plant seeds 1 inch deep and 6 to 10 inches apart. Water it immediately, then water it according to requirements. Whenever transplanting seedlings, they should be spaced 12 inches apart. You may want to consider a trellis if you want the vine to climb or if you have a limited amount of space.
Bottle Gourd: Bottle gourds or lakes restore the body’s functions because they create a cooling effect. This vegetable, which is rich in water, fights acidity and aids digestion. The moisture contains also quenches thirst efficiently, keeping you cool throughout the summer. Furthermore, the consumption of bottle gourd juice with a teaspoon of lemon juice is an excellent diuretic, i.e., it stimulates urine production, which further detoxifies the body. Bottle gourd seeds are best sown during the summertime. Overnight soaking of the seeds will speed up germination. After germination, space the seeds about 24 inches apart to give the plants room to grow. Potted plants should be grown in 12-inch pots with sturdy trellises. Plant the new plant on a rope. Plant the bottle gourds so that they will be stable since the fruit can be heavy. The plant should receive sunlight for eight hours every day.
Chili: An Indian meal is incomplete without this essential ingredient. In your kitchen, you can obtain the seeds for the same by drying red chilies. First, prepare the soil with cocopeat, compost, and perlite (or tiny pieces of thermocouple) mix. Soak the potting mix in ample water overnight in a small pot. The next day, press each chili seed gently into the soft soil and cover it with mulch/hay. Water the seeds daily until they germinate into tiny saplings. When the leaves appear, move each sapling into a bigger pot at least 20 inches high. Water daily until the plant blooms. Reducing watering is recommended after flowering. If the chilies have fruited, harvest them.
Onions: The body benefits from onions’ anti-aging properties. Onions improve strength and stability. Additionally, regularly, onions boost digestion and treat bleeding disorders such as nosebleeds and bleeding piles. It also relaxes your mind and helps you to remain calm despite the scorching heat. Use average soil enriched with aged compost when planting onion seeds. Plant them in full sun for better germination. Sow thinly in rows 1 to 2 feet apart in fine soil, then cover with a layer of 14 inches. Water the soil lightly to ensure even moisture.
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Pumpkin: Growing pumpkins in your backyard is a treat for your health and your taste buds. Pumpkin is a low-calorie fruit high in vitamin A, flavonoid polyphenols, and antioxidants (such as lutein, xanthin, and carotenes). Pumpkin’s fast-growing vine grows similarly to other Cucurbitaceae (cucumber, squash, cantaloupes, etc.). Directly sow seeds in the soil. Pumpkins are very sensitive to cold temperatures. As such, you should make sure the sowing conditions are ideal. Plant pumpkin seeds in rows or small mounds called pumpkin hills. Because of hills, the land will warm more quickly, and the seeds will sprout more quickly. Prepare the hills in advance with old manure buried deep into the soil (12 to 15 inches). It is recommended to plant seeds one inch deep (4 to 5 seeds per mound). Space mounds 4 to 8 feet apart. Your plants will sprout within 5 to 10 days after growth. After the plants grow to 2 or 3 inches tall, thin the plants to just 2 or 3 per hill by snipping off all unwanted plants.
Coriander: There’s nothing better than sprinkling fresh Coriander over a bowl of gravy or a tropical salad to make it taste even better. Each time Coriander is added to a dish, and these tiny leaves will add a pleasant aroma. The process of growing them is straightforward. First, break the coriander seeds into two with your fingers by pressing them slightly. Next, break the seeds and soak them in water overnight. Next, place equal mixed amounts of red soil, cocopeat, neem cake, and compost in a pot. Then you can sow seeds in it by scraping lines through it while draining it thoroughly. Finally, cover the scraped lines evenly with seeds. It is best to use leaves and soil to cover the seeds lightly. A sprinkle of water will do.
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Spinach: Greens like Spinach are healthy and typical. This nutrient-packed superfood is low in calories. Spinach is also known to strengthen bones, skin, and hair. In addition, Spinach has been shown to lower glucose levels because it contains an antioxidant known as alpha-lipoic acid, an antioxidant that reduces glucose levels. In addition to providing beta-carotene, Spinach is also an excellent source of antioxidants, which lower asthma risk. Plant about a week before adding manure to the soil. You can propagate seeds indoors, although it is not recommended since seedlings are hard to transplant. Incorporate seeds into the soil between 12 and 1 inch deep. The seeds can be planted in rows of 12 seeds per ft or sprinkled over a wide layer or row.
Okra: Okra, a flowering plant, is called ladies fingers or bhindi throughout the country. Vitamins A, B, C, E, and K are all present in this vegetable pod: calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, and zinc. As a result, eating Okra helps boost immunity and improve digestion as well as vision. Vitamin A antioxidants also promote skin health, as it speeds up the healing process, reduces scarring and acne, and eliminates wrinkles. Okra can be sown directly in your garden three to four weeks before spring arrives. To plant Okra: Space is about 12-18 inches apart and 1 to 2 inches deep. Soak the seeds in tepid water overnight to promote germination. Make sure you leave ample space between them, so they have ample room to grow. It is a tall plant. Thus, spacing out the rows should be between 3 and 4 feet.
Bitter Gourds: Bitter gourds Unpopular opinion – nothing can beat crispy fried bitter gourds with hot rice. It is also easy to grow the vegetable. Soak the seeds overnight and plant them in small pots so that only two seeds are planted together. To prepare a potting mix, combine 30 percent red soil with 20 percent compost and 20 percent cocopeat, 20 percent sand, and 10 percent neem cake. Then water the mixture thoroughly and set it aside. Remove the sapling gently from the small pot with the soil and place it in a larger pot. Put sticks into the soil to support the creeper. Continue pinching the side stems so that the main stem reaches 6-7 feet high. It is adding compost once a week is a good idea. Remove leaves close to the plant’s base to prevent infection. 7-8 feet is the height at which you should pinch the tip. After the female flowers have appeared, hand-pollinate them using the male flowers. Male flowers do not have fruit underneath them so that they can be identified as female flowers. To avoid fruit flies attacking the pollinated flower, cover it. After the gourds are ready for harvest, harvest them. One or two bitter gourds should be left hanging till they have completely turned yellow to obtain seeds.
Radish: Radishes are quite the underrated ingredient in Indian cuisine. They are consumed in many different ways depending on the region. The plant is also straightforward to grow at home, which few people know. Use a red, well-draining soil that is rich in organic compost and blended with cocopeat. You can sow seeds by making dents at a distance of 1 inch in the soil of approximately 0.5 inches. After the seeds germinate in about a week, separate the seedlings around 2 – 4 inches apart. Growing the long, white variety of indigenous radish in a potting container of around 20 liters is ideal. After a week, add vermicompost. Water regularly Harvest about a month after planting. Many Indian cuisines (e.g., Bengali) consume radish leaves as a delicious saga.
Capsicum: In Indian kitchens and urban gardens, capsicum is a staple ingredient. They must be cultivated correctly. It is best to plant capsicum seeds in late winter, spring, and early summer. The plant thrives in moderate temperatures. Sow seeds in seedling trays and cover them with plastic wrap after sowing to keep the soil moist. Remove the plastic cover of the tray once the seeds have germinated, and keep the tray in a sunny area. When the saplings’ true leaves appear, transplant the saplings into larger containers. Loosely cover the soil with potting mix. Water your plants regularly. Every two weeks, apply a water-soluble organic fertilizer. In around 60 to 90 days, fresh capsicums will be fully grown.
Mint: Plants like this are probably the easiest to keep at home since they require no soil. Save a few fresh mint sprigs you got from the market for later use. Cut the stem 15 centimeters below the node from a healthy, thick stem. You can gently remove the leaves with your hands. Please take a few trimmings and put them in a clean glass. Keep out of direct sunlight and indoors. Branches will sprout leaves and roots in a few days. Once you have the leaves, you can use them directly or transplant them into new potting soil.
Potatoes: Growing potatoes at home are one of the easiest things you can do. However, when potatoes are left too long, sometimes they grow on their own. So instead, put a whole potato in some soil or a glass pot and wait. Plants that take root to overgrow.
Some tips for vegetable garden
Use Mulch: Cover your irrigation lines with organic mulch if possible. Mulch helps keep the soil cooler in summer and warmer in winter because it insulates the soil. Besides retaining moisture, mulch suppresses weeds and guards against diseases that splash onto the plants due to soil contact. Besides, mulch gives your garden a beautiful look. Choosing the right type of mulch for your vegetable garden is equally important. Mulch may contain levels of harmful chemicals that are unacceptable. The Mulch and Soil Council certifies that bagged mulches and soils contain no harmful ingredients, despite no such certification for bulk mulch. Verify the source of the mulch by checking the bag or contacting your bulk mulch supplier.
Conserve water: Most vegetable plants require an inch of water per week, including any natural rainfall. To irrigate efficiently and effectively, soaker hoses and drip lines are the best choices. In addition to providing roots with time to soak up water, they also help keep foliage dry. For extended periods, wet foliage can promote diseases. Using an automatic timer takes the worry and effort out of this all-important step.
You must be patient when controlling pests: In any vegetable garden, some level of pests is almost inevitable. However, by exercising patience, nature will usually deal with the problem. Even though your garden is home to many insects, only about 3% are harmful. You’ve already taken sufficient measures to ensure that your plants grow healthy and are better prepared to repel pests when you take the steps outlined so far. If you must use insecticides, use them responsibly! Whenever possible, late in the afternoon or evening. In the morning, when beneficial insects and pollinators are most active, do not use pesticides. If you don’t, they are likely to die as well. Food gardens are one of the best places to avoid using chemicals. Focus on growing healthy plants in a sunny location with excellent soil and let nature take its course. Most synthetic pesticides and many organic/natural pesticides are non-selective, meaning they kill beneficial insects.
Avoid overfertilizing: Using too much fertilizer, especially nitrogen (the first number on the fertilizer package), can encourage a lot of lush green growth without bringing about much fruit or a large harvest. In addition, too much fertilizer can be harmful to your plants and the soil. If possible, add up to 20% of the total soil makeup in organic compost. You can make your plants thrive if you incorporate them into the soil. Putting it another way, feed the soil and let the soil feed the plants.
Homemade vegetable garden fertilizers
Manure: Cows, horses, and chickens produce manure. Each type of manure contains many nitrogen and other nutrients, but you must use it carefully. For instance, if your plants receive too much raw manure, it may burn your plants because it’s highly acidic and high in nutrients. Manure that has been composted is the best option. You can use more of it to improve your soil’s water retention because it is less nutrient-dense and acidic. Also, manure will turn into a perfect soil amendment quickly and odor-free.
Tree Leaves: Instead of bagging up the fall leaves and putting them out on your curb, collect them for your garden. As well as providing trace minerals and attracting earthworms, leaves help make heavy soil lighter by retaining moisture. You can use leaves in two ways: Till them into the soil (or mix crushed leaves into potting soil), or you can use them as a mulch to fertilize your plants and keep weeds away.
Coffee Grounds: One of their best uses is as fertilizer. Many plants thrive best in acidic soil, such as blueberries, rhododendron, and roses. You can help your soil become more acidic by recycling your coffee grounds. Alternatively, you can top dress the soil by sprinkling used coffee grounds on top or make “coffee” to pour into your garden. After watering acid-loving plants, used coffee grounds can be soaked in water for up to a week, then used as garden coffee.
Eggshells: It helps lower the acidity of your soil so that plants that don’t like acid can tolerate it, and it provides plants with calcium that is an essential nutrient. If you’ve ever used lime in your garden, then you know it offers lots of benefits. However, if you’d prefer to save a little money over buying lime, a cheaper alternative is also a way to achieve the same results. You can use eggshells from your kitchen in your garden by washing them, saving them, and crushing them. The scientific name for lime is calcium carbonate, which makes up 93% of eggshells.
Banana Peels: Bananas are high in potassium, as are roses. Therefore, the first step is to bury peels together with the rose bush, naturally compost them. Then, in the course of the growing season, bury the peels into the soil. Both of these approaches provide the plant with much-needed potassium for proper growth.
Commonly asked questions bout vegetable garden
1. Which vegetables are the easiest to grow?
Leafy greens like lettuce, radishes, and peas are easy to grow in spring, while prolific zucchini is a good bet in the summer. Then, after the growing season ends, circle back to those leafy greens to finish off the season strong.
2. What’s better, seeds or seedlings?
You can start your vegetable garden in one of three ways:
- Planting seeds directly into the soil
- Starting seeds indoors
- Starting seeds from starter plants
Seeds are an excellent place to start but can be challenging at times. Starter plants will cost you a little more, but they are already ready to go. Beginners are advised to skip the seeds and choose starter plants.
3. How can I protect my plants from extreme heat and drought?
Vegetable gardens are prone to damage from high temperatures and little rainfall. However, you can protect your summer vegetables against heat and drought by following these simple steps:
- Maintain a well-watered garden (ideally early in the morning to reduce evaporation).
- Keep the soil moist by applying mulch.
- Don’t overfeed plants.
4. In which month do carrots grow in India?
Carrots are best grown in the winter season in India, and seeds should be sown from October to November. However, they can also be grown during the monsoon.
5. What are the best vegetables to grow in the rainy season?
Cucumber, Tomato, Brinjal, Radish, Okra, Beans, Green Chilies.
6. What vegetables are high in vitamins?
Vegetables rich in vitamins are Broccoli, green beans, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, Spinach, Squash, carrots, sweet potatoes, turnips, and pumpkin.
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