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Vegetable Gardening for Dummies – A Full Guide

Introduction: Vegetable gardening is the practice of growing and cultivating vegetable plants. Vegetable gardening is considered by lots of people to be a relaxing activity. Vegetable gardening is always an excellent and environment-friendly idea and if you can go for sustainable gardening then it will be even more helpful for all. Now let us get into the vegetable gardening for dummies.

A step by step guide to Vegetable gardening for dummies

Growing vegetables in your home or garden are good for you, your neighborhood, and for helping to reduce carbon footprint. Growing vegetables can be done in a single pot on your patio or a larger scale depending upon space and time you have obtainable.

Choose the best site for your vegetable garden, preferably in a location that is easily accessible from your home. You only need to follow a few simple steps to become a successful vegetable gardening venture.

Growing Vegetables on your Own.
Growing Vegetables on your Own.

The first and probably the important step are deciding what crops you want to produce and where you will be growing vegetables.

Here we discuss steps to start vegetable gardening for dummies;

How to choose a location for your garden

The first step in planning your vegetable garden is to locate where you are going to put it before you take any further steps. If you have limited space, you may want to consider a container garden, or putting in small raised beds to take benefit of the space you have.

You may be tempted to place your vegetable garden where you feel it will add the most significant aesthetic to your backyard, but set your veggies up for success by choosing the best location for their needs.

Make sure to plant in a sunny location

Most vegetable plants need at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day. The more sunlight vegetable plants receive, the greater the harvest, the bigger the veggies, and the better the taste.

Most vegetable plants require at least five hours of direct sunlight daily, while root vegetables will grow in partial shade.

Vegetables require sunlight to grow well and produce large yields. A good site receives a minimum of 6 hours of full sun each day, with 8 to 10 hours being ideal. Consider shading from buildings, fences, trees, and shrubs when selecting your vegetable garden site.

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The timing of Vegetable planting

You will need to schedule your planting according to the seasonal temperature range in your region. Early season vegetable plants like peas, Swiss chard, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, turnips, and onions grow best at temperatures between 10-20°C (50-70°F). These plants prefer a cooler time of the year to grow and will generally tolerate frost.

Vegetables like lettuce, celery, cabbage, carrots, radish, and leek have intermediate temperature requirements. They grow best in the temperature range between 15-25°C (60-80°F).

Raised beds for growing vegetables

Raised beds are useful for growing a garden in areas with heavy soil, poor water drainage, or soil that might have undesirable contaminants. They make it easier to keep the garden neat and tidy. More advantages from gardening with raised beds;

  • Easy to keep without stepping on loose soil reserved for plant roots
  • Keeps amended soil will be separate from pathways and unamended soil
  • Pest control is easier – snails, gophers, and two-legged critters
  • Crop rotation is easier
  • Ownership of bed is defined in a community garden
  • Easy access for physically challenged persons

Bed depth must be at least 12 inches, or up to 3 feet tall to provide for tomato roots. To access the bed from both sides, the width of a raised bed should not be more than about 4 feet. If you have access from one side, make the bed no wider than 3 feet.

Raised beds planted intensively and well-amended with manure and compost between crops offer higher yields in less space and are easier to maintain a weed-free.

Soil care for vegetable garden

Enriching soil with compost provides needed nutrients. Accurate drainage will ensure that water neither collects on top nor drains away too quickly.

Knowing your soils and amending for vegetation is a crucial step towards having a successful growing season. Vegetation receives its nutrients directly through its roots in the soils. Soils are comprised of a mixture of sand, silt, and clay with different percentages of each. Ideally, you want 40% sand, 40% clay, and 20% silt to create a loam that is well aerated and capable of holding moisture that is essential for vegetative life.

Amending soils, or improving your soils by adding in new materials to create a 40-40-20 percentage mix. It is important to step towards making sure your vegetable plants will have not only the best start in life possible but also will maintain through the growing and producing season.

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The importande of soil pH

The pH of the soil is normally anywhere between 4.0 and 8.5, but the majority of vegetable plants favor a pH of 6.5 to 7.0 because this is where most nutrients and available minerals are found. Soil pH refers to the acidity of soil or alkalinity of the soil.

The required composting

Compost is highly useful in your vegetable garden for a variety of reasons, but mainly because of the balance it lends to your soils when used correctly. Adding organic matter to soils will amend them in such a manner that you must have a higher nutrient content for your roots to uptake, as well as providing a foundation for better soil structure. Moisture will be better locked in and it drains as easily, and clay soils will better aggregate, or stick together, to make air pockets for essential oxygen.

The container selection for Vegetable gardening for dummies

Almost any type of container will do as long as it has good drainage. Smaller containers dry out quickly in summer. The smallest for outdoor use is probably 8 – 12 inches in diameter and depth. In part shade, you could have success with smaller containers.

If you are using recycled containers for vegetable growing, scrub them well and rinse in a solution of 9 parts water to one part bleach. If containers are porous that means clay, wood, cement then soak them well in water before filling so they won’t act like sponges and pull all the water out of the soil.

A deeper container is always better than a wider container as it provides more space for the roots to grow down in search of moisture and cooler temperatures. This will enable vegetable plants to thrive during hot summers when more frequent irrigation is required. Containers must be at least 4” deeper than the longest plant roots.

Vegetable plants in containers are above ground, the roots are more sensitive to temperature extremes. Midsummer heat can kill tiny hair-like feeder roots and without these feeder roots, the plant will wilt even if the soil is wet. Then larger roots become susceptible to root rot fungus that can destroy the rest of the plant. Overheating of the soil is a regular cause of failure in container plantings. Thick wood insulates best, dark-colored containers will absorb more heat, and light-colored type containers reflect heat. 

The important tools to start vegetable gardening for dummies

To obtain the best value, invest in well-made tools of good quality materials that are appropriate for your size and build.

You’ll need the following tools to start vegetable gardening;

  • A round-tipped shovel for digging.
  • A fork for turning and loosening the soil.
  • A steel bow rake for cleaning and leveling use.
  • A hoe or cultivator for weeding.
  • A hand trowel and a hand cultivator for transplanting and weeding.
  • A hose and nozzle, or watering can.

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Picking your plants

Choosing from the multitude variety of vegetable plants available for your garden is probably the most exciting part of the gardening process, but it’s also one of the quickest ways for things to get out of control. Fewer is better, especially when you are just getting started. Plants grow quickly, and if you are unsure of their mature size, overplanting can quickly effect choked out vegetation, poor harvest yields, an increase in bugs and diseases, and some cases, the death of the plant altogether.

Consider the following when deciding which vegetable plants to purchase, and only choose 8 to 12 different plant varieties depending on space to get started. You will want to plant 2 to 3 of each ideally, so you will have plenty of plants to harvest form when the time comes.

Some of the important vegetables to start vegetable gardening for dummies;

  • Radishes
  • Lettuce
  • Bush Beans
  • Squash
  • Tomatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Eggplant
  • Onions
  • Potatoes

Water properly

Watering your vegetable plants the correct amount neither too much nor too little that will give them the best chance at producing well-formed, mature vegetables.

Water early in the morning time to avoid wet leaves at night when temperatures drop and mildew and disease organisms flourish. Use a slow even spray to avoid washing out the garden soil.

Plant seeds

Once the soil is ready for use, you can start planting the seeds. You can plant seeds in a seedling tray and then transplant them to the container or plant them directly. If you use a seeding tray, you want to fill it with the potting mixture, plant the seed about an inch deep in each of the sockets and sprinkle them with water. After 5 or 6 leaves spring out or the plant is about 3 to 4 inches in height, you can transplant each plant to a pot.

During the transplanting procedure, avoid exposing the root of the sapling to direct sunlight because the roots will dry up and die. Do the transplantation in a shady area of the house or the evening timings.

Plant care – pests and diseases of vegetable plants

To control pests and diseases in the vegetable gardens, it is always advisable to use Biofertilizers like Azospirillum, and Biocontrol agents like Pseudomonas, etc and the plants can be sprayed with Neem oil to control sucking pests which is a major problem in vegetable gardening. Mix Neem oil in 10 liters of water and adds 10g of soap mixture and spray over affected vegetable plants. Spray made out of ginger, garlic and chili paste diluted in water are very effective for pest control. 

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