Almost anyone can grow a vegetable garden, but there are some things every vegetable garden will need to produce at full potential. Do you have the basics?
Many people may be trying to slash their grocery budgets this year by supplementing their family’s good with a home vegetable garden. Make sure all the basics are in place to increase your gardening success.
Sunlight is Required for Most Herbs, Fruits and Vegetables
Almost all vegetables require full sun, which means 8 hours or more per day of sunlight. Most fruits and the majority of herb plants also require full sun conditions, although there are a few exceptions that can work for shade gardens.
Garden Location – tips for increasing the amount of sunlight a vegetable garden receives include locating the vegetable garden on the sunny side of the house. For most gardeners in the Northern Hemisphere, that will be the southern exposure of the house.
White Fencing – use white fencing near the garden to reflect back the sun rays onto your vegetable garden. Be careful, because in hot, dry areas of the US, this can increase the likelihood of burning the leaves or increase the amount of watering you need to do.
Good Soil Drainage for Vegetable Garden Health
Most vegetables will not tolerate soggy soil conditions. Either they will not produce well, or they will actually drown and the plant will die. In the case of root crops like potatoes and carrots, the vegetable you want to harvest may even rot. If your sunny garden area tends to hold water too much (puddles of water hours after the rain is over) you’ll want to improve the soil before planting vegetables.
Add soil amendments. Coarse chopped plant material like leaves and grass can help. Compost is always a beneficial additive as well. Begin by adding a full 6-12 inches of soil amendments and reevaluate your garden site.
If your desired vegetable garden location still holds too much water, consider making a raised vegetable bed. Raised garden beds are a perfect way to increase soil drainage because you are raising the level of the garden. Simple boards secured at the corners can be used to create a 6 or 12 inch tall raised planter which should then be filled with quality top soil and compost.
Of course, there’s more to good soil than just drainage. Quality soil for vegetable gardens includes plenty of rich organic material. Thick layers of mulch and compost are perfect for inexpensively fertilizing your vegetable garden – no chemicals required! When in doubt – add compost.
Other than sun and soil, vegetable gardens are highly customizable and can be as small as a container on a New York apartment balcony, or as large as a several acre homestead or hobby farm. Keep in mind the basic needs of creating a vegetable garden – sun, drainage and soil, and you’ll be able to raise beautiful produce in your home vegetable garden.