Three guidelines for starting a vegetable garden
This is the time of year when people most often start gardening. There are many good ways to do this, but I’m going to propose three common guidelines below. My garden is based on the ideas of John Jeavons, as expressed in his book, “How to Raise More Vegetables Than You Ever Thought Possible on Less Land Than You Can Imagine,” a copy of which I keep handy to read how closely I can plant various crops. Judy’s garden was based on the book, “Square Foot Gardening.” Jose’s garden includes lots of pots over his macadam driveway. You can see all three on the afternoon of May 19 in the Montclair, NJ garden tours (free). All have tremendous yields.
- Your first guideline in starting a garden is to add as much organic matter as you can. Montclair’s soil is full of clay. One recent visitor said she thought she could make sculptures from her soil. Composting is the best way to get organic matter. I compost all my garden, yard, and kitchen scraps and Fred brings me a ton of leaves most years from others’ curbs. There are many good ways to compost that I won’t discuss here, but the process turns dead organic matter into great-smelling soil. Getting it into YOUR soil is another story. [See this related Snappy Gardening post for tips to improve your soil.]
- Start easy crops first. Tomatoes, beans, and peas are good, but it’s a bit late for peas.
I like Roma bush beans, which I can repeatedly sow during the season. Almost any type of tomato will thrive with a beginners’ touch. Or not. Some years ago I noticed a tomato seedling on the front of my north-facing house in soil that I had not improved. “You silly thing. You can’t grow there with no sun or good soil.” But it defiantly did anyway. “Okay, then I’ll give you a cage.” I did, and it bore tomatoes! Not as many as in the good garden, but enough to enjoy. Its progeny has continued every year since [Kathy’s tip on tomatoes: go small – Moby Grape tomatoes are excellent] Don’t try root crops, including carrots, your first year. Your soil won’t be nice to them yet. Leaf lettuce doesn’t need deep soil and can stand quite a bit of shade.
- Expect death in the garden. It’s part of life. The gardener buries her mistakes and nobody else cares. Occasionally, I mourn for a plant, but unless it was brutally killed by some invader, nobody else ever expresses sympathy so I don’t ask for it.
Have you ever considered growing your own indoor vegetable garden?
Growing your own garden and eating your own vegetables can be very fun and rewarding, but if you don’t have the outside space to grow your vegetables in, then creating an indoor garden can be a good alternative.
There are several incentives to growing an indoor vegetable garden. For one thing, there are fewer weeds to deal with. You also lose the risk of animals such as deer and rabbits getting into your garden. You can also garden without worrying about getting hot and sunburned, which is the biggest incentive for some people.
Read More: How to Start Your First Indoor Garden?
To grow indoor vegetables, you will need some sort of container
Remember that plastic containers get hotter than ceramic containers, although plastic is almost always cheaper. No matter which option you go with, however, there must be a drainage hole at the bottom of the container. You can use a sharp object, such as an ice pick, to create a hole if there isn’t already one there.
The soil that you choose should be lightweight
Once you have the soil and you have cut a hole in your container, if you needed to, then you can add the soil to the container. Don’t pack the soil too much or else there will be problems when it comes to drainage and root development. There should also be some space at the top for watering purposes, too.
Although you will be planting them indoors (growing vegetables indoors in an apartment or home indoor gardens), it’s a good idea to stick with the same basic principles as outdoor gardening when it comes to when you should plant your vegetables. On the other hand, it’s much easier to start your indoor vegetable garden from seeds because you won’t have to worry about the weather conditions as much.
Once your seeds start sprouting, it is important that you thin them. You can also start your plants from sprouts, o begin with, which some people prefer because the results are more instantaneous.
There are a variety of vegetables that are easy to grow indoors
Some vegetables that are good options for indoor vegetable growing include bush beans, lettuce, sweet peppers, hot peppers, endive, radishes, small-rooted carrots, small-rooted beets, short-vined cucumbers and squash, spinach, and eggplant. Cherry tomatoes are one option because as you pick the tomatoes off, they continue to grow back. Herbs are another popular item because they fit well in containers-even small ones.
It is also important to remember that plants that are grown indoors need more care than those grown outdoors because they are completely dependent upon you, and not the natural elements. Plants dry out quickly in containers so they must be watered more frequently. Smaller plants might even need to be watered twice a day.
If you are planting plants that are leaf-based, such as lettuce, then it’s a good idea to plant them in rooms that have cool temperatures. They do well in areas that don’t get much above 60 degrees Fahrenheit in the daytime and don’t get lower than 30 degrees in the night.
Most plants need at least 6-8 hours of sunlight per day. If your abode does not receive this, then you might want to consider getting a fluorescent light to help supplement your natural light. In addition, you will have to pollinate your plants manually. This can be accomplished by using a paintbrush.