Have you ever wondered how to grow big, hearty tomatoes, luscious eggplant or mouth-watering onions? With proper planning, growing vegetables is now easier than you might think. The vegetable garden of today is vastly different than that of past generations. Gone are the days of repeated watering and fertilizing to grow meager vegetables; here are the days of using drip irrigation and season-long fertilizer to create a big, bountiful harvest.
To get your garden started right, choose a planting site that receives at least six to eight hours of sunlight a day. Equally important is soil that drains well and is full of organic matter. If the garden site is deficient in organic matter, nurture it by applying three to six inches of peat moss or compost over the existing soil.
Then, till or spade all materials to a depth of eight to 12 inches. Vegetables come in all sorts of varieties. Some will grow better in sun than in shade. Other vegetables grow better in the northern part of the country than they do in the south, west or east.
Do you plan to grow large vegetables or are you interested in growing miniature vegetables? Will you be starting from seed or with a seedling? If you’ve chosen a vegetable plant that spreads, do you have enough room for it to do so without choking off the other vegetables in your garden? These are all important thoughts to consider when contemplating what vegetables you will grow and where you’ll grow it. Then, select the vegetables for your garden.
Nurseries and garden centers stock a wide variety of seedlings that can be placed directly into the garden soil. Set seedlings just slightly deeper than they were in their original container. If you choose to grow vegetables from seed, ask a garden center representative to recommend planting depths for each type of seed.
Also, be sure to place each plant or seed eight to 10 inches or more apart to allow for room to grow. Whether you start from seedling or from scratch remember to read the directions.
Once the site and soil are ready for planting, and you’ve decided what vegetables you will grow, take a step back to visualize and plan a row system for the vegetables.
Before planting, consider installing a drip irrigation system between the rows to regulate moisture in the garden. A simple drip irrigation system can be installed in a small garden in an afternoon with little or no digging. The system uses flexible polyethylene tubing and drip emitters to dispense water to plants in droplets and fine streams. The tubing is usually buried or covered with mulch to hide it from view.
Also, because drip irrigation operates in gallons per hour, versus the gallons per minute associated with sprinklers, gardeners will reap great vegetables and significant savings on their monthly water bills. Once planted, apply a balanced fertilizer, one that is rich in the nitrogen, phosphate and potassium needed to produce vigorous plant growth. Look for a time-release fertilizer that will dispense nutrients throughout the entire growing season.
Also, check planting instructions for each vegetable to determine if it has additional fertilizer needs. Now that you know the secrets to growing bountiful vegetables, it’s time to put them to use. The result will be a cornucopia of delicious delights for you and your family.