Growing vegetables is easier than you think. Here you will find all the gardening advice you will need to grow your own food.
Still not sure where to begin? Well let's start with some basics.
A vegetable plant has the same basic needs as we do: light, food, water, and warmth. The amount of each of these given to a plant will determine the success of your harvest.
How much sunlight is needed for growing vegetables?
Light is one of the most important elements in growing veggies and is probably the one that we have least control over. When growing vegetables consider the amount of light your area will be getting. Most vegetables need an average of 6 hours of sunlight. Do not be too concerned if your garden plot is in a shady area as leaf and root vegetables ( lettuce, peas, carrots, kale, swiss chard ) will tolerate some shade. Vegetables that produce fruit ( tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, squash ) are the ones that need full sun - but these can easily be grown in containers on a sunny patio. Container gardening is a wonderful way to grow your vegetables.
How does the plant get food?
The soil provides a place for plant roots to grow and to draw up nutrients. Plants need the following to grow - nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and micro nutrients. These nutrients are usually present naturally in soil however amending your soil regularly with compost and other organic matter will give you better results. Learn more about your soil here. Vegetables can be grown in poor soil but you may be discouraged by how they grow. When growing vegetables give them nutritious food and they will produce abundantly for you.
How much water does a plant need?
Vegetable plants need 1 - 2 inches of water each week especially from mid June to mid August. Too little water will not let plant roots grow deep and strong enough to gather nutrients for good growth. Too much water will saturate the soil, not allowing the plant air and space needed to grow. For best results it is important to know how much water your plants are getting. Observe your vegetables, get to know your soil conditions, keep an eye on the weather and learn which plants need more water than others. Is this sounding too complicated? Here is an easy way to measure how much water your garden is getting.
Watering Measuring Tip Place a small can in 4 different areas of your garden, turn on the overhead sprinkler for 1 hour and then measure the amount of water in your cans.
How often do you water?
Irrigate your vegetable garden twice a week, giving 1/2 the water requirement with each watering. It will depend on your climate but all of us will need to water our gardens at some point in the season. Container gardening has different rules for watering.
What is the best way to water?
Some plants ( lettuce, spinach, salad greens, swiss chard ) like to be sprayed to stay cool. Other plants are adversely affected by overhead watering ( tomatoes, squash, carrots ) because the water can cause fungus and disease on the leaves. Still other plants have such large leaves that overhead watering does not allow enough water to get to the roots broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower ).
Overhead sprinkling is probably still the most popular way of watering however drip, trickle or seeping hoses are becoming more common place now as well. I recommend using both as each are best for certain plants. If you have a small garden and hand water, it is easy to do both; spray the leafy vegetables and water around the base of the root vegetables.
When is the best time to water?
Before 11am or after 4pm. Let plants dry off before dark so they are less likely to get fungus or disease.
When growing vegetables why do they need warmth? The air and soil temperature is most important for seed germination. Some seeds do best in cool soil ( lettuce, peas, radishes ) others need warm soil (tomatoes, squash, corn) to grow. All plants need some warmth to grow, some more than others. We do have some control over this basic need as we can supply plants with extra heat using heating pads, cold frames, plastic or cloth covers.
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