Veggie Garden: Dos and Don’ts
Last year as we complied with stay-at-home guidance, one of the trends that developed was the resurgence of the home vegetable garden. It was beautiful to see people carving out sunny corners of their yards and patios to try their hand at home-grown tomatoes and fresh herbs.
The trend in home gardening continues this year, and many homeowners are feeling more confident with a bit of experience under their belts. Whether you’re brand new to growing veggies or are a seasoned pro, here are some “Dos and Don’ts” to help you create the potager of your dreams.
Veggie garden “Dos”:
Start small. While you may have visions of a large garden as seen on Pinterest, you can grow a lot of food in a 4’ x 4’ plot. Create a manageable space that you can maintain.
Check your zone. Watch for growing times based on where you live. Your friends to the north or south may be planting at different times, so check your specific USDA Zone or ask for help at the garden center. Planting too late or too early can lead to problems and disappointment.
Know your dirt. Soil is a plant’s main nutrient, and not all soil is the same. Most likely, you will need to add to your soil, depending on its condition. Plan to add compost or store-bought topsoil to rejuvenate the area.
Know your H2O. It’s best to water your garden with a soaker hose to reduce opportunities for leaf rot and other issues. Morning watering is ideal as the plants will take what they need, and the sun will help evaporate excess. If you are growing vegetables in containers, keep in mind they will need water more often in hot temps, so you might need to water morning and evening.
Plan to fertilize – safely. Even with the best soil, plants will do well with regular fertilizers designed for vegetables and herbs. Whether you’re going organic or conventional in your garden, you need to research your options for feeding your plants throughout the growing season.
Veggie garden “Don’ts”:
Don’t over-pack your area. Vegetables need space to thrive, along with water and solid nutrients to grow. Resist the urge to pack your garden too tightly as overcrowding will cause insect issues, and you’ll need to water more often. Plus, healthy plants will need room to produce and spread out.
Don’t skimp on supports. Tomatoes, beans, cucumbers, and other veggies need supports so they don’t topple under the weight of their produce. Do yourself a favor and put support in place when you plant.
Don’t ignore bugs. Some insects like bees and ladybugs are beneficial to your garden, while aphids can play havoc. Companion plantings like marigolds can help deter pests, as can basil and other herbs. Avoid chemicals and opt for organic solutions – after all, you will be eating what you grow!
Growing vegetables can be fun for the whole family and a great way to teach children about where their food comes from. While you may not grow the prize-winning tomato on the first try, there’s nothing like the taste of bounty from your own backyard!