Gardening Basics – Prelude to a Successful Gardening Adventure!

The Fundamentals are Key to a Sensational Gardening Adventure

Many times I have been asked, “How to grow a vegetable garden?”

My suggestion to beginner gardeners is to start small the first year…maybe a 75 to 150 square feet plot…or 4 to 6 containers…no more than 3 or 4 vegetables and, maybe a few herbs.  Tomatoes are a popular first choice.  Leaf lettuce, cucumbers, and green beans are also good.

You will grow confidence in your successes as a vegetable gardener and reap the benefits of your labor with each bite into your home-grown produce.  Next year, if you have additional space available,  you can add other types of plants.

 

P.L.A.N.T.

I grew up hearing P.L.A.N.T. constantly.

It’s an acronym my father pounded into me.  And, it has served me well throughout my gardening life:

 

Plan

What to grow in my garden

Plan your garden.

What vegetables and herbs do you want to grow that work well in your area and which ones do you enjoy?

Do you want to buy plants or seeds?  Plants can make your life easier but are more expensive than seeds.  If you’re doing container gardening or, only want a few plants, then this may be for you.  Inexpensive seeds are usually my choice.

What vegetables will need more space than others? (Think “zucchini”, which can overrun a very large area!)  Tomatoes also need at least 3 to 4 feet between plants and rows.

Will your garden be in-ground, raised, or in containers?

What is your garden layout? 

You don’t want to plant shorter plants in places where other taller plants might keep them from getting direct sunlight.  You should also try to rotate your garden, if possible, meaning…don’t plant the same plants in the same place every year because it may deplete the soil and you will spend more time and money spreading fertilizer.

 

Location

Where to put my garden

Where are you going to put your garden?
Look for an area that gets at least 6 to 8 hours of sunshine, preferably on the south side of your house.  If your plants stay in the shade all the time, their growth will either be stunted or the plants may grow 2 or 3 times higher than normal (trying to reach the sun).  The vegetables will be few and far between…and, they will not look healthy or be flavorful.

 

Area

What vegetable plants thrive in your neck of the woods?  Some may work great in other areas but not yours.

How big will your garden be?  I heartily recommend that beginner gardeners start with a small plot.  The successes will be smaller but…so will the failures…and, there will be much less chance to be discouraged.   As you gain experience and knowledge year after year, you can increase your gardening space and the variety of vegetables you plant.

 

Nutrients

What type of soil preparation will you need?  For in-ground or raised gardens, it’s a good idea to have the soil tested each year at least for the first couple of years.  Most counties have a cooperative extension service that will send your soil sample to a local university for testing.  The cost is usually around $8 or $10 and, in a couple of weeks, you will get a report detailing what type and how much fertilizer you should add to your garden and that will maximize your growing success.

 

Time

Snow will kill your plants!

When will you start planting?

A good rule of thumb is WAIT until after the last expected frost.  Freezing cold can kill your plants. 

Planting season can start as early as March and as late as the end of May.  Your local county cooperative extension can help with this.

How many hours each week can you dedicate to your garden?  Consider just some of the gardening tasks you will be doing:

  • Soil testing
  • Seed germination
  • Transplanting and hardening off seedlings –  I enthusiastically recommend using grow lights for transplanted seedlings.  The lights are a superior way to offer veggie plants more chlorophyll-producing illumination than limited sunshine through a window.
  • Tilling – Your soil should be soft and loose, so roots can easily penetrate. And, it should have good drainage, to guard against root rot and other plant diseases.
  • Planting and pruning
  • Weeding and mulching
  • Bug and disease control
  • Harvesting
  • Food preservation

As you browse through the pages of this website, you will find more detailed advice, information, and articles that will enhance your ability to cultivate a thriving garden.

 

Remember…grass is just a backyard vegetable garden in waiting!

Is the P.L.A.N.T. philosophy a part of your gardening technique?  Do you have other acronyms or tricks that are successful for your veggie growing?  Type a comment below and tell me about it!  You can email me as well: jim@perfect-vegetable-garden.com.

 

I came…I saw…and I gardened !

 

Jim

2 thoughts on “Gardening Basics – Prelude to a Successful Gardening Adventure!

  1. Jacqueline Reply

    Thanks for your post on gardening basics. I’m new to gardening but love the great outdoors and love to eat a healthy diet. What better way to do this than to do my own growing of fruit and vegs!!

    I planted 2 blueberry plants last year and they are now in full bloom. I’m not sure if I need to do anything further to them or just leave them let nature take its course.

    My worry is insects, pests etc feeding on them and killing the plant. I have read about using fungicides and pesticides but I want to use a natural remedy or something as natural as possible.

    My question is, what can I use that is ‘natural’ to prevent any disease occurring and also if I use it and the plant isn’t suffering from any illness, will it harm the plant? I’m trying to prevent anything from occurring rather than wait when it’s too late.

    Maybe I don’t need to do anything and I’m just being overprotective?
    Your advice will be most welcomed.

    Thanks!!

    • Jim Reply

      Rhododendrons are the best companion plants for blueberries and, they can tolerate the lower pH soil (between 4.5 and 5.2) in which blueberries thrive.  They will help keep the blueberry roots cool on hot, dry summer days.  Just make sure they are planted outside the blueberry root boundaries.

      Since location plays a big part in the variety of pests and diseases that attack blueberries, check with your local county extension office for the lowdown in your area.

      There are a number of natural controls for pests and diseases.  A good citrus fruit and nut orchard spray will aid in the prevention of several types of plant diseases.  But, identify the diseases and then you can pick the right remedy.

      If you go with a chemical treatment, read the labels very carefully.  Many insecticides used for pest control and fungicides used for disease control warn not to pick or eat the fruit for anywhere from 3 to 7 days after application.

      Jim

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