Organic vegetable gardening is extremely beneficial. Whether you live in the city, countryside, or suburbs, you can easily enjoy homegrown vegetables.
This article answers all the basics if you are looking to know how to start a vegetable garden at home in a simplified manner.
The following are the steps on how to start a vegetable garden:
1. Start small
If this is your first time creating a vegetable garden at home, we recommend you start small. If you do not start small, the worst thing that could happen is you could bite off more than you could chew.
So even if you have a massive space for a garden, you can simply start with a pot or just a tiny patch in your backyard, to begin with.
2. Select the right site
Site selection is essential when looking to start. You require at least six hours of sunlight, preferably more, every day for your vegetables to grow properly. If you are not sure how much sunlight you can get, you can use a SunCalc, or a sunlight calculator to choose the right spot.
Avoid sites that snuggle up against tall trees, as their roots can affect the overall growth of your vegetables. If you have trees in your backyard or your front lawn, make sure you have a clear southern exposure.
3. Ensure a source of water
Another important consideration is your water source. You can utilize a hose bib or other irrigation systems to nurture your garden with enough water. The best kind of soil will be moist, drain well, and be full of nutrients.
4. Do a soil test
A significant part of your organic vegetable garden should have healthy, rich soil. To know how to have healthy soil for your gardening process, getting a soil test is essential. Soil tests will tell you exactly what your garden requires and what it already has. Healthy soil should form into a small ball when squeezed and should crumble when let go. If you are unsure of your soil condition, you can use a small pH test at home or send your soil samples to your local extension office.
5. Prepare your soil
The next step is to prepare your soil. You can prepare by using a tiller, a digging fork, or even a broad fork, depending on what you prefer.
If your soil is less compact, a broad fork or a digging fork can be substituted for tilling. All of this only requires to be done once, initially.
6. Add compost
Once you have tilled your soiled and worked it right with a fork, you are now ready to add some organic compost. Your compost must be full of beneficial microbes essential for the better growth of your vegetables.
7. Build the soil bed
The next step would be to build your soil beds by digging out extra dirt from the pathway and putting it right on the bed until your soil bed is almost 6-8 inches in height. Using raised beds will allow for a greater degree of soil control as well as drainage, especially in areas without optimum soil conditions. This is an important step on how to start a vegetable garden.
What beds work great?
3-4 feet wide soil beds are great to use for a home garden, rather than having narrower rows of, let’s say, 2-3 feet, like the ones on usual farmland.
Wider beds will give your plants’ roots more room to grow and spread their roots.
The next step will be to grade the bed. It is at this step that you can add some fertilizer, as per your soil test. Adding fertilizer is not essential, though. It is an optional step.
Lay down cardboard layers
To prevent weeds from growing in your pathway, you can lay down some cardboard or some newspaper in the pathway and water it so it gets heavy. Make sure the cardboard or newspaper you are using is overlapping.
After wetting down your cardboard or your newspaper, it is now time to add some layers of straw. Start by adding 2-3 inches of straw to your bed.
Wait for weeds to germinate out completely.
Now, water the whole garden area thoroughly. So far, the soil has been disturbed so much the weed seeds will come to the surface and germinate easily.
While you wait for weeds to germinate, you can set up your drip irrigation system on the side. This is also optional if you do not have a drip irrigation system.
Take the weeds out
A couple of days later, you can come back and start using a weeder rooter, a stirrup hoe, or even a collinear hoe to take the young weeds out. Repeat this process a few times before you plant your vegetable seeds.
Protect your garden
If you are working on your vegetable garden in the countryside or the suburbs, you need to protect your garden against deer, rabbits, raccoons, and other wildlife. Therefore, fencing your garden is essential. If you do not use a fence, you will donate all your hard work to the local wildlife.
A wired fencing is relatively inexpensive and extremely easy to install.
Now that you have your fencing ready, it is finally time to start planting your organic vegetable seedlings and seeds.
Ensure you are planting right
Create a grid in your garden to do planning and planting easier.
If you, let’s say, are planting peas in your backyard, stake them against a stick of bamboo from the beginning. When they grow tall, the extra support from the bamboo comes in really handy.
There are more things to keep in mind while you learn how to start a vegetable garden. Ensure you are planting taller plants away from the shorter plants. Planting them in opposite directions works just fine since the taller ones will not shade out the lower-growing plants.
Usually, the concept behind this depends on how your garden is oriented; either north, south, east, or west, you would want to plant the tallest plants towards the north and west side of your garden. This way, the taller plants will never block sunlight for the shorter ones.
Most seed packs will have planning instructions written on the back. Although, you will likely end up with more seeds in just a single pack than you can use in the entire season. This leads to the wastage of seeds. To avoid seed wastage, you must know that vegetable seeds can be used five years past their best use date. So you can plant your broccoli, cabbage, cucumber, kale, lettuce, peppers, radishes, sunflowers, tomatoes, and turnips for five years once you buy a pack of seeds.
Similarly, some vegetables are good for three years past their best use date. So, you can plant your beans, carrots, gourds, peas, pumpkins, and squash for three years once you buy the seeds.
You can only plant corn, onion, parsnip, and spinach once after opening a pack of seeds. Of course, this only works best if you are storing your seed packs in a cool, dry space.
Use the right fertilizer.
Using fertilizers to ensure your plants are growing well after being planted is essential. Liquid fish and kelp work well to help your plants thrive. Similarly, you can also use various other home-based options like eggshells, Epsom salt, and tea leaves to help the plants grow better organically. We hope these basic steps helped to learn how to start a vegetable garden.