7 Tips to Make Vegetable Gardening Easier Than You Think
It's no secret that more and more people are looking for ways to stretch their dollars, so this may be the year to consider planting a vegetable garden.
"Planting a productive and relatively fuss-free garden may be easier than you think," said Howard Rossiter, a garden department manager in Fullerton, Calif, "And you'll likely be rewarded with armloads of vegetables from spring through early fall."
The trick, said Rossiter, is careful planning and making the best use of space.
For beginners or veterans, he offers the following tips for successful vegetable gardening:
- Sunshine is essential for healthy veggies. Locate your garden where it will get at least six hours of sunlight a day/ In partially shady locations, you'll probably have more luck with leaf crops like lettuce and spinach than with sun-loving tomatoes and melons.
- Till the soil and improve it with generous amounts of compost, sphagnum peat moss or other organic matter. If the soil in your area s mostly clay, add some sand to improve drainage.
- Get maximum yields in minimum space by inter-planting quick-growing veggies such as bunching onions with slower growing crops like broccoli and cauliflower.
- Plant crops in wide rows instead of single file. You will get bigger harvests of spinach, lettuce, green beans, peas and Swiss chard this way.
- Don't overplant. Choose veggies you know you and your family will enjoy and get twice the harvest by second-cropping in one piece of ground. For example, plant quick-growing spring veggies like lettuce and spinach in the same bed. When they are harvested, replace them with a summer crop of green beans or summer squash.
- Save space and increase yields by growing crops up and over a trellis when possible. Pole beans and cucumbers thrive above the ground and leave more ground space for tomatoes and other crops.
- Save water and minimize watering chores with a drip irrigation system, and include a timer if possible. Otherwise, water early in the day and be sure you are keeping the root zones of your plants moist.