Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Planting Vegetable Gardens in the City

Kitchen Garden, Shot Tower SquareImage by avlxyz via FlickrPlanting Vegetable Gardens in the City

Not a lot of people try planting vegetable gardens these days, especially not in the city. What with the busy lifestyle, constrained spaces, and pollution, it seems inconceivable that a vegetable garden would survive. The fact is, you can actually grow them even if you are smack in the middle of a busy city. It's only important that you get the basics of planting vegetable gardens right.

First things first. Soil preparation. This is one of the most basic things that any new gardener will have to learn. Whether you plan to use a plot of land in your backyard or start a vegetable garden in plant boxes, soil preparation plays an important role in whether your vegetable garden will survive or not.

There are three types of soil that you need to be familiar with; sand, clay and silt. Sandy soil is loose and helps the roots of plants breathe because it lets the air pass through easily. Clay soil absorbs water faster and keeps it inside longer, a soil composition that has more clay particles in it would be ideal for places that are too hot and the soil dries up quickly. Silt is a fine mixture of sand and clay particles.

When preparing the soil for your vegetable garden, dig up the soil and break off the lumps. Take out the rocks, roots, and weeds while you're at it. Check if you have just the right mixture of sand, silt, and clay before you begin planting vegetable gardens. Ideally, silt and sand should both be 40%, and clay should just be 20%, this is to make sure that the water isn't trapped inside too much that the roots will choke. Also, if the water is trapped too long inside the soil, the roots will rot.

One good way to test whether the composition of your soil is good is by scooping out a handful and forming a ball with it. The soil should hold the shape of a ball without too much difficulty. If the soil cannot hold the shape, you might have too much silt or sand in the mixture. If the soil holds the shape but does not crumble easily when you poke it, it might have too much clay in it which you need to balance out with a little silt or sand.

Once you have finished cultivating the soil where you want to plant your vegetables, pick what kind of vegetable you want to grow there. Keep in mind that some vegetables don't grow well when you plant them too close to certain types of other vegetables. Potatoes, for example, shouldn't be planted too close to squash or tomatoes because it inhibits their growth. They can be planted in the same garden, just don't plant them beside each other.

After you have decided on the kind of vegetables you want and planting them into the cultivated soil, you'll have to learn about how to water them properly. Vegetables need to be watered consistently. When planting vegetable gardens in a big space, you might want to consider using a soaker hose. A soaker hose has many holes along its body that waters your garden by letting the water seep through its holes.

Planting vegetable gardens require manual labor (yes, actual work), and a lot of patience. The rewards are very well worth it, though. Especially for people who are concerned about their health. Growing your own vegetables makes sure that there's the least amount of poisonous (and in the long run, carcinogenic) particulates in it as possible.


Happy gardening,
--Greg

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Monday, May 16, 2011

Plant Vegetable Gardens In Periods of Financial Difficulty

TomatoImage via WikipediaPlant Vegetable Gardens In Periods of Financial Difficulty

In periods of financial difficulty, planting vegetable gardens becomes a viable option that achieves two things: it helps the family reduce expenses related to buying food, and it offers the opportunity to sell excess yield to friends and neighbors. Starting a vegetable garden is not particularly difficult, for so long as you put enough thought, time, and effort.

Planting vegetable gardens can be a very rewarding endeavor, not to mention that it's good for your body because of all the exercise you will get, and the vegetables that you'll get to eat. These days, it's really ideal if you can plant your own vegetables to make sure that they're pesticide free, but a lot of people feel intimidated by the idea of planting vegetable gardens especially in a city.

Vegetable gardens are typically easier to maintain than flower gardens because vegetables are more resilient, especially in different types of weathers. Flowers are typically more delicate to changes in the weather, and don't adapt as easily. Planting vegetable gardens usually demand a lot of space, although some vegetables can also survive in plant boxes. It really depends on what kind of vegetables you will plant, and what you expect out of your vegetable garden.

How To
The first decision you have to make is the location of the vegetable garden. You must place this vegetable garden in an area where it is exposed to at least 6 hours of sunlight. The location must also be near where you will source the water you will use to water the plants. It must be near enough for you to make a short trip if you are carrying a pail of water, or it must be near enough to be easily accessible to the hose you will connect to a faucet inside your home. Also, check if the area has soil conducive for growing plants. It must have good drainage, and must be free of silt, stones, and other hard objects. Lastly, the location of your vegetable garden must be somewhere accessible, so that you can frequently check for pests and weeds when you walk by.

Included in your plans should be the sort of plants that you intend to plant, and how many of them you intend to grow. This will help determine the size of the plot you will need. Afterwards, make a list of all the plants you want to grow in your garden. This decision cannot be completely random, especially because the yield of the garden will be what you will consume as a family. Make sure to plant vegetables that your family would love to eat, or vegetables that you often use for cooking. This way, you are ensured of a direct benefit from growing your own vegetable garden.

Make a plan for the arrangement of the vegetable plants in the garden as well. The first consideration is the frequency of yield. Perennial plants, or those who yield vegetables for constantly throughout the year must be placed at the back of the garden, where it will be undisturbed by whatever gardening activities you may have in the rest of the garden. Put the crops that produce early yield together. These crops include radishes, spinach, carrots, beets, and the like. Make some space for replanting successively. Once these crops have seen their yield, you can plant in their place crops that produce yield later in the season.

The last consideration for arrangement is the reality that there are plants that cannot grow beside other plants. For instance, there are those plants that enhance the growth of another when planted together; there are those that inhibit the other. It is important to take into consideration which crops inhibit the growth of the other. For instance, potatoes are capable of inhibiting the growth of both squash and tomato plants. Broccoli also inhibits tomato growth. Beans, on the other hand, inhibit the growth of onions. Carrots also inhibit the growth of dill plants. This does not stop you from planting all these plants in the garden. This only acts as a reminder of which plants you should separate from the other when planting vegetable gardens.


Happy gardening,
--Greg

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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Long-term Plans for Planting Vegetable Gardens

vegetablesImage via WikipediaLong-term Plans for Planting Vegetable Gardens

A lot of people are beginning to see the benefits of planting vegetable gardens. It's usually healthier because you get to decide whether or not to use commercial pesticide on them. Since vegetable gardens are typically manageable in size because they're not grown for profit, it's easier for people to manage the plot without having to resort to using commercial pesticides. Vegetable gardens also assure you of fresh produce because there's no need to pick the vegetables and refrigerate it. Vegetables stay fresh as long as you don't pick it from your garden, except if it becomes overripe. Aside from health reasons, planting vegetable gardens is also economical because the produce is not going to be as expensive as those that you buy from markets or groceries.

People who have been successful in planting vegetable gardens usually know that you can't keep growing only one type of vegetable in a garden. It's usually more advisable to rotate crops instead of planting only one kind of vegetable year in and out. Rotating crops will make sure that the micro nutrients in the soil will be preserved, and that diseases will not build up in soil particulates.

Planting vegetable gardens take some careful planning on your part, and also an understanding on plant families to know which vegetable types are compatible with each other. These are some examples of groups that can be considered "compatible" and are safe to be rotated together:

Alliums - onions, leeks, shallots, and the likes Crucifers - such as radishes, turnips, broccoli, cauliflower, and the likes Brassicas - brussel sprouts, mustards, cabbages, kale and the likes Legumes - peas and beans Cucurbits - cucumbers, squashes, melons, etcetera Solanaceae - peppers, eggplants, tomatoes, and the likes Mescluns - arugula, endive, radiccio, etcetera

Rotating vegetables of the same family would also mean that (more often than not) they would be susceptible to the same kind of pests. This makes pest control a bit more manageable for you since you don't have to adjust to different types of pests for different families of vegetables.

Vegetables such as asparagus, rhubarbs, and other perennial vegetables must not be rotated. They should be planted separately because of this. The more hardy and semi-annual vegetables can be rotated yearly so that no family of vegetables is planted in the same bed for four years. If you have done some planning before planting vegetable gardens, a small plot would like similar to this: four beds for plants that can be rotated, and one bed for perennial, non-rotating plants.

It would also be ideal for people who planning on planting vegetable gardens to spread out the kinds of vegetables they plant so that they don't harvest too much of the same vegetable in one season. You wouldn't want to be stuck with too many cucumbers in one season, would you? Throughout the growing season, try and plant varying types of short-season vegetables so that you'll be assured of many different types of vegetables throughout the season.

If you really plan to get the most out of planting vegetable gardens, it's best if you do your research first. Check which plants go together, check whether you have enough space to rotate your plants, check which plants you can actually rotate to prevent poisoning and depleting the nutrients of the soil, and spread out the type of vegetables you plant so you won't have too much of the same thing for the whole planting season.


Happy gardening,
--Greg

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Monday, May 9, 2011

Laying Out and Planting Vegetable Gardens

Old houses with vegetable gardens in the villa...Image via WikipediaLaying Out and Planting Vegetable Gardens

As you start planting vegetable gardens it’s important to know how the garden will be laid out. The layout of your own garden will depend on what vegetable you want to grow, the planting space and if you would like to opt for companion planting. Here are some helpful tips on how to layout your own garden and start planting vegetables.

Sit Down and Plan
Before choosing a layout you need to decide on what type of vegetable you would like to grow and where you would like to plant them. Here are other factors you need to consider for your garden layout:

* Garden Space * Amount of Light in the Space * Drainage System * Soil Amendments * Type of Vegetable * Additional Space (if needed)

You should also think about whether you want to grow one type of vegetable like lettuce and tomatoes or if you want one type of vegetable with different kinds. Researching about the amount of light a certain vegetable needs and the amount of space that each need to be planted are both helpful facts to find out.

Make a list of vegetables you want to plant and find out the plant requirements of each and compare it with the garden space you have. This should give you an idea of where you want to plant certain vegetables in your space.

Choose your Garden Layout
There are three basic vegetable garden layouts and they are: rows, beds and “potager” style.

The most popular rows style of layout requires planting seeds in a row which could either mean planting one type of seed in a row or different seeds in a row.

The bed type of layout is similar the rows style but in a smaller level. This layout allows access to the plant beds from the exterior of the garden or as you walk through the garden path instead of coming from inside of the plant bed. This is particularly convenient to avoid stepping on the beds which tends to pack in the soil and makes it difficult to dig and aerate in the spring or fall. Plant beds are great ways to maximize a garden space and you can even use raised beds for easy gardening.

The most decorative style of layout is the “potager” which means kitchen garden in French. This layout is described as geometric which allows you to layout your garden in circles or arrange plants by color or even food type.

Consider Companion Planting
The idea behind companion planting involves planting different kinds of plants together so that they help each other grow. A perfect example of this is planting beans, corn and squash together which were commonly done by Native Americans. While the corn gives the beans a place to climb, the beans gives its three companions nutrients in the soil and the squash serves as a shade to the roots of the plants beside it. This not only prevents weeds from growing, it also saves up on water.

Other great plants for companion planting are onions, which scares slugs and aphids away, tomatoes, which grow well with carrots and basil, which improves the taste of tomatoes. Another example is horseradish and potatoes which when planted together give your potatoes protection from disease.

In planting vegetable gardens, this concept is certainly worth considering and if you want to get more information about it, you can do some research online or in your local library.


Happy gardening,
--Greg

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