Everything You Need to Know About Starting a Vegetable Garden

Develop a practical plan

The first step in growing a healthy garden is determining where you want the beds to be. To determine the best setup for you, consider the size, shape, and location of your garden. Remember that it can always be changed later if necessary.

Plant in raised beds with rich soil

Expert gardeners agree that improving soil quality is the single most important factor in increasing yields. A deep, organically rich soil promotes the development of healthy, extensive roots that can access more nutrients and water. As a result, above-ground growth is extra-lush and extra-productive.

Round out the soil in your beds

The shape of your beds can also have an impact. Raised beds are more space-efficient when the soil is gently rounded to form an arc. A rounded bed with a 5-foot wide base, for example, could give you a 6-foot-wide arc above it. That foot may not seem like much, but when multiplied by the length of your bed, it can make a significant difference in the total planting area.

Consider worm castings

Worm castings, also known as poop, are a natural fertilizer that can boost plant growth. It also aids soil retention, which is essential for a healthy vegetable garden. As you turn and break up clumps of soil, work in the worm castings. If you don’t already have a lot of earthworms in your soil, be generous with the castings. Your local garden store can advise you on how much to add.

Aim to plant crops in triangles rather than rows

Pay attention to how you arrange your plants to get the most out of each bed. Planting in squares or rows is not recommended. Instead, plant in triangles to stagger the plants. This allows you to fit 10 to 14% more plants in each bed.

Just be careful not to crowd your plants together. When plants are crowded, they may not reach their full size or yield. One study found that increasing the spacing between romaine lettuce plants from 8 to 10 inches doubled the harvest weight per plant.

Try climbing plants to make the most of space

Vertical gardening allows you to grow more in any size garden. Grow vining crops that require a lot of space, such as tomatoes, pole beans, peas, squash, melons, and cucumbers, straight up, supported by trellises, fences, cages, or stakes.

Vertical vegetable growing also saves time. Harvesting and maintenance are sped up because you can see where the fruits are. Because of the improved air circulation around the foliage, fungal diseases are less likely to affect upward-bound plants.

Know how to time your crops well

Over the course of a growing season, succession planting allows you to grow more than one crop in a given space. Many gardeners can thus harvest three or even four crops from a single plot. For example, after an early crop of leaf lettuce, plant a fast-maturing corn, then more greens or overwintered garlic — all within the same growing season. To get the most out of your succession plantings.

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