When I think of spring, the first thing that comes to mind is planning and preparing for my vegetable garden. I’d like to share with you on this page some easy gardening tips that I have acquired over the years. These tips are nothing spectacular, or complicated. Just a few little hints that will help promote a healthier, more productive garden. If you’re a beginner, especially, I am hoping these ideas will be of help to get your garden started.
Yes, it really matters! The soil should be loose, so that is well-aerated in order to allow water and oxygen to reach the roots of your plants. Whether you are planting in a raised bed, as I do, or just clearing a space in the back yard, the soil should be dug to a depth of about 12 inches.
RECYCLE – REPLENISH
Good gardeners know that the soil needs to be replenished each year. Composting is a great way to replace the nutrients needed for good growth. My mother had a big composting barrel that she put all fruit and vegetable scraps, egg shells, coffee grounds, etc. in throughout the year. By planting season, she had nice rich soil to add to her garden. If you don’t compost, you can still add these things – just grind them up and work into the soil.
Well aged horse or cow manure is also great food for your garden. If you don’t live near a farm, though – be sure to at least purchase some good fertilizer. When I first built my raised garden bed, I began with top soil, then topped it off with several bags of vegetable potting soil. I “feed” it throughout the year with our used coffee grounds, and crushed egg shells. Another excellent additive for the dirt is ash from a fire. We dump the ash from our pellet stove into the garden all winter!
TIME TO PLANT – EASY GARDENING TIPS FOR HEALTHY PLANTS
I have learned over the years the value of creating a layout of my garden on paper before beginning to plant. Before you see the first sprouts, it will help to have this to refer to so you remember what should be growing where. A few tips to help in the arrangement:
Vegetables that grow tall should be planted on the northside of your garden in order to prevent them from shading the shorter crops. Medium sized vegetables should be planted in the center, and the shorter ones on the southern end.
A helpful tip for planting seed – use the bottom of a muffin pan to press an indentation in the soil. Voila! You have it all mapped out for you. Drop in the seed, cover it over, water, and you will produce nice neat rows.
When planting veggies that tend to “vine out”, such as squash, cucumbers, and pumpkins, be sure to leave enough room. In order to save garden space, you can train these plants to “climb” on something in order to prevent them from overtaking the rest of the garden. I use an old pallet which I prop up against the edge of the cement blocks that surround my garden. This directs the vines to crawl onto the pallet, leaving space inside the garden for other veggies.
LIMITED SPACE? TRY THESE EASY GARDENING TIPS FOR VERTICAL GARDENING
Since we’re talking about space limitations, you might consider vertical gardening for some of your vegetables. Cucumbers, Beans, Melons, or Squash do very well when trained to climb. Many vegetables can also be successfully grown in pots. I do this with lettuce, spinach, and cherry tomatoes. I plant cucumbers in a hanging basket off the edge of my deck. A quick salad is never far away! Even pole beans will flourish in a large pot – place a tomato cage over the plant so the beans can wind around it for easy picking!
Once the soil is ready – remember, loose and crumbly, all weeds removed, and fertilized, you are ready to set your plants.
TOMATOES & PEPPERS
I am going to focus on some easy gardening tips for two of my favorite fresh vegetables (ok, I know tomatoes are technically a fruit!) Beans, squash, carrots, onions, etc. – are pretty much “plant it and forget it” types. Tomatoes and Peppers, however, do require a bit of tender loving care.
HOW TO PLANT TOMATOES FOR A BUMPER CROP – MY EASY GARDENING TIPS
Tomatoes should be planted in a trench about 3 – 4″ deep. After digging your hole, try tossing in a fistful of Epson Salts, and then lightly cover over with dirt before setting plant. You don’t want the roots to touch the Epson Salts directly. As an alternative method, you can mix a Tbsp. of Epson Salts with warm water, and spray onto leaves of plants. This boosts growth by adding magnesium.
Lay each plant in the trench, gently lifting it so that just a few inches of the stem and leaves are above ground. Remove any leaves that would be buried. Don’t worry about the angled plant – it will correct itself in a few days. This method of planting will product a much stronger root system to support those luscious tomatoes later in the season.
For sweeter tomatoes, sprinkle the base of each plant with baking soda. (This lowers the acidity of the soil.) To boost plant immunity, crush a couple aspirin tablets in warm water, and spray plants on occasion. Remember the egg shells? Crushed egg shells can be tossed in the hole when planting, or spread around plants at any time to boost the Calcium levels. This also helps to prevent blossom end rot.
As tomato plants grow, be sure to prune them to keep the root base strong. I learned how to do it correctly by going HERE.
Finish off by using coffee grounds as a mulch. This holds moisture in to the roots. Get creative with your “mulch” – in a pinch, dryer lint works well to hold in moisture, and prevent “splash” when watering.
Peppers will also benefit from the Epson Salts when planting. Be sure to plant your pepper plants close enough that they will touch as they grow, but far enough to allow growing room. Adding ground up vegetable peelings and scraps to the dirt before planting will help provide the nutrients needed for healthy peppers. The mulching suggestions for tomatoes apply here too.
Easy Gardening Tips To Help You Care For Your Growing Garden
When watering your garden, it is important to remember that cold water over plants that have sat in a hot sun all day is never a good thing. It is preferable to water in the early morning, before the sun is hot. If you must water at night, do so after the sun has started to set, being careful to water at the roots. Of course the leaves of your tomatoes will get wet if it rains, but whenever possible getting the leaves wet should be avoided. Soak the roots until small puddles form. Do not saturate to the point of the roots rotting though. In general peppers and tomatoes will accept quite a bit of water.
OH, THOSE ANNOYING PESTS! (Try These Easy Gardening Tips To Chase Them Away!)
To help protect your plants or flowers from pests, plant Marigolds near them. French, African, or Mexican marigolds are the best for keeping those pests away. Planting Parsley near vegetables such as asparagus, beans, or carrots will also help to keep insects and other pests at bay. Plant some Sage, Rosemary, or Thyme near cabbage. Natural insecticides are best!
As mentioned earlier, rabbits are always a hindrance to a gardener. I found this homemade rabbit repellent on Pinterest recently. I can’t yet testify to it’s success, but I plan to give it a try this year! Go HERE for the recipe. And a tip to help keep all the little critters away that want to partake of your salad bar, “plant” plastic forks throughout the garden. This will make it difficult for them to get close enough for a bite. A simple, but ingenious idea! To help keep rabbits, deer, and other animals away, spread human hair in and around your garden. One sniff of a human, and they will back off! Your local hair salon will be happy to provide this to you.
I hope you have found this page to be helpful. Easy Gardening Tips are just that – simple ways to avoid problems and pests, and produce an abundant supply of fresh vegetables!