Home Tip Tuesday: Tips for Growing a Vegetable Garden

Many novice gardeners dream of strolling into their backyards and picking a basket of fresh, delicious homegrown vegetables without ever breaking a sweat. What a nice fantasy! The truth is, gardening can be a season-long fight with pests, weeds and the elements that leaves your muscles aching and your water bill sky high. Fortunately, gardening is also one of the most satisfying and healthful projects you’ll ever taken on. Following a few basic tips can help reduce the work and increase your chances for a generous harvest.

Pick the Site
As with so many ventures in life, the right location can make or break success:

• Most vegetables require 6 hours or more of direct sunlight every day. Lack of sun results in weak, leggy plants that provide a little, if any, harvest. A sunny location will help ensure your hard work is rewarded with bigger, better tasting and more vegetables.

• Roots need rich, loamy soil that drains well in order to thrive. If the soil on your site is poor, don’t despair. Enrich is with compost and other amendments to improve drainage. Consider having your soil tested to learn exactly what it needs.

• Plant close to home. If you have to drag hoses and haul heavy bags of compost out to the wildest corner of your yard, you’re probably not going to maintain a garden as regularly as needed. Make sure your site is reasonably close to a water source and that you can store supplies nearby.

• If your site’s too low on the lot, it may flood during rains, too high, and strong winds may topple young plants or constantly dry out the soil.  Look for a location that’s flat, stable and easy to reach.

Pick Your Size
You don’t have to plant an acre to grow an abundant crop of vegetables. Small backyard gardens can provide bountiful amounts if planned properly. Providing vertical supports and choosing high-yield vegetables like zucchini and tomatoes will help get more bang for the buck. Placement is crucial in a small garden: tall vegetables like staked peas should be placed in back so they don’t shade the rest of the plot.

 If you do have the space and desire a grand garden, make sure you have the time not only to tend it, but to process the harvest. Are you willing to spend dozens of hours preparing all those bushels for canning, freezing and dehydration? Do you have room to store them? It would be a shame to let the fruits of your labor rot in the field because you underestimated the time involved.

Growing even a single pot of tomatoes on the patio can be a rewarding effort. Yard size may limit your garden, but it doesn't have to limit your enthusiasm.

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