Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Gardening Article: Beginners Guide: Vegetable Gardening

Gardens are a marvelous way to spend time alone, bond as a family, or simply enjoy a home-grown harvest. At first, having a garden may seem daunting, but it's primarily an issue of having the right tools, and not allowing weeds to gain control.

As with any project, there are specific tools that are needed for the job. The first tool needed is the tiller. This may be rented, and its use in digging up the earth for the garden is invaluable. Next on the list is a spade. This handheld shovel assists in planting seedlings and digging up weeds by the roots with very little disturbance of the vegetables‚ roots. Hoes help to shape the rows and are of great assistance in weeding and managing the earth surrounding the plants. A shovel helps with breaking clumps of earth, creating and expanding rows and dealing with larger plants or heavier soil. Gloves are useful for protecting hands from irritants and kneepads can be very soothing to tired knees. (A garden shed may be a useful place to store the majority of these tools and equipment).

When choosing a spot for your garden, look for a fairly large level area with approximately six hours of sunlight. A 10 feet by 16 feet plot near the house, but at some distance from any trees, is excellent. The soil needs to have good drainage and few rocks. If your soil is primarily clay, a bit of sand mixed in when tilling will alleviate the clumping problem. Depending on the richness of the soil, fertilizer may be needed either when tilling, planting, or periodically. A local nursery or farm bureau will be able to guide you to precisely what your soil needs.

When preparing the garden for planting, the plot should be tilled two times before the final frost. Digging out the rows with a shovel and then using a hoe for mounding the soil where the plants are to be planted is tiring, but can be completed in a day. The rows of a garden should be wide enough to easily walk through and kneel to weed or tend to plants without endangering surrounding rows.

Even before the vegetables are planted, there is something else to consider: weeds and pests. How one deals with these will do a lot in determining the ease and enjoyment of gardening. For weeds to be killed before they grow, light must be cut off from soil surrounding the vegetable plants. The most aesthetically pleasing method is mulch. Other alternatives are straw, whether fresh or fertilized from your local farmer, and black weed fabric. Black weed fabric may be used for several years, is extremely effective, and fairly low profile. If one is not intent on organic gardening, pesticides such as Sevin will do much to keep vegetables lovely and unbitten. Some organic methods of handling pests are spreading coffee grounds around plants, planting a few rows of basil or marigold, or using a Spinosad-containing spray.

Five tomato plants, four zucchini plants, six pepper plants, plus a row each of cabbage, bush beans, lettuce or mixed salad greens, pumpkins, corn, onions, carrots, and potatoes should be plenty for the gardener with enough left to store and share. The beginner will most likely find that purchasing seedlings from the local nursery is the most effective and streamlined approach to planting the garden. Later, when experience has emboldened the gardener, seeds may be purchased and started at home under a growth light. Always plant as seed packet or nursery prescribes.

Many find gardening a pleasantly absorbing pastime. Enjoying, sharing, bragging on, and storing the harvest are certainly delightful ways to finish months of time well spent.

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About the author: Arron Brown is a gardening writer for Tiger Sheds. Tiger Sheds have a blog on their website which is regularly updated with gardening related content. To view more about Tiger Sheds and their gardening resources please visit Tiger Sheds.

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