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Have you ever started cooking dinner and realized that you forgot to buy the herbs you needed for your recipe? Have you ever had a craving for a fresh salad but your produce drawer is bare? So, why not avoid the grocery store all together and grow your own? An at-home vegetable and herb garden is an easy and quick project that’ll have you enjoying the fruits (and vegetables) of your labor before you know it. Here are a few tips to get you started.
Location is Important
When deciding on the location for your garden, keep in mind that vegetables need at least six hours of sunlight per day to thrive. You also want your garden to be large enough to accommodate the correct amount of space needed for each plant. For example, if you’re planning on growing tomatoes, you’ll need a two foot area for each plant as well as tomato cages to keep them from falling over. Each plant needs a decent amount of space for their leaves, flowers, and root system to flourish. Lastly, be sure you have an accessible water source nearby to supply your plantings.
In order for your garden to be successful, the soil must be suitable with a good mix of organic soil, fertilizer, and composted organic matter such as composted leaves, grass clippings, or shredded bark. The organic, composted material keeps the soil balanced and keeps it from being too sandy or compacted. You’ll be able to tell if your soil mixture is healthy if it successfully binds together but can also crumble apart. If you find that the soil you’re starting with is more of a clay, you may want to incorporate some sand into the mix to mitigate the bonding nature of the clay. Think of it this way, you want your soil to be easily tunneled by earthworms.
Create a Schedule
We all know that plants need water to survive just as humans do, so creating a watering schedule is important if you plan on watering by hand. The best time to water your garden is in the morning or early evening, allowing the water to soak in and get to the roots before it evaporates from the heat of the sun. Typically, plants do well with one inch of water per week. They should be watered at the base of the plant, and avoid excessively watering. Drip systems or irrigation hoses are a great way to water, as they deliver the water slowly, allowing the roots time to absorb, soil to hydrate all while keeping the foliage dry.
When growing a garden, you’re sure to come across some pests that find your vegetables just as delicious as you do. Try and avoid using pesticides, as you’ll be eating the food you’re applying the chemical to. If you do need to use a pesticide, avoid applying it in the morning as it may harm the beneficial insects such as bees and butterflies that are there to pollinate your plants. In lieu of pesticides, you may want to plant some marigolds in your garden and add some ladybugs, as both tend to take care of the aphid population.
Everyone loves a good friend, right? Well vegetables are no different. Certain vegetables grow perfectly next to one another. Here are a few perfect companions to try out in your garden:
Basil and tomatoes
Beets and garlic
Broccoli and onions
Carrots and leeks
Corn, beans and squash
Cucumbers and peas
Radishes and spinach
Enjoy your home garden and tell us what you have planted for this spring!