Vegetable Gardening Tips for Beginners

a bowl of vegetables

Vegetable Gardening Tips for Beginners

Growing your own vegetables can be very rewarding. You know exactly where your food is coming from, and you get them in their freshest state. Studies also show that horticulture can be very therapeutic. It is a great stress-reliever, improves mood, and overall mental health!

The best part? You do not need a green thumb or a backyard to get started. Here are a few tips to help you start your mini garden in with whatever space you have available.

Consider Indoor Gardening

The best part about bringing your plants inside is weather control. Prevent frost, too much sun or drowning your plants from harsh weather conditions by taking them in the comforts of your home. You can also benefit from the additional oxygen the vegetables produce.

Use Small Pots and Hanging Containers

These are great space-savers. Small pots are easy to move around, especially if you’re trying to give your plants more sunlight than your apartment could provide, while hanging containers take whatever free space you have above your head. If you have a wall in your house that is getting a lot of sun, look into installing a vertical garden and save the paint on that wall from fading from prolonged sun exposure.

Start with Plants that are Easy to Care For

Salad greens and lettuce are some of the easiest produce to grow and can still thrive even in partial shade.  Cherry tomatoes are small, flavorful, can grow in hanging containers. Cucumbers and other climbing vegetables will work great with vertical gardening. Once you’ve gained some confidence, you can try growing some strawberries in small pots or grow a variety of root crops like sweet potatoes, radishes or turnips in small buckets.

Use Good Quality Mulch

One of the challenges of indoor gardening is keeping the dirt in your pots and out of your living room floor. Constant watering and moving your plants around will erode and take out the nutrients in the container that your vegetables need to thrive. Mulching keeps all the dirt in place. While organic mulch are very cheap and easy to acquire, it decomposes quickly and some materials emit a sour smell that can spread in your house. Rubber mulch can help keep all the soil in place while matching your home décor. Make sure you invest in the high quality rubber mulch that has been stripped off of metal pieces and fine rubber particles.

Do not underwater/overwater your plants

This may be easy to overlook and is the usual culprit behind your nursery not providing a good harvest or worse: dying before they bear fruit. Water your plants at least once a week, more if the season is particularly dry and hot. A good rule of thumb is to lightly scratch the top of the soil, if it crumble give your vegetables a good watering. If it’s still moist, give it a day or two to absorb all the moisture in the soil.

Vegetable gardening can be truly satisfying without the need for a lot of space, equipment or experience. All you need to start is a lot of patience for trial and error and some TLC as you wait for harvest season. Happy Gardening!

Sources

http://www.gardeningknowhow.com/edible/vegetables/vgen/vegetable-gardening-for-beginners.htm

http://lifehacker.com/the-seven-easiest-vegetables-to-grow-for-beginner-garde-1562176780

http://www.gardeners.com/how-to/vegetable-gardening/5069.html?SC=XNET9454

http://www.tastefulgarden.com/store/pc/Vegetable-Gardening-for-Beginners-d27.htm

http://learn.eartheasy.com/2014/09/6-unexpected-health-benefits-of-gardening/

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http://ahta.org/news/benefits-gardening-and-food-growing-health-and-wellbeing

http://edition.cnn.com/2011/HEALTH/07/08/why.gardening.good/

 

Five Creative Garden Party Ideas

table in a gardenSummer is almost here, so let the outdoor parties begin! A garden in full bloom or an immaculately trimmed lawn could already serve as pretty backdrops, but if you’re the creative type, you may want to up your outdoor decoration game a bit. Here are some great garden party decorating suggestions you could try for your next al fresco gathering.

 

Tell a little gardening story with your menu

 

Are you serving salad with ingredients from your own herb or vegetable garden? Tell the story of how they were lovingly planted and harvested with your guests in mind. You can make a short description of the salad in the menu by adding that they were grown in your own backyard. You can also serve up food buffet-style and label each dish with a framed text of how they were picked and prepared.

 

Intersperse potted succulents with cupcakes

 

Cupcakes and cacti: never the twain shall meet? On tiered cupcake holders, they can. Give your dessert table a fresh twist by arranging your favorite succulents in-between cupcakes or other sweet treats you are serving. If cactus isn’t your thing, you can place fresh flowers, instead.

 

“Float” flowers and candles in water as a centerpiece

candles floating in water

For romantic candle-lit dinners, look no further than your own flower beds for inspiration. Put some water in a long shallow dish – just enough to make votive candles and cut flowers float. You can also use bowls or other clear containers. The harmony of velvety petals, soft lighting, and reflections on the water will create a calming effect on guests.

 

Put up little canopies all over your garden

 

What is summer without a little picnic? Even a small shade is welcome if the sun is shining too brightly. Don’t worry if your garden or lawn doesn’t have trees: a piece of canvas stretched out with rope over your picnic spot should do the trick. You can also use beach umbrellas to provide shade for your guests.

 

Serve up fruit kebabs in a rainbow pattern

shish kabob

Fruits are sweetest and at their most succulent in the summer. Shine a spotlight on their juiciness and bright colors by serving them up in skewers at your party. You can follow a rainbow pattern by using strawberries or cherries first, followed by orange slices, then pineapple chunks, kiwi, blueberries, and grapes.

Organic Mulch vs. Inorganic Mulch

rubber mulch and wood mulch

Organic Versus Inorganic

Because organic mulches decompose, they need to be replaced.  Depending on the type of mulch used, replacement intervals vary from one to four years.

Biodegradable mulches

These break down gradually to release nutrients into the soil and help improve its structure. Layers will need replacing when the material has fully rotted down. Among the best materials are leaf mould, garden compost, spent mushroom compost, wood chippings, processed conifer bark, well rotted manure, straw (for strawberries), spent hops (poisonous if eaten by dogs) and seaweed.

Replenish mulch when there’s 1 inch or less of it. How often you need to replace it depends on how fast the material decomposes, exposure to the sun, temperature, the amount of rainfall, and the length of your growing season. Generally, I top off my mulch once a year. To keep from disturbing the soil, simply add another layer to the existing mulch.

Recycled rubber mulch is an attractive, durable alternative to traditional wood mulch, and can save money over time. Replacing mulch every year becomes time consuming and expensive. Compared with the expense of annually applying wood mulch, the up-front purchase of rubber mulch actually costs up to 65 percent less over a nominal five-year period.

Permanence

Organic mulches require annual replacement because they break down and decompose, eventually adding organic matter and nutrients into the soil. Bark and wood nuggets must be maintained at a depth of 2 inches to provide the best benefits, so fresh mulch must be added on top at least once a year to maintain this depth.

When to replace mulch in the garden depends a great deal upon the type of mulch and what you want to accomplish. Winter mulches should be removed in spring, after the danger of frost has passed, while summer and spring organic mulches are generally replaced annually. Many gardeners wait until after they prune to replace the mulch so that pruning cleanup and mulch replacement is combined into one task.

Maintain mulch. Replace mulch as needed during the growing season to maintain the 2- to 4-inch depth. Rake up and replace organic mulch in the spring, especially around roses and fruit trees.

 

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