How to Grow a Vegetable Garden – Vegetable Garden Tips
Vegetable Garden Tips
Generally speaking, when new gardeners want to know how to grow a, they start by growing vegetables too thickly and ardently, and keen gardeners, allow so much space between plants and rows that the vegetable garden is quite uneconomic. What is worse is that the resulting vegetables are usually big and coarse, hard to prepare and unsatisfactory to cook.
The most important factor and the best vegetable garden tips I can give you for successful vegetable culture, is quick growth, for this gives tenderness and flavour. This means that themust be good.
Although many plants do not need to be as widely spaced as is often recommended, it really is important to thin out all seedlings, even if you have sown thinly in the first place. You can cut out a certain amount of work in some cases by sowing at “stations” certain distances apart, rather than in a long unbroken line. A pinch of parsnip and spinach seed for example is best sown at intervals 4 inches apart. If you want whopper parsnips, make it 8 inches. Some people fill in the spaces between with radish for pulling long before the others crowd them, or with lettuce to thin out later. Remember that crowded root vegetables become stringy and tough.
Thinnings of all leaf vegetables may be transplanted, but not many people bother to transplant spinach or spinach beet. Thinnings of these, after all, can be cooked even if they are very small. Lettuce transplanted after late May and early June tends to bolt. It is best to sow thinly and thin out. If radish is sown with the lettuce, this helps to space out the plants by giving an indication of position.
You should always thin out when the soil is moist, after a shower is a good time. Press down the soil with the hand if it becomes disturbed. Look for the largest plants and thin out the puny ones among them. Do not thin out in one operation, because this disturbs the roots too much. Go back two or three times to thin, but do not leave too long an interval between this. Carrots, spinach and beet can be thinned first to one inch, then as the plants grow thicker and touch each other, alternate plants can be removed and so on.
Vegetable garden tips for plants which need to be strong and sturdy, such as all the brassicas, are that they usually should be moved two or three times, although it is possible to sow cabbage thinly, to thin out and to allow the plants to mature where they stand. This is a good way of ensuring succession, for the thinnings can be transplanted either from the row or first pricked out into nursery beds. When these have formed five or six leaves and a good fibrous root system, they can be planted in their permanent positions.
It is always difficult to know just how many seeds to buy. Some are sold by the ounce, half ounce or quarter ounce. After that they become packets of various sizes. Seed is cheaper by the ounce but usually far too much for a small garden. You could share packets with your neighbours, of course. You will probably be surprised to find just how many plants you have from a small packet. Here is a rough guide. Remember you need to save some seed from early crops for successive sowing. Do not try to save your own seed. It just is not worth it.
How to Grow a Vegetable Garden
For a row roughly 5o feet long (I am assuming that many of you will sow far too thickly!) you need 1/8 ounce lettuce, 1/6 ounce onion, 1 ounce parsley, 4 pint broad or runner beans and 1 pint French or haricot beans, 1 pint peas, 7 pounds potatoes, 4 ounce radish, 1 pound shallots, 1 ounce spinach and beet, 1 ounce turnip and swede, 1 ounce of sweet corn, 1 ounce carrots. Small packets of most other vegetables should do.
I fear that many of the rules forwere laid down in the past by people who worked under different conditions from today’s. We are often shown pictures of a drill for peas being drawn out by pulling a hoe through the soil, apparently very easily. My soil is not light enough for me to do it this way and neither, I suspect, is the soil in many other gardens. Consequently drawing a deep drill can be a lengthy as well as a hard job. I prefer to use my small border fork for this operation. I merely work along the line, removing the soil to the required depth and levelling the bottom of the drill with the fork as I go.
So long as the soil is prepared, you can by-pass many arduous and time-consuming jobs. Beans may be dibbled in. Potatoes planted with the trowel.
Actually, if you are prepared to spend a little extra money, potatoes can be set on the top of the soil and merely covered along the rows with black polythene, which should be weighted down with soil along its margins. When you see that the potato shoots are pushing up the plastic, cut a slit to allow the foliage to grow through to the daylight. This way you will not even have to dig the potatoes, or the whole root either, because you merely help yourself to the tubers lying under their black cover. I have grown potatoes successfully this way but I dislike it for two reasons. One, the plastic has to be renewed annually and I try to cut expense to the minimum when producing vegetables. Otherwise, you might as well buy them! So, I prefer to dig up the tubers, because this is often all the digging that the soil in the row area gets before a top crop follows the roots.
Actually, potatoes are not a very economic crop for a small garden. I grow no maincrops at all, just a few of the early varieties, because no potatoes one buys have quite the same flavour as those grown in one’s own garden and cooked with home-grown mint.
Although I always sow some onion seed, mainly to provide spring or salad onions, I also grow sets, small onion bulbs, for my main crop. These are far less work than seed and certainly more satisfactory for the amateur gardener. These sets and shallot “seed” (shallots, by the way, are vegetables you could hide among the) give one a good opportunity of getting the garden going early in the year. The green spears begin to show in about three or four weeks. Usually, one is advised merely to press the bulbs in the soil but they become moved, not by birds, but by worms and even slugs. Mine, grown now in a bird-proof cage, become moved as much as any which grow outside.
Try this as a way to avoid the nuisance of having to go back and press the bulbs into their original stations. Draw out a very shallow drill. Press the bulbs in this and cover all but the very tip and firm them slightly. The bulbs tend to lift themselves a little as they grow and finally you will find them at soil level.