Digging your garden beds
Work in small sections, breaking up large clods of soil as you work, and use power tillers to grind the soil. Digging can of course be done by hand but it’s very tedious and back-breaking work.
Once the soil has been loosened you can spread fertilizer or compost and gradually work them into the soil. This can be tough work if you do it by hand, but the more thoroughly you work the soil, the better your results will be later on. Use planks or pieces of plywood to distribute your weight, and avoid stepping on freshly tilled soil as much as possible otherwise you’ll compact the soil and undo all your hard work.
After digging, smooth the surface with a rake and then water thoroughly, and allow the bed to settle for few days before planting.
Seeds or Seedlings?
Some vegetables can be grown by simply putting seeds into the soil, such as carrots and beans by which you place seeds at the recommended depth, water thoroughly, and then wait for the plants to flourish. Planting extra seeds will account for some not germinating, and any thinning out can be done after the plants are up and growing.
Many vegetables can be started early indoors or purchased already to plant and the benefit of this is that you can have a crop ready to harvest several weeks earlier than if you start with seeds in the ground. All information is given on seed packages.
Care and feeding
Water your crop when the top inch of soil is dry. Remember that raised beds drain faster and may require watering every other day, and don’t allow the crop to stand in water. Stay on top of weeds as they compete against plants, and hand fork regularly to dis-courage seedlings. Mulching or adding compost can keep weeds at bay around larger plants.
Whether you choose Organic gardening or normal, it’s important to add fertilizer at planting time but remember to follow the directions on the container, and don’t apply more than recommended, as this can often decrease the yield.
Pests and diseases
Gardeners will sadly always face the age old problem of pest and disease management, but you can do much to keep things under control.
Helpful hints are listed below
Always ensure fences are firmly secured and buried several inches under the ground to deter rabbits. Use covering, or row covers, which are usually lightweight plastic or polythene sheeting which guard plants against light frosts and various insects.
- Try to grow varieties that are listed as disease-resistant, and visit websites or garden catalogues that offer advice on this area.
- To reduce fungal diseases, water the soil but not the leaves of plants. If you use a sprinkler, do so in the day so the leaves will be dry by nightfall. If a plant does fall prey to a fungus, remove it immediately and discard it on the rubbish tip.
- Hand pick and dispose of caterpillars from your plants, leave them in a pile hoping the birds will feast on them instead.
- Use insecticidal soap sprays for safe control of listed pests and be certain to read the labels carefully.
- Use crop rotation for different locations as by doing so this reduces the chance that pests will gain a permanent foothold in your garden.
- A golden rule to remember! With many vegetables, the more you pick, the more the plant will produce more harvest.
This is the fun part where you can reap your rewards. Remember, the more you pick, the more you’ll get from the crop. Many vegetables can be harvested at several stages, and lettuces can be picked as a very young crop as the leaves will be sweet and tender. If you pinch out the leaves it will continue to grow and produce, and a guideline is that if it looks good enough to eat, then pick it and enjoy the crop.