Starting a vegetable garden: 6 tips to get started

In the countryside as in the city, more and more private land has a part reserved for the vegetable garden. This nurturing garden is generally expected to produce enough to meet the needs of its family, of course, but many home gardeners also cultivate for pleasure. Beginners come up against problems that are not insurmountable but for which the solutions are not obvious to neophytes. In order for the pleasure of having a vegetable garden to continue and for the efforts to pay off, it is better to start off on the right foot by following these few tips.

1 – A well-located vegetable garden

The vegetable garden must benefit from a sufficient sunlight. A south to southwest exposure is ideal for enjoying good early harvests. But the vegetable garden must also be well ventilated without being exposed to the prevailing winds. If this is the case, it is recommended to install a plant windbreak or to opt for an area of ​​the garden protected by a perimeter wall or why not by the house. It is necessary to avoid cultivating where the water stagnates because it is very detrimental to the crops. A flat vegetable garden is perfect, slightly sloping it is possible, but it is better that it does not have the shape of a bowl.

Finally, for practical reasons, and if you have the choice of location, it is interesting that you can grow your vegetables not far from a water point because it makes watering easier and saves valuable time.

2 – A reasonably sized vegetable garden

Novice gardeners frequently make the same mistake of embarking on an oversized vegetable garden. This represents a lot of work year round, expenses in significant water but also a significant budget to afford enough seeds, plants and phytosanitary products… Also, discouragement awaits these gardeners with eyes bigger than their stomachs who do not always have the necessary budget or enough free time to fully take care of their garden.

On the contrary, it is necessary remain Cartesian. Nothing prevents you from learning to garden with a square vegetable garden or mini vegetable garden. It is enough to tinker with one or two wooden structures of about 1.20 x 1.20 m and to have vegetables succeed without great demands, season after season.

And 50 m² vegetable garden is perfect to start since you can get your hands on it without spending too much time. We are of course planning another adjoining space which will allow us to enlarge our vegetable garden as soon as we have acquired a little experience. 100 m² require at least 1 hour of work per day. This is a sufficient area to provide year-round vegetables to meet the needs of a family of 4 people.

Between 250 and 300 m², we enter another dimension! This represents more work, namely several hours a day throughout the year or so. With such an area, harvests are abundant and often well above the needs of a family of 5. Admittedly, such a vegetable garden makes it possible to grow all the desired vegetables, even those that require a large amount of space, and in greater quantities. But for avoid waste and unnecessary workthis nurturing garden must really prove to be indispensable.

3 – A well-thought-out vegetable garden plan

The vegetable garden should be perfectly organized for convenience. The ideal is to create square or rectangular areas rather than round or heart-shaped! Better to stay in the conventional if only for make life easier when creating the small paths that will allow you to maintain your vegetables and harvest them easily.

The functional vegetable garden has a central aisle 80 to 90 cm wide to allow the passage of the tiller and the wheelbarrow and small alleys narrower, about forty centimeters wide, between the different cultivation areas that are called the boards. Vegetables should be affordable without the need to trample cultivated land. Ideally, all plantations are located no more than 55 cm from an alley, 60 cm at the most, in order to be accessible by stretching out your arm.

So that the alleys of the vegetable garden be passable in all weathersit is wise to put slabs. The clay is not the best idea because during episodes of heavy rain, they will be extremely muddy, therefore slippery and less easy to borrow. This can make harvesting difficult and gardening less enjoyable. It is indeed uninviting to get bogged down just to pick a bunch of parsley.

Finally, don’t forget to set aside a corner of the vegetable garden for compost and cultivate here and there, some flowers well known for being groceries such as the nasturtium or for their ability to ward off pests in a natural way, as marigold does very well.

4 – Associated vegetable garden plants according to their needs

It is very important to group vegetable plants by family because they have essentially the same behaviors and the same needs. At the beginning, it is necessary at least to know how to differentiate them according to whether one consumes the leaves, the roots or the fruits.

The leafy greens such as spinach, sorrel, cabbage, leeks and salads are very nitrogen intensive. The root vegetables such as carrots, parsnips, fennel, beets, sweet potatoes, celery, radishes represent a family that is content with less rich soil since the vegetables will draw their nutrients from the ground, deep down. As to fruit vegetables among which we distinguish the melon, the aubergine, the pepper, the tomato, the gherkin or the squash, they are gourmands which develop perfectly only in a rich ground.

To get off on the right foot when starting their vegetable garden, the novice gardener can start by growing the less greedy vegetables. He will gradually learn to distinguish the different natural fertilizers that the soil needs depending on what is planted there. All this knowledge cannot be acquired in a day, but gradually thanks to observation, and by gleaning advice from more experienced gardeners.

In any case, we never lose sight of the fact that the plants that we want to grow in the vegetable garden must be adapted to the local climate. This conditions success.

5 – Vegetables that are easy to grow

To get your vegetable garden off to a good start, it is better to select resistant species, undemanding but who are despite everything productive. It is always more encouraging to harvest many vegetables from your garden without having spent too much time tending them, or spending a lot of money trying to fight against countless diseases.

The good idea is to opt at the beginning for vegetables adapted to the display of the vegetable gardenwith average to excellent rapidity of development, having reasonable water needs, and whose cultivation difficulty is low. By taking into account these selection criteria, we learn to cultivate thanks to vegetables perfectly adapted to beginner gardeners. In this category we find, for example, carrots, radishes, cherry tomatoes, lettuce, potatoes, zucchini, spinach or even green beans. As for aromatics, the very young gardener can easily opt for thyme, parsley, chives, sage, basil, rosemary…

6 – A soil analysis before setting up the vegetable garden

We start by visually analyzing the soil of our garden. To do this, justobserve all the local plants which develop there spontaneously. They tell a lot about exposure, moisture content and many other soil characteristics. This can be acidic, neutral, sandy, clayey, calcareous, drained or not, poor or on the contrary humus… So many specificities that will impact the next crops. Observing the soil of the vegetable garden to learn more about its quality requires some experience to draw conclusions capable of directing the gardener towards the best solutions that will allow him to correct his soil if necessary. A laboratory analysis is possible but it comes at a cost.

It is not in a few weeks that the beginner gardener can learn all this. This is why when he wishes to create a vegetable garden, he must start by cultivating only vegetables adapted to this environment with its own particularities. There will always be time afterwards to thwart certain constraints imposed by nature, but remaining within reasonable limits. No need to want to grow bananas, mangoes or sweet potatoes in our mountainous regions or in the North of France…

The novice gardener can write everything down on a notebook and glean valuable information from experienced gardeners and local landscapers. This will allow him to learn more about what it is preferable not to cultivate there, but also about the solutions to the various problems identified.

Since we are starting our vegetable garden in spring, it is essential to anticipate because the soil must be worked a few months before and more precisely during the fall. You have to dig or plough, break up the clods, eliminate all weeds, stones, plant debris, add manure, rake, and mulch with cardboard sheets for example, then finally let the winter pass… When nature wakes upafter a few blows of the grelinette, the soil of the garden will then be ready to welcome semis et plantationsin greenhouses, tarpaulins or tunnels as long as the risk of frost has not been completely eliminated.

In any case, it should be remembered that a gardener often acquires great experience on the job. After failures but also successes and a few years of practice, he can finally boast of owning a lush vegetable garden in front of which walkers stop for pleasure. This is how the efforts made are amply rewarded.

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