As the weather gets warmer, you’re likely looking forward to spending more time in your outdoor space. And as the sun begins to shine more throughout the day, now is the perfect time to plant that backyard vegetable garden you’ve always dreamed of.
However, from soil selection to seedlings, planting your own vegetable garden can quickly flip from fun to overwhelming. But have no fear – with a few of these expert tips and tricks, you’ll be set up to plant a thriving vegetable garden in your own backyard – no green thumb required!
Set it Up to Face South
The sun rises in the east, and sets in the west, so for the proper amount of light to fuel your seedlings with the energy they need to grow, plant your garden facing south. This will ensure your garden gets adequate sunlight, without it being too harsh during the hotter summer months.
Layer Your Soil
If you’re just getting started gardening, you may not want to invest quite yet in raised garden beds or built-ins. For the simplest start, layer compostable soil on top of existing dirt and soil in your yard, and plant your seedlings on top.
Also be sure the soil you purchase is specifically designed for growing vegetables and herbs to ensure they get the nutrients, phosphates, and minerals they require to grow.
Skip the Seedlings
There’s absolutely no shame in skipping the seedling stage of growing your vegetable garden. In fact, by heading to your local nursery or hardware store, you’ll find that you can purchase small vegetable plants that have already grown a bit in a greenhouse.
They’ll still need to be planted, watered, and given plenty of sunlight to reach maturity, but by purchasing pre-grown plants, you’ll get a head-start in your garden without having to go through trial and error of sprouting seedlings from the start.
And on that note…
Not all vegetables can grow year-long, so be sure to select those that align to the time of year that you’re planting. Neglecting to do so can result in vegetables that grow to taste bitter, or can’t ripen at all.
“Cool-season” vegetables, like peas, lettuce, and broccoli, prefer cooler weather to grow – meaning they should be planted in early spring or fall. On the other hand, “warm-season” vegetables, like tomatoes, squash, and cucumbers, shouldn’t be planted until the soil has warmed up fully in late spring and summer.
Mulch to Lock in Moisture
Keeping your vegetable garden moist (but not overwatered) is key to its survival, especially throughout warmer months. Newly seeded beds require frequent watering to grow, while more established crops can get by on one to two inches of water per week.
To best converse water, experts recommend mulching the top layer of soil with straw or shredded leaves, which, along with locking in enough moisture, also helps suppress weeds.
Protect Against Pests
Pests can be the number one culprit of a failed garden (you’re dealing with the outdoors, afterall!). Pests weaken plants and take their nutrients away, which slows down their overall growth and production. However, you can protect against them while saving your edible garden from harmful chemicals by using a few natural remedies.
Floating plant covers, handpicking, and even spraying your plants with a mixture of peppermint essential oil and water can be effective ways to naturally reduce pest damage and infestations in your vegetable garden, without having to turn to harmful chemicals found in store-bought pesticides.
Remember, just like people, gardens thrive when given the love and attention they need to grow. Through proper watering and patience, your garden will be producing fresh vegetables in no time. Happy Harvesting!