Crop rotation is perhaps the single best way to fight disease and pest problems that can plague your vegetable crops. Ideally, you will have several separate areas, beds, patches, or sections in your garden so that you can rotate your crops around in order to prevent the same crops from being repeatedly grown in the same place. This also gives your soil a chance to recover each season.
First of all, “bargain bin” seeds are no bargain. If you see packets of vegetable seed marked down to a ridiculously low price, ask yourself why they’re marked down. It might be that the retailer is trying to get rid of seeds that didn’t sell well (maybe rutabagas aren’t all that popular in your area and the retailer bought too many wholesale, for instance)…but chances are, they’re old seeds that may or may not germinate when planted. Look at the date on the seed packet, and if it’s last year, don’t buy them. Only buy seeds that are meant to be planted this year.
One of the best things you can do for your brand-new garden before you plant a single seed is to double till your patch. We don’t mean till it twice along the surface, we mean till it twice as deep. About 2 feet deep. Urban and suburban soil has been covered with lawn, compacted and neglected below the surface. If you want a bountiful harvest from fertile soil, you have to peel off the lawn and dig deep to bring your soil back to life.
If you’re going to spend the money on the proper tools for your garden, you will certainly want to make sure and take excellent care of them while they’re actively being used, and properly clean and store them while they are not.
Your garden design will depend a great deal on the space you have available. If you have a large yard, you have nearly unlimited choices as to the layout of the garden. If your yard is small, you will have to be a little more creative, perhaps using an edible garden landscape approach. If you live on a steep hill, you will need to terrace.
Soil is a living, breathing, organism that can make or break your garden. If it is too sandy or silty, it will drain too quickly and your plants will die of thirst. If it is too hard and clay-like, it will take too long to drain, if it drains at all, and your plants will suffocate.
Not everyone has a yard in which to plant a garden. They might live in a high-rise overlooking a major city skyline with only a deck or a large sunny window. They might live in a tightly-packed condo or apartment complex that has small “yardlets” that get no sun. They might rent a house or duplex from a landlord that won’t allow them to dig up the yard for a garden – after all, if they move away, will the next tenant do anything with the garden or will it end up being a big muddy hole?
Whether you intend to start seeds indoors and then transplant outside, or purchase young plants to transplant as soon as you get them home, or you plan to sow seeds directly in the soil, these are the basics you will need to plant and tend your vegetable garden.
They say the best defense is a good offense, so why not apply this principle to your vegetable garden?
Companion planting is not an exact science, but certain combinations of plants grown together seem to be an effective way of enhancing food security by reducing the chances that crops will be destroyed by diseases or pests. The smell of certain pungent plants can repel pests. Other plants attract birds and insects that eat garden pests. One plant will feed the soil with the nutrients another needs, creating balance. A few specific examples follow.