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.
Our first garden was something of a miracle, really, considering the only tools we had were a shovel, 4 hands and 4 feet. Oh, and an old broom handle – helpful for drawing planting lines and digging planting holes. Yeah, we were that poor.
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.
Whether you plan to use the stake-and-string method, wire cages, trellises, some homegrown contraption you’ve cobbled together from two-by-fours, duct tape and dental floss…or all of the above…the one thing they all have in common is the need to have them in place BEFORE you plant!
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.
While companion planting, introducing beneficial insects, and attracting pest-killing birds to your vegetable garden will certainly help control garden pests, you may need to go a step or two further and install some barriers for plant protection.