Saturday, January 31, 2009

Home Vegetable Gardening

Home Vegetable Gardening

Home vegetable gardening: Even if you live in an apartment, you can grow vegetables.
Everyone loves the delicious flavor of home grown vegetables. Even if you did not grow up in the country, the difference in taste when comparing hot house grown vegetables and home grown vegetables is easily detected. Most people who live in apartments crave fresh vegetables without ever realizing that they can grow them even within such limited space.

A patio, no matter how small, can provide you with enough fresh tomatoes, peas, beans, peppers, radishes, squash and onions to fill your refrigerator all summer long. Farming in window sills is also a popular way of growing vegetables, both inside and out. There are numerous ways to expand your gardening area which are both simple and inexpensive. Tables, bookshelves, closets and even unused bureau tops can become a perfect planting area for fresh vegetables when full spectrum lighting is provided to these areas. Vegetables love the blue and red ray spectrum and will amaze you by what they produce when these rays are provided. So, now that you know you have the space, let's get your garden growing.

To begin, identify the space you will have for growing according to the suggestions above. Next you will want to buy shelves and brackets, which will be used in your windows to expand you growing area inside. If you have a patio, shelves can be installed for additional growing space. The unused side of a patio door area is also a good place to plant. But if you have no patio or windows, you will want to pick up a shop light fixture or two and full spectrum bulbs. These can be hung from the ceiling to give even the darkest area the proper lighting for plants to grow. Most of them come with the chains needed so they can be dropped down close to your plants. Hanging planters are also a great place to grow vegetables and even some fruits such as strawberries.

Next you will need to purchase pots, soil, seeds, plant stakes and fertilizers. Your pots can consist of any water resistant container that is sturdy can be used to grow vegetables. Redwood planters, clay pots, plastic garbage cans, buckets, bags of planting mix, strawberry jars or even garbage bags can be used as planters. The important thing is to make sure the planter has holes drilled for proper drainage. Since your growing medium is extremely important, your soil should consist of a mixture of peat moss and vermiculite mixed half and half. To this you will need to add a good 5-10-10 fertilizer and lime. When this is mixed, you are ready to fill your pots with soil.

For the best results when growing vegetables in your apartment, try to match the seeds you choose to the space you will be working with. Dwarf tomatoes grow well in a hanging planter, as do strawberries. Beans and peas will need larger pots and plant stakes so you can train them up the stake to save room. Corn can be grown in a larger pot as well. Onions, radishes and peppers do well in 6 inch pots placed on shelves in a window. Vine vegetables like squash need plenty of space to root but will need to be tied up to protect the vine from breaking as they become larger. Vegetables grown inside your apartment will need plenty of water. Be sure to check them daily by sticking your finger about two inches into the soil to ensure that plenty of moisture is present

Friday, January 30, 2009

Starting A Summer Vegetable Garden

Starting A Summer Vegetable Garden

How to Begin a Summer Vegetable Garden.
There's no comparison between store-bought veggies and those that come from the home garden.
Difficulty Level: average
Time Required: a day

Here's How:
  1. Select a garden space that receives 6 hours or more of full sun per day.
  2. Till the ground and add organic matter back into the garden soil, mixing well.
  3. Visit your local garden center for young plants of vegetables that you enjoy.
  4. Select seeds (plants may not be available) if you want to grow cucurbits, peas, beans and corn.
  5. Select varieties that are resistant to disease.
  6. Allow enough space between plantings to provide good air circulation.
  7. Anticipate pests, and plant at least twice what you'll need.
  8. Water often, checking a few inches below the soil line for dryness. Don't allow plants to wilt.
  9. Use a fertilizer especially formulated for summer vegetables, following the package directions.
  10. Yank up weeds as they sprout.
  11. Visit the garden daily to spot and eliminate bugs, disease and weeds.
  12. Add supplemental water if there's not at least 1 inch of rainfall per week, and don't wet the foliage.

Tips:
  • Don't fret if a few male blossoms drop before female blossoms form.
  • Fertilize as often as recommended to keep plants growing and producing quickly.
  • Plant as early as possible in the season to achieve a harvest before bugs and disease can take hold.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Vegetable Garden Tips

Vegetable Garden Tips

How to make your vegetable garden provide the most for the space available. Hints on choosing plants, spacing, watering, fertilizing.
You love the taste of fresh vegetables, but the price in the grocery store causes your appetite to disappear. Whats a veggie lover to do? Grow your own. "I don't have room, my yard is small".

You can grow vegetables anywhere, and the newer varieties of favorites like cucumber, melons, zucchini are designed for small garden spaces. The first thing to do is pick out your garden area. The size will depend upon your energy, time, and space available. Remember vegetable gardens don't have to be a traditional rectangle, that little triangle place between the fence and the shed could make a very nice garden.

Look at the area you have choosen, how much light does it get? Full sun is ideal, but most plants will grow well with partial shade, and some actually do better when shaded all day. Does your garden soil need help? You can get soil testing at many universities, you can also buy soil test kits from your garden supply center. If you know without testing that you need to add to your soil, then start adding compost, and good topsoil. You are going to be taxing the soil to provide the largest number of plants with the most nutrients possible so go ahead and add plenty of well decomposed compost.

Pick your plants, what do you like to eat? Fresh tomatoes, peas, corn, carrots, potatoes, squash, melon, the choice is yours. Talk to gardeners in your area for information on what vegetables do best in your area. Your local Cooperative extension is also a good place to get information.

Now plan where you are going to put your plants. Most seeds, and plants have a planting guide telling you how far apart to plant them. The trick is to plant them at the minimum distance in staggered rows. If your tomato plant says to plant 1 to 2 feet apart then plant 1 foot apart in rows that are 10 inches apart.

Stagger the plants so that they are actually 1 foot from the next closest plant. The next trick is to plant compatible plants in the same row. Lettuce and tomatoes go well together, the lettuce will have come up and be gone by the time you get your first tomato. Carrots and radishes do well, the radishes are ready in a month, the carrots will take 60 days. plant your corn, and allow beans and peas to climb up the stalks.

Encourage any vining plants, like melon, cucumber, zucchini to grow on a fence. You will lose less garden space, and it will be easier to enjoy the fruits of your labour. Don't forget to use tomato cages for tomatoes, peppers, and peas and beans.

You will need to use a good water soluble fertilizer more frequently, since you are asking the soil to support many more plants. Usually every two weeks is often enough, but experiment. A word of caution is needed though, too much fertilizer and you will end up with lots of green leaves but fewer fruits.

Watering will need to be more frequent. Be careful that you do not overwater. The easiest way to check is to push a finger in the ground near the roots of a plant, if the soil is not damp at the end of your finger you need to water, otherwise wait another day, and check again.

Enjoy your gardening, experiment, and talk to other gardeners from your area. Your plants may not be as big as some, but they will be yours. Don't be disappointed if your vegetables are not as pretty as the ones at the grocery store. The commercial growers have access to seeds/plants that are not available to residential gardeners. They also only send the best looking fruit and vegetables to the grocery store. The ones with small flaws, or odd shapes go to the cannery.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Vegetable Gardening Tips

Vegetable Gardening Tips

Here are some tips for vegetable gerdening. The size of your garden has a great deal to do with what you can plant. Also, the choice to seeds, and time to maturing is a factor.

Careful consideration needs to be given to the special varieties of vegetables to be grown in your garden. Before you buy the seed you will plant, whether it is ordered in your favorite seed catalog, or from the local garden center, think about what you actually want in your garden. If you have been researching then you know how many different kinds of seeds are available. Compare and choose those that are well suited for your area and conditions.

Of course, the size of your plot is a factor, if it is large you can have a selection of various seeds, including sprawling vine crops like cucumbers, and squash. A small garden would not accommodate these choices. Smaller bush crops are being bred however for small spaces. If your space is sparse look for "dwarf" and "compact" labeled seeds and plants.

Try to choose disease "resistant" varieties; a disease will not attack a plant especially bred to be resistant. Disease "tolerant" brand will be attacked by the disease but will most likely survive and produce a crop. There are many disease resistant choices now, call your local county agent for more advice on this subject.

The time it takes to mature is important, especially if the growing season is short, or your are planting in succession. There are those plants that mature quickly and will be in your garden a short period. The vegetables that take longer to mature, can be early, mid, or late season varieties.

Some vegetables are chosen for their ability to preserve well, and are not so sweet and succulent as other categories. Read the description, it will usually say best for preserving, or freezing.

Choose some vegetables with high nutritive value. The powerhouses in this category are carrots, sweet potatoes, cauliflower, artichokes, asparagus, peas, beans, lima beans, Brussels sprouts, spinach, and broccoli.

Talk to neighbors, some veteran gardeners can give very good advice. They have experimented with different varieties and can advise you are many things within their experience.

Some seed is treated for fungicide, which works to keep the seeds from rotting. A brightly colored "chalky" substance on the seed distinguishes the treated seed. Some catalogs offer untreated seeds which organic gardeners prefer. Plant untreated seed when the soil is approximately 65 degrees to germinate well.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Vegetable Garden Advice

Vegetable Garden Advice

Growing a vegetable garden can be rewarding. But, like anything worthwhile it takes time, patience and planning. A basic overview on how to start your first vegetable garden.

Growing your own vegetable garden can be an enjoyable and rewarding experience, but like anything of value it takes some advanced planning and preparation. So let's review the essentials of a vegetable garden. For best results, most vegetables need six to eight hours of direct sunlight a day. Leafy greens like spinach can thrive on less, but as a general rule six to eight hours of sunlight is best. The ideal location has loose soil that drains well. If your soil is less than perfect, don't worry because you can improve it by adding organic matter such as compost.

The size of your garden depends on how much time, space, and energy you have. However, the dimensions listed here will give you a basic understanding of a vegetable garden's layout and care. A twenty-by-twenty-foot plot gives you room to grow a variety of crops. A twelve-by-sixteen-foot plot is sufficient for a garden with a variety of greens, herbs, tomatoes, peppers, and beans. By growing plants in succession and using three-foot wide beds with eighteen-inch paths, you should have plenty of vegetables for family and friends.

Now that you have found the perfect location for your garden, what's next? Stake it out. You will need a tape measure, plenty of string, twelve- to eighteen-inch stakes, and of course, a hammer to drive the stakes into the ground. For the best exposure to the sun, have the rows running east to west with the tallest plants on the north end. After this is done, drive a stake in each of the four corners of the garden. Next, measure and stake each garden bed, or row, with the string.

Feeding the soil, or fertilizing, is arguably the most important step in the gardening process. Try addressing the soil's long-term needs by gardening organically. Use organic fertilizers, such as manure, and work them into the soil with a rake. Nutrients from organic products are released into the soil slowly, but it's worth the extra effort. For a twelve-by-sixteen-foot garden, use either thirty pounds of aged chicken manure, seventy-five pounds of horse manure, or seventy-five pounds of commercial compost. Use twice as much for a twenty-by-twenty-foot plot.

Many vegetables are started from seeds sown directly into the ground. Others go in as seedlings. Keep in mind which vegetables are frost tolerant. This information should be on the back of the seed packets. The average date of frost is the key date in the gardening process. If you don't know that date in your region, check your local nursery or extension service.

You can safely plant the cool season vegetables such as broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, celery, parsley, peas, radishes, and spinach--before the last frost date. Arugula, beets, endive, leaf lettuce, parsnips, and potatoes are less frost-hardy but still grow well in cool weather. Warm season vegetables such as green beans, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, melons, peppers, and tomatoes--should only be planted after the first frost has passed.

Like everything in life, you learn as you go. In time, you will be able to fine tune your garden to your particular environment. But first you must start. So get out there and plant.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Tips and Ideas Vegetable Garden

Tips and Ideas Vegetable Garden

Simple tips and ideas for planting a vegetable garden.
Summer is the best time for enjoying fresh vegetables, and nothing tastes better than vegetables picked from your own backyard.

Planting a vegetable garden is surprisingly easy and requires very little space. The key to a successful garden is sun, so be sure to plan your garden for a spot that gets a lot of direct sunlight. Even if you don't have a large patch of ground to plant all the vegetables you would like to grow, if you have a nice border around your house that gets good sun exposure, this is also an ideal planting area.

Once you've decided on your garden's placement, it's time to decide what you want to plant. What and how much you plant will depend on the size of the area. For instance, if you are only working with a 3' by 5' space, you do not want to plant vegetables such as lettuce or broccoli as these plants take up a lot of ground space. For a smaller garden, tomatoes and peppers are ideal. If, as mentioned above, you have border space, radishes and carrots are a good choice.

Start to prepare the ground in mid to late spring by adding some mulch or topsoil to the area. This is also a good time to start a compost pile. Save all your coffee grounds, eggshells, potato peels, etc. and discard them in the corner of your garden. Rake the compost through the soil weekly and by the time you're ready to plant, the soil will be nice and rich.

If you are opting for tomatoes and peppers as your vegetables of choice, your best bet is to purchase the actual plants from your neighborhood nursery. A flat of tomato or pepper plants consisting of about eight plants to a flat, is relatively inexpensive.

Depending on the climate, it's best to wait until late spring (Mother's Day being a rule of thumb) to get the plants in the ground. Dig approximately six inches deep to insert your plant and place each plant approximately 8 to 10 inches apart. You can have two rows each of tomatoes and peppers in a small 3' x 5' garden. Be sure to water your plants daily but avoid overwatering as this will drown the plants before they flower. As tomato plants grow, their vines become thick and heavy and it will become necessary to stake the plants. You can do this with wooden slats tied with string or you can invest in regular tomato fences that you can place over your plants to keep them straight.

For root plants such as radishes and carrots, you can plant right from seed in mid to late spring. As the seeds sprout, thin them out to six inches apart. Radishes and carrots grow underground; however when they are ripe and fully grown the tops of the vegetables will protrude from the soil and you'll know they're ready to be picked.

Assuming a Mother's Day start date, your vegetables should be fresh and ready to eat by mid to end July. But be prepared, a successful garden will yield lots of fresh vegetables, so study up on your canning and freezing!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Vegetable Fertilizer

Vegetable Fertilizer

When and how should you fertilize your different vegetables?
Which vegetables don't need fertilization?
Which ones do?

This is an often-overlooked aspect of raising a garden. You consider all the aspects of making sure your lawn and trees are carefully fed, but do you really pay attention to the type of food needed to take care of your vegetables. Most vegetables require food. And if you don't give it to them, they're less likely to turn out as well as you'd like. You should get a quality fertilizer, particularly one made specially for vegetables. Read the instructions on the fertilizer thoroughly so you provide the proper dosage for your vegetables. You don't want to give them too much or too little food, or that could cause problems for you down the line. Here is a list of different vegetable plants and how to fertilize them for maximum results.

  • Asparagus. Fertilize before they start growing in the spring and again after harvesting them.
  • Beans. Fertilize while planting only.
  • Beets. Fertilize while planting only.
  • Broccoli. Fertilize three weeks after transplanting the vegetables.
  • Cabbage. Fertilize three weeks after transplanting the vegetables.
  • Carrots. Fertilize while planting only.
  • Cauliflower. Fertilize three weeks after transplanting the vegetables.
  • Cucumbers. Fertilize when they start to stand up.
  • Eggplant. Fertilize when they start to bloom.
  • Kale. Fertilize four weeks after you plant them.
  • Lettuce. Fertilize while planting only.
  • Muskmelon. Fertilize when they start to stand up.
  • Onions. Fertilize twice, once at four weeks and once at six weeks after planting them.
  • Peas. Fertilize while planting only.
  • Peppers. Fertilize when the plants start to bloom.
  • Potatoes. Fertilize right before they start to bloom.
  • Spinach. Fertilize while planting only.
  • Squash. Fertilize when they start to stand up.
  • Tomatoes. Fertilize when they start to bloom.
  • Turnips. Fertilize while planting only.
  • Watermelon. Fertilize when they start to stand up.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Root Vegetables

Root Vegetables

Find out more about root vegetables and why they are good for you.
Vegetables are quite popular in summer as they are used in salads but people tend to abandon them in winter. Root vegetables are the ideal winter vegetables, providing plenty of fibre, vitamins and minerals.

Root vegetables are low in calories and fat but high in carbohydrates. They are also very filling so if you eat them you are less likely to crave high-fat snacks.

Here's a look at some common root vegetables


Carrots
Carrots have a strong flavor and a firm texture. They can withstand robust cooking methods, making them ideal for stews and soups. They are particularly rich in carotenes which are converted to vitamin A by the body and act as antitoxidants.

Turnips

These are the swollen roots of a plant native to Europe. They vary widely in size, shape and color. Turnips are good for soups and stocks and the white spring turnips taste the best.

Potatoes
Potatoes are very high in carbohydrate and give a controlled release of energy therefore reducing hunger pangs. They contain vitamin C, thiamin and folic acid.

Swedes

Swedes can be baked, roasted, fried or boiled. They contain vitamin C and betacarotenes, but boiling reduces the latter considerably.

Radishes
Radishes are mostly eaten raw in salads, but they can also be boiled. They are 95% water and due to their strong flavor are only eaten in small quantities. They add more taste than nutrition to the diet.

Beetroot

Beetroot can be boiled or baked and served hot or cooled and pickled. It contains a unique pigment called betanin but this has not been found to have any particular nutritional value as yet.

Parsnips

These provide a good balance of simple and complex sugars which make them ideal for atheletes and active people. They are best eaten with some added oil as they have a tendency to be rather dry.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Companion Planting A Vegetable Garden

Companion Planting A Vegetable Garden

Companion planting is growing together plants that complement and assist each other so that they can flourish. For example, some vegetables and herbs help each other thrive because they fix the nitrogen from the air in their roots and help improve the soil for the other plants. They also repel insects and animals, which would destroy or damage the crops. Here are a few steps which will help yout to plan your garden:


Plan your garden carefully

  • Plants that need a lot of water can be planted together, closer to the water source. Other plants can be planted further away from your tap. In your planning, think about which plants grow well together, which plants thrive in the sun and which ones grow better in the shade.
  • Group the plants that complement each other together
  • Beans grow well with marigolds, potatoes, rosemary, celery, corn or tomatoes.
  • *Marigolds and potatoes repel Mexican bean beetles. Rosemary repels insects. Celery, corn and tomatoes improve growth.
  • Cabbage and cabbage-family members grow well with aromatic plants such as rosemary, sage, and thyme repel insects. You can also interplant them with clover and lettuce to help confuse insect pests.
  • Plants you can plant lettuce with include beets, carrots, cucumbers, cabbage-family crops, radishes, and strawberries, as they all enhance its growth. Plant your corn with beans and peas, as they add nutrients to the soil.
  • Interplant your carrots with peas, radishes, or sage to improve their flavor- peas also add nutrients to the soil. Onions, leaks and rosemary help repel root maggot flies. Onions help repel carrot rust flies.
  • Plant your melons with corn and peas to improve growth and flavor. Nasturtiums and radishes repel cucumber beetles.
  • Separate the plants that do not grow well together

When you plan your garden, make sure that the following plants are not planted together in the same bed, as they do not complement each other.
  • Beetroot with pole beans
  • Onions with peas and beans
  • Cabbage with strawberries, potatoes and pole beans
  • Pumpkin with potatoes
  • Tomatoes with cabbage and potatoes
  • Sunflowers with potatoes

Plant your garden in rotation

When you inter-crop your garden, you can also plant in rotation. That means you will plant different vegetables on the same piece of land one after another. It means that you will not grow the same plant again and again in the same soil. Planting in rotation helps to prevent insect invasions. It also helps to prevent harmful soil bacteria and other organisms from multiplying.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Planting A Vegetable Garden In Containers

Planting A Vegetable Garden In Containers

Planting a vegetable garden in containers. Save time space and money, and enjoy fresh garden produce.
Nothing tastes quite as good as a succulent tomato, ripened on the vine, unless it's the taste of sweet corn, picked just minutes before being plunged into boiling water. If you have ever experienced these culinary delights, you know what I am talking about. If not, this is the year to make it happen. Sure, you can't till up half of your back yard for a garden plot, and no, the neighbors probably do not want you dumping a truckload of cow manure where the pool used to be, so what to do?

Plant a container garden! With the variety of vegetables today, you will be able to find anything you want in a compact size. Tomatoes, cucumbers and even squash can be grown right in containers on your porch. Any place that gets six or more hours of sunlight a day becomes your garden, and if your location is really shaded, you can move your pots around to get the required amount of sunshine. The growing instructions are just like that of those things grown conventionally, with a few exceptions.

  1. Look for "compact" or "bush" varieties. These plants are genetically predisposed to growing smaller, and taking up less room.
  2. Water often. This is perhaps the most important thing to remember. Plants grown in pots dry out quickly. If it is hot or windy, they may need to be watered twice a day.
  3. Fertilize frequently. With all of that watering, you are going to leach the vitamins out of the soil quickly. One method of fertilizing is to dilute a regular liquid fertilizer 25%, and use it every time you water.
  4. Check for bugs. One of the best things about growing your own vegetables is your ability to keep them free of chemicals. By checking your plants frequently, you will notice any bug problems before they get out of control. If you do see bugs, you can either pick them off by hand, if there are just a few, or you can rinse the plants off with soapy water.

So, how to decide what to grow? You can of course, plant a pot with lettuce, a pot with cucumbers and a pot with radishes, but why not grow a "salad pot"? In one larger pot plant a bush cucumber, surround that with radish seeds, and then plant a variety of leaf lettuces around the edge. The shapes and textures add to the beauty of the pot, and everything you need for a salad is in one place. What next? How about a "salsa pot"? Plant your bush tomato and peppers, and surround them with scallions and cilantro. At harvest time, chop everything coarsely, and you have terrific homemade salsa. What other ideas can you come up with? Let your imagination run wild and enjoy your garden fresh produce.