A Life Affirming Hobby
Vegetable Gardening Benefits
What can compare to the pleasure of lifting your first new potatoes or going to your garden to get all the ingredients for your supper. Vegetable gardening for beginners may be enjoyed by all ages and is a wonderful hobby. It provides exercise and the opportunity to get back in touch with nature and the seasons. In addition you may save money and enjoy the tastiest vegetables. Vegetable gardening beginners may start slowly with containers or a small bed and then progress to your whole garden or even an allotment.
Vegetable Garden Size and Location
A reasonable plot for a family would be about 300 sq.ft (approx. 17 feet by 17 feet). Alternatively you could start by using containers or smaller beds. Whatever size plot you decide upon, you need to have the right location. Ideally a vegetable garden will have plenty of sunshine, be protected from the wind and have a good source of water (preferably natural rain but if not it should be easy to water).
Vegetable Garden Preparation
Vegetables need good soil to thrive. You will need to clear your vegetable patch of all weeds and dig and work your soil until it is reasonably fine, smooth and free from stones. If your soil is particularly poor you will need to add compost or manure. Another tip to clear land is to make your first crop potatoes. This works because potatoes are vigorous growers and provide cover. In addition the process of “earthing up” potatoes helps to work the soil. So, if you have invasive and persistent weeds potatoes will help you win the battle. The ideal time to prepare your vegetable garden is Autumn. If you miss that window of opportunity you could start in early Spring provided the soil is frost free and conditions are not too wet.
Easy Vegetable Gardening
Preparing your plot is clearly the most demanding part. It is important that you do not set your heights too high. Choose the plot size, raised beds or containers that you feel sure you can prepare. It is better to garden on a small scale rather than fail on an over ambitious project. Remember there is always next year. Once you have put in the work to prepare your garden it is a case of little and often. Most of the tasks are enjoyable and will actually help you enjoy nature and the seasons. The main jobs are planning, sowing and planting, weeding and hoeing, watering and feeding and, of course, harvesting! Weeding has a bad press but if you get into the habit of taking your hoe every time you go into your garden you will find that weeding takes care of itself! The old saying is “Never let a weed see a Sunday!”
Raised Bed Vegetable Gardening
If you have poor soil, raised beds make it far easier to control your soil conditions. There are many different designs and materials to make a raised bed and with a little ingenuity and investigation they need not be expensive to construct. They should not be more than about 1.5 meters wide- you have to be able to reach into the middle! The other advantages of raised beds are that your vegetable garden and your project has set boundaries and they look very neat within a well designed garden.
Organic Vegetable Gardening
Another advantage of organic gardening is that you get to control the chemicals that are used on at least some of your food. The control of pests and disease is a continuous battle for the vegetable gardener. In most cases there are organic alternatives to help you win the battle. If you want to go organic you will need to investigate these alternatives and read up on the weapons that you may use for the vegetables you are aiming to grow. This investigation should be carried before you sow or plant so you are armed and ready before the battle commences!
Vegetable Gardening Planning and Layout
Most people will advise that you start with vegetables that are easy to grow. While this is important, perhaps even more vital is that you choose vegetables that you will enjoy harvesting and eating. No point growing loads of great courgettes if you don't eat them! On the other hand do bear in mind that your own fresh vegetables will taste better than most supermarket produce. You might be converted to liking a vegetable by the process of growing it yourself. This is certainly true for children and another great reason to start vegetable gardening.
The factors to consider when deciding what to grow are:
- Your preferred vegetables
- Ease of growing
- Your soil and location conditions
- Size of your plot
Once you have decided which vegetables to grow, it is advisable to draw a plot of your garden. You will need to know the spacing requirements, and sowing and harvesting requirements for each of your chosen vegetables. Do think about a number of crops to avoid gluts. For example salad crops such as lettuce and radishes need to be sown at regular intervals so you may enjoy your home grown salads all through the Spring and Summer. You need to take into account the height of your crops, for example tall crops such as runner beans need to be planted so that they do not shade the rest of your garden.
Vegetable Gardening For Beginners Books
This has been an introduction to the main points to consider when starting out on your vegetable gardening hobby. Inevitably there will be further questions and challenges that you will want to address. There are literally thousands of gardening books. Before selecting a book think about your circumstances and what you hope to achieve. Do you have a large garden or will be using containers? Will you garden organically? Will you involve your children? Once you have answered such questions you will be able to select the book to help you with your new hobby.
Vegetable gardening is a wonderful hobby that you may enjoy for the rest of your life. I can think of no other hobby that gives you exercise, appreciation of nature and the seasons, wonderful tasty food, the opportunity to bond with and educate your children and even the chance to save money.