Learn what kind of soil you have in your vegetable garden. The soil can make a huge difference in having a successful garden or not. Rich compost-like soil is what you want for your garden. Soil filled with organic life, microbes and earthworms. You can fix the soil if it is less than ideal. The number one thing you can do is add compost and organic matter.
If you can't work the soil then consider building raised beds, raised bed mounds, or even gardening in pots.
You need to learn about the plants you intend to grow. Each plant has its own specific characteristics. Many plants need the same growing conditions but there are cultural techniques specific to each plant that greatly benefit the gardener to know. This isn't difficult to stuff to learn even though it sounds like there is a lot of material to cover. When you plant something new - research it. Free online resources about vegetable growing are all over the internet these days! Or you could find yourself a good resource book like Barbara Damrosche's Garden Primer (link to my review) or the Rodale's Ultimate Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening. You need to know when to plant the plant, what kinds of amendments it requires, common issues to the plant, and how to harvest it!
|Black blister Beetle - not a good bug!|
At some point your plants will get infected with a disease. It could be the result of many things. Contamination from other plants, chewing insects that spread diseases from plant to plant, diseases lurking in the soil, or even bad cultural practices at a nursery. Use a three step process to figure out what to do.
- Identify the disease. Use local university extension services or websites for very reliable information.
- Treat the disease. Remove the plant or treat the disease as needed.
- Prevent the disease. Find out how the disease is transmitted and what steps you can take to prevent it from reoccurring.
You need to know about yourself, your capabilities, your goals, and your time. A successful garden isn't something that is done on the side like a casual game of golf when you have the time. To be successful with your vegetable garden it has to be integrated into your daily life. A ten minute walk through the garden before you go to work is both relaxing and beneficial. It will help you determine how things are growing and what work needs done later when you get home. A 20 minute after work session in the garden done on a daily basis keeps a garden maintained. However you fit it in gardening has to be done in a way that is a part of your routine.
Think of it this way. You probably visit the grocery store once a week or so, maybe more. If your garden is producing the food you need do you still need to go to the store every week? Would then your time be better spent maintaining the garden then spending a couple hours each week shopping for food? Could you then adjust your shopping to go less often? Wouldn't being in the garden be more enjoyable than visiting the grocery store? Before you can get to this point you need to make sure that the garden is part of the gardener's day.
Putting all of these ideas together at once could seem overwhelming but it shouldn't be. All of this and much of gardening can be learned as you go. Keep a few good reference books available, a few good websites bookmarked, and write down a few notes every now and then in a journal of some kind for future reference and you WILL do fine!