Like many home vegetable gardeners, when I was younger I concentrated on the simple basics of having a home vegetable garden. The information I am about to share with you was never even a thought in my mind, but as I have come to learn, knowing it, has made me a better gardener and my harvest more productive.
You can keep your home vegetable garden at the current level of where it is now of planting some seeds, adding water, maybe a little fertilizer and waiting for the vegetables to come up, or you can follow the advice below and produce even more.
This term refers to the depth at which you plant a seed. It varies by plant variety and seed size. A typical rule of thumb is the smaller the seed to more shallow it has to be planted. The reason being is each seed as built into it the ability to push through the topsoil. Larger seeds can push through from deeper depths whereas smaller seeds need to be closer to the top.
Germination is the process of when the vegetable plant emerges from the seed. Sure that one is easy, but there are factors that you can control to create optimal conditions for your seeds so they can germinate faster. For instance each vegetable plant likes the soil to be a certain temperature. If the soil is colder then what it likes it may take longer to germinate and if it is too hot you could literally cook the seed. But, having it at the optimal temperature will ensure that the seed will not only germinate, but emerge much faster.
Every vegetable plant uses nutrients from the soil. They need these nutrients to grow, thrive and produce tasty vegetables. The species of the plant will determine how much it uses of a certain kind of nutrient. For instance just like a body builder needs more protein, or a long distance runner needs more carbohydrates, your tomato plants require more of certain nutrients than say a cauliflower plant. Crop rotation is the process of where you plant your vegetables in different locations everywhere, ensuring that one valuable nutrient is not depleted from the soil due to planting the same crop in the same location year after year. This way the plant that needs more phosphorus will be moved to a location where the previous year the plant that was there did not require as much.
Companion planting is when you plant different species of vegetable plants next to one another. You do this because these plants can compliment one another for a number of reasons such as insect, pest and disease control or one plant may put a nutrient into the soil that another plant requires in order to grow. Utilizing companion planting will make you garden go further than you ever thought possible.
pH, N, K, P
Get to know these letters well. They are short for very valuable items that your garden needs in order to thrive. For instance, pH is the pH level of your soil. You can get this reading (as well as the others N,P,K) by purchasing a home soil testing kit at your local home or garden center. If it is under 7 then your soil is acidic and over 7 it is alkaline. N stands for nitrogen, K stands potassium, and P stands for phosphorus. Although there are about 16 elements your plants need to grow strong, these are the big three. Knowing how much each of your plants need and supplying them the source to get it, will pay big dividends in vegetable production and taste.
Get to know these terms above and master them. Your home vegetable garden harvest will increase to sizes you never thought possible.
About the Author
Mike is the author of the book Vegetable Gardening for the Average Person: A Guide to Vegetable Gardening for the Rest of Us, available where gardening books are sold. Sign up for Mike’s vegetable gardening newsletter at his website: AveragePersonGardening.com and he will send you a free pack of vegetable seeds to get your garden started.