Everyone should try his or her hand at vegetable gardening. And to get you started out right, first consider the layout of your garden. You will want to place companion plants together, while separating inhibiting plants. Avoid shading smaller plants while organizing your produce for particular watering needs. This rewarding activity will be a great success with a little planning.
Companion Plants or Inhibited Growth Plants
There are plant combinations, or companion plants, that benefit each other, such as potatoes planted near cabbage, carrots and celery, or radishes near spinach, but on the flip side there are also those that inhibit the growth of certain other vegetables. You do not have to have separate gardens for these “bully” plants; simply do not plant them next to certain other vegetables. Some common combinations you will want to separate for best growing results are potatoes away from tomatoes, squash and turnip; radishes from cauliflower, cabbage, turnip and Brussels sprouts; broccoli from tomatoes; and carrots from dill, according to Golden Harvest Organics.
Planting for Sufficient Sunshine
Most plants require six hours of sun daily. Of course, the sun would shine everyday in a gardeners’ perfect world, but in reality, this is not the case. To make the most of every sunny day, plant your tallest plants, such as corn and raspberry canes, along the most northern side of the garden to reduce the shade these towering plants will cause for the other, shorter, plants. After your tallest plants are in, plant rows from the next tallest vegetable right on down to the shortest. This will allow all of your produce equal sun exposure. That said, juggle your garden planning to allow for separation of certain plants and avoid inhibited growth.
Separate Plants Based on Watering Needs
Some plants prefer a particular style of watering. For simplicity, you can categorize these plants into two groups: root vegetables and leaf vegetables. Root vegetables, such as carrots, beets and potatoes, fare best with water applied only to the soil rather that directly over the leaves. This helps to avoid disease or fungus issues. For these root vegetables, a trickle, seep or drip-style hose, with perforated holes, works great. On the other hand, leaf vegetables, such as lettuce, spinach and Swiss chard thrive with a full soaking of the leaves. Use an oscillating sprinkler to water leafy vegetables. Other vegetables with large leaves that cover the ground, cauliflower, cabbage and broccoli for example, respond well to leaf watering. Place these large-leaf vegetables near your leafy vegetables. For ease of watering, separate root vegetables from leaf vegetables.
Pesticide-Free Pest Control
Insect and fungal disease can ruin a good crop. However, killing off particular insects is not always the answer; a balanced ecosystem needs almost every creepy, crawly bug, like it or not. Thankfully, you do have other options. Control garden-party crashers by controlling the garden. For instance, the club Root fungus attacks the cabbage-family (cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower), thriving on warm weather and acidic, moist soil. By maintaining the soil’s pH level to over 7.2 and ensuring good soil drainage, you can control the pest. Planting this family of vegetables all together in the same controlled area should ward off the problem recommends the National Gardening Association. Separating vegetables that need a lower or higher pH soil level, and maintaining this balance, will allow your plants to flourish, and send pests packing.
If you have a garden-wide, over infestation of garden-destroying insects and must resort to pest warfare, a popular, eco-friendly way to control the culprits is to bring in a garden-destroyers’ enemy, such as the ladybug. One ladybug consumes thousands of aphids, mealy bugs, mites and leafhoppers, just to name a few, in its lifetime. You can purchase ladybugs from a garden supply store, or attract them into your garden with geraniums, white cosmos and dandelions.
With sufficient sunlight, proper watering, harmonious planting and eco-friendly pest control, watch proudly as your garden flourishes; give yourself a (green) thumbs-up.