Vegetable Gardening 101

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION

Choose the area for your garden carefully. Most vegetables need lots of sunshine. Place your garden where the plants will have at least six hours of sun each day. It can also be very helpful to place your garden close to your home, especially if you live on a large piece of property. If you locate your garden too far away, it is easy to forget about it, and not properly tend to the plants. You will find that placing your garden near your house will also encourage you to make use of your harvest.

THE GOOD EARTH

Rich, fertile soil will provide you with the best harvest. Prepare the soil in your garden to a depth of around 6 to 12 inches. Encourage your child to lend a hand. Visit your local gardening center for tools and gloves that are sized appropriately for children.

Aerate heavy soils with organic materials, such as compost, peat moss, manure or topsoil. Organic materials break down and decompose, providing your veggies with lots of nutrients Choose an all-purpose plant food (12-4-8) in slow-release form, and add to your soil prior to planting. Don't forget to keep all fertilizers and pesticides out of your child's reach. Remind them that these are to be used only with adult supervision.

 

FROM THE GROUND UP

Since you have already planned your garden on paper, and prepared the soil, this is the easy part. Depending on the vegetables you've chosen to plant, you can transplant seedlings that you've grown at home or purchased, or sow seeds directly into the ground. When planting seedlings, dig a hole larger than the plant, and water thoroughly before adding the seedling. Determine the depth at which to plant seeds by following the directions on the seed packet. Don't do all the work yourself. Children love getting their hands in the dirt, setting out seedlings. The rows may not be as straight as if you had planted yourself, but it's worth it. Gardening helps your child develop a real sense of pride in his accomplishments!

Start out by watering your garden each day, using a gently spray. After the first week, check the soil's moisture level on a daily basis, and water as needed.

Weed your garden at least once a week, or as necessary. With intercropping discouraging weed growth, weeding shouldn't be too difficult a job. Continue to fertilize your plants with slow-release fertilizer every 6 to 8 weeks for the best harvest.

HARVEST TIME

Pick veggies as soon as they mature to encourage a bountiful harvest. The young gardeners in your family have been patiently waiting for this day. Be sure to include them in the harvest. What could be more delicious than the taste of freshly-picked vegetables from your own garden?

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