Your vegetable garden is all planted; things have come up and started growing. You may think that all you have left to do now is sit back and wait for your garden to start producing those juicy fresh vegetables you’ve envisioned picking off your plants. You can do just that, and if you get the rains just right, and the weeds don’t take over your garden, you’ll get some produce from your vegetable garden.
However; if you want to get the most return for your effort and investment in planting your vegetable garden, there are some things you can do to get the most out of your garden;
- Water; getting the right amount of water at the right time is very important to your plants. Sufficient water is necessary for your plants especially while they are still immature in order for them to mature into healthy plants that will produce quality vegetables for you. Failure to get regular watering will result in stunted weak plants that will produce poorly if they produce at all. This is slightly less important after they mature but if you want them to produce for you, you will see that they get regular watering.
- Mulch; mulch will help your plants in 3 ways; it will hold moisture thereby reducing the amount of watering necessary, it will keep the sun from burning the roots, and it will provide nutrients as it decomposes. The best mulching material is compost that has already started decomposing, but any natural mulching material is better than none.
- Weeding; when you allow weeds to grow around your plants they compete for the available moisture and nutrients. Weeds are much better competitors than vegetable plants and will starve your plants for moisture and nutrients. It is better to pull the weeds up by the roots just after watering than to cut them off at the ground with a hoe. Hoeing leaves the root systems intact to compete with your vegetables and grow a new weed.
- Pruning; most vegetable plants need pruning to produce their best. Pruning your plants allows them to focus their energy upon vegetable production rather than unnecessary foliage. Some foliage is necessary so be careful to avoid over pruning as this can stunt or even kill your plants.
- Shade; some plants benefit from shade during the hottest part of the day. Even plants that are supposed to grow in direct sunlight such as tomatoes and peppers can benefit from shade during the hottest part of the summer. I plant rows of field corn spaced around my vegetable garden to provide shade. During the early part of the season when the plants need direct sunlight the corn is short and doesn’t block off the sun, but as the season progresses into the hottest part of the summer, the corn is taller and provides needed shade for part of the day. The corn stalks also make good trellises for climbing beans or peas.
- Pest Control; bugs and caterpillars can eat your entire vegetable garden. The best way I know to control pests without chemicals is to get out in your garden early and late and pick them off your plants destroying any eggs you find on the underside of the leaves. I have tried many natural remedies for pests but none of them work as well as disposing of them manually (my chickens follow me around when I do this waiting for me to throw them the bugs and caterpillars).
Now is also the best time to plan your fall vegetable garden. Some vegetables seem to do best if planted in the fall and allowed to grow all winter. Some of the veggies that do well in cold weather are; carrots, greens, garlic, and onions. There are many others but these are mainly what I plant.
There, you now have some ways to enhance the productivity of your vegetable garden without much effort. If you will do these things, you will be rewarded with many more vegetables for your effort, and a healthier better looking garden, too.