TIPS FOR GROWING GREAT VEGETABLESImagine harvesting nearly half a ton of tasty, beautiful, organically grown vegetables from a 15-by-20-foot plot, 100 pounds of tomatoes from just 100 square feet (a 4-by-25-foot bed), or 20 pounds of carrots from just 24 square feet. Yields like these are easier to achieve than you may think. Noting can be better than eating self-harvested organic vegetables! You know what fertilizers you have used and under what conditions you have grown your veggies.

You can vegetable garden in a pot on the patio or a half-acre vegetable patch. Either way the rewards are great. Here are some tips for coaxing the best out of your vegetable plants.

Good soil is the key to successful vegetable gardening and that if one takes the time to nurture their soil; he or she will be rewarded with healthy crops and a beautiful garden environment. One thing that will destroy soil is using chemical substances that aren’t organic.  They will destroy the soil food web. This food web consists of earthworms, mites, bacteria, fungi and other organisms that release mineral nutrients and create the loose soil structure crops need to thrive.  Some microorganisms prevent diseases and help fend off insect invasions.  Nurture the soil, and the soil will produce healthy, tasty, beautiful crops. Buy an easy-to-use soil test kit at the local garden center or online or send a soil sample to a laboratory. The soil should have good tilth — loose and crumbly and rich with organic matter. It should be fertile and well-drained. Improve your soil by adding organic matter — compost, composted manure, chopped up leaves, weed-free straw. In pots, use half soil-less potting mix and half compost, which increases fertility and water-holding capacity of the mix.

Plant cool-season vegetables in early spring once the soil begins to warm (lettuce, spinach, collard greens, mustard greens, Swiss chard, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli etc.). Warm-season vegetables, which can be planted outside after the last spring frost date, include tomatoes, basil, eggplant, peppers, beans, corn, cucumbers, melons, okra, pumpkins and squash. A soil thermometer can help determine when to plant.

To get the maximum yields from each bed, pay attention to how you arrange your plants. Avoid planting in square patterns or rows. Instead, stagger the plants by planting in triangles. By doing so, you can fit 10 to 14 percent more plants in each bed. Just be careful not to space your plants too tightly. Some plants won’t reach their full size or yield when crowded. Overly tight spacing can also stress plants, making them more susceptible to diseases and insect attack.

Successive sowings or plantings through late spring and summer will provide a fresh supply of vegetables over a long period of time. Succession planting allows you to grow more than one crop in a given space over the course of a growing season. That way, many gardeners are able to harvest three or even four crops from a single area.
To get the most from your succession plantings:

  • Use transplants. A transplant is already a month or so old when you plant it, and so will mature that much faster than a direct-seeded plant (one grown from seeds sown in the garden).
  • Choose fast-maturing varieties.
  • Replenish the soil with a ¼-to-½-inch layer of compost (about 2 cubic feet per 100 square feet) each time you replant. Work it into the top few inches of soil.

MOVE THEM: Rotate crops to reduce/control diseases that winter in soil. Don’t plant the same vegetables (or related vegetables — such as cabbage and broccoli) in the same spot more than once in three years.

Fertilizer purchased in garden centres typically contains nitrogen for top growth, phosphorous for root establishment and fruit formation, and potassium for root development and disease resistance. Apply fertilizer to the soil just before planting. Spade, till, or rake it into the top four to six inches of soil.

Nothing tastes as good as home grown, fresh-picked fruits and vegetables. It doesn’t take a lot of skill or space to grow something delicious in the backyard. Try these tips and tricks to get the most out of your planting space!