Step #5: Ready, Set, Grow!
You've got your gear, prepared your plot and soil, and bought your plants. Next comes planting them to ensure they'll get adequate sunshine and water as they grow.
Different plants have different needs for sunlight. Sun worshippers include tomatoes, squash, beans, eggplant, corn, and peppers, while those less dependent on the sun are leafy vegetables, potatoes, carrots, and turnips. You can sow plants that need less sun in early spring or late summer when the sun is less vibrant, too. When choosing what to put where, remember to place taller plants on the north side of your plot to prevent shadows from forming and inhibiting the growth of shorter plants.
After your seeds or seedlings are in the soil, you can use additional compost as mulch to improve water retention, help control weeds, and keep the roots cool in hot weather. Other mulch options include straw, grass clippings, untreated wood chips, gravel, or stone.
Unfortunately, Mother Nature isn't always reliable enough to provide sufficient rainfall for a garden. Moreover, depending on your region, you might need to supplement it by watering your plants a little or a lot. If you notice a plant’s leaves, fruit, or buds start to brown or droop, increase the water supply. Oddly enough if a plant is water logged, oxygen is unable to circulate to its roots and the plant will show signs of stress similar to dehydration. Green leaves and stems that turn yellow or lighten in color could also be a sign of overwatering. To confirm the problem, reason that waterlogged plants do not respond positively to more water. Some water-rich fruits and vegetables, such as melons and cucumber thrive when they receive more water, while others, such as tomatoes, hate getting their feet wet too long. Always water plants at soil level in the morning, as evening watering can make them more susceptible to disease and mildew. Sporadic deep watering is more effective than frequent shallow watering. Be diligent about watering and weeding your precious new garden and chances are, it will flourish before your eyes!
Finally, start small and begin with plants that are easy to grow. This way, you'll avoid situations where the joy of your new hobby is replaced by frustration. Most importantly, relax! There will be successes and failures, but half the fun of gardening is learning as you grow!
A Beginner's Guide to Fruit and Vegetable Gardening
How to Start an Edible Garden
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