Vegetable Gardening: How to Get Started Growing Vegetables
Philippines has been blest with fertile soil. It has abundant supply of vegetables and other root crops available throughout the year. The agriculture sector here plays an important role in keeping the economy stable. One example is rice, the Filipino’s staple food which is one of the prime products for export. Because of the quality of the soil, farmers can plant vegetables too other than rice.
Here you can find plenty of different kinds of vegetables being sold in the nearest market and most of them are fresh and newly harvested. Fresh produce come from the provinces and they are cheaper when you buy straight from where they are harvested. The prices of vegetables only go up when agricultural lands are damaged due to typhoons.
But we don’t always need to buy vegetables in the market. We can plant them in the vacant lots. Vegetable gardening can be done by everybody even a child is capable to do so. Even if you’re not gifted with a proverbial “green thumb” you can grow your own vegetable garden. Besides growing vegetables on your own, this practice lets you spend quality time outdoors.
How to start planting vegetables
There are several things to consider before starting to plant vegetables
- Critical elements
These 3 critical elements are sunshine, water and good soil. Look for the place suitable for growing vegetables and most probably it will be your backyard. No need to worry for large space to work on because vegetables can be grown in plastic containers or even tin biscuit cans. Choose a spot in the yard that gets 6 hours of sunshine daily. A source of water should be near, like an outdoor faucet. You can tell also if it’s a good soil when it’s something between rock-hard clay and loose sand. If you have bad soil in your backyard, there’s no problem with that. You can add animal manure or compost the soil.
- What to plant
For the first time gardener, consider what kind of vegetables you like to eat. Some vegetables that are common to grow are tomatoes, peppers, onions, beans, radishes, lettuce and squash. If you’re a vegetarian, you can grow different kinds of vegetables.
Grow more than one variety of vegetables – this is to insure if one plant doesn’t perform well. If you have the best performer, grow again the next year and try another kind. Some varieties produce smaller plants that are ideal for small gardens or containers. Look also for those that are disease-resistant.
- Layout of the garden
There are 2 layouts of a vegetable garden – row cropping and intensive cropping.
Row cropping: This is planting in a single file with a walking path in between each row. This is best for big gardens which makes it easier to use mechanical equipment like hoes and tillers to battle weeds. There’s a downside to this kind of cropping because much of the soil area is used for foot paths rather than growing vegetables.
Intensive cropping is planting in wide bands, generally 1 to 4 feet across. This type of cropping reduces the amount of area needed for foot paths and the closer spacing of plants means that they must be cared for by hand. Because much of handwork is required, bands should be wider than you can comfortably reach. This approach isn’t a problem with most home-sized gardens.
Whatever method you choose in gardening, you better start small. A 10x10 foot space is a good size for the first garden. Allow at least 18 inches between rows or beds for easy access. Place taller vegetables such as standard-size tomatoes and plants that grow on vertical supports such as cucumbers at the north side.
You can also leave some areas of the garden unplanted at first. This allows you to plant a second crop to be harvested later in the planting season. Examples of vegetables that can be planted several times during the planting season are carrots, radishes, lettuce and green onions.
- Selecting seedlings
Choose seeds from mature plants. Buy seedlings that are certified by the Bureau of Plant Industry and other institutions. Procure seeds from well-known vegetable gardeners.
There are vegetables such as carrots and beans that require direct seeding. Direct seeding means placing the seeds at the recommended depth. Plant extra seeds to account for some that are not germinating and then you can thin out the extras after the plants are up and growing.
- Proper gardening clothes
In the course of gardening, you are likely to get soiled. Put on your boots and garden clothes before going to the garden and take them off before entering the house. Leave them in the garage or put them in a bag until you use them again.
Garden tools to use:
a) Hand cultivator – is used to weed and loosen soil in small areas.
b) Cultivator – bigger than hand cultivator; used to remove weeds, loosen soil and allow for sterilization of plants and trees.
c) Weeder – a long stick with forked end that can slice the root; used to dig out tap-rooted weeds.
d) Rake – commonly used in collecting dried leaves and small branches of tree; can also be used in breaking and leveling the soil.
e) Hoe – is used to make furrows for planting of seedlings in the ground; can also be used to remove weeds gently with a push and pull action.
f) Trowel – for cultivating weeds, mixing soil or fertilizers, transplanting seedlings and fillings containers with soil. Choose the one that fits best to your hand and should be light enough to handle easily.
g) Wheelbarrow – for transporting soil and plants from one place to another.
h) Scythe – for cutting grass.
i) Garden meter – for precise measurement of vegetable garden plot and to measure distances between plants.
j) Sprayer – for spraying insecticides.
k) Hose and sprinkler
l) Tomato cages – These are needed to support tomato plants and other running plants such as cucumbers and peas.
Clean the garden tools thoroughly after every use. To prevent rust apply oil on them regularly. Place them properly in a tool rack for safekeeping.