10 Vegetable Gardening Basics for Beginners
Growing vegetables is easy as long as you follow a strict code . There are few important factors that play important role in plant growth, manage these factors and you can grow just about any vegetable or fruit at home. First of all you need a plan, a vision or a target. If you are growing vegetables for profit then make sure you understand your local market . Have everything mapped out on paper. How much you want to invest. How much can you sell. How much time can you give to this project.
Farming has its risks just like any other business. Some time there is weather, some time its market and some times there are little mistakes that we make during the process . Despite every thing growing vegetables can be a very profitable business and above every thing it's a fun business. You never get bored growing vegetables and that i can guarantee. You just need to be sure that you want to do it .
If you are growing vegetables in your backyard then you are still doing it for profit as it will save you some money . You can always sell extra vegetable to near by stores. Vegetables are valued according to demand and growing method. Packaging and presentation also plays a small role in marketing your product.
Following are the key ingredients to a successful crop.
1- Fertile Soil
2- Healthy Seed
4- Pest Control
5- Weed Control
10 - Labour
This brief farming guide will help you manage these 10 key ingredients. Using these easy basics you can learn all about how to grow vegetables in your backyard or on your farm.
Importance of fertile soil in growing vegetables
There are hundreds of ways of defining a fertile soil but ill try to keep it as simple as i can . The location you choose for growing vegetables should be ploughed by hand or by machine. Soil should be fine and soft for better root growth. Soil Ph should be between 5.5 - 7 . Soil must have good organic content in it as it helps in retaining moisture.
Soil can be improved by adding compost, farmyard manure and soil conditioners. Products like compost and humic acid are easily available in market.
Grow bags are good easy to use growing medium. All you need to do is make holes and plant seed. Grow bags can be bought from local stores or online shops. You can make your own grow bags by mixing compost with good soil in 1:1 and putting it in flat black plastic bags.
Good Seed Great Crop
Never compromise on seed quality use best available seed for good yield. Seed should be from fresh stock. Should have good purity and at least 90% germination. Pelleted seed are better and easy to manage. Change seed variety after 2 years of continuous sowing. Store seed under ideal condition's once you buy it.
Organic seed are healthier and F1 Hybrid Seeds produce higher yields.
Nutrients for growing vegetables
A friend of mine asked me once about how to grow vegetables that look perfect just like the ones on tv or magazines. Every one would want an easy answer to that but there are many factors involved in producing good quality vegetables. Good nutrition combination is important in getting good quality vegetables. Nutrition requirements differ from vegetable to vegetable.
Following are the basic nutrient.
N (Nitrogen) P (Phosphorus) K (Potassium)
Zinc , Copper, Sulfur, Boron etc
NPK fertilizers are also available in market and some of them also offer a mixture of micro nutrient. For example a common combination is "20 + 20 + 20 + TE" TE stands for trace elements.
Alternate to chemical fertilizer is FYM or farm yard manure, chicken manure, fish bones . Combination of FYM and chemical fertilizer produces best results. Remember to use well decomposed FYM to avoid fungus problems.
Getting back to fertilizer combination. Nutrient combination is different for every vegetable plant . So before you start a crop you must know the combination that works best for that particular vegetable. Using wrong combination would have bad effect on your crop and can be very costly.
Always add a basal dose of fertilizers when your using soil for your crop. Be cautious when using calcium based fertilizer as it effects efficiency of other nutrients.
All fertilizers should be diluted using water before giving it to crop. Fertilizer overdose can cause burning or aggressive vegetative growth.
NPK combination for Vegetables
1 - 2 - 1.5
1 - 2 - 1
1.5 -2- 1
1 - 1 - 2
1- 3 - 1
2 - 2 - 1
NPK Foliar Application
NPK foliar combinations are very effective . Foliar fertilizers are fertilizers that are sprayed on plants using a spray machine. Make sure that you are not using concentrated foliar mixture for spraying. Comprehended amount of water should be added to all foliar fertilizers.
Concentrated foliar may cause burning. Best time for foliar application is between 8 am to 11 am or 3:30 PM to 4:30 Pm
Insect Control and Weed Control
How to grow vegetables - Weed Control
If your using pots to sow vegetables then make sure that you use a good compost mixed with weed free soil. Weeds consume nutrition that are meant for your vegetables so getting rid of weed is an important issues. You can remove weeds using good old ploughing method that requires few labour hours. Push cultivators may be used or weed can be pulled out by hand.
Advance techniques in weed control include mulching and herbicides. Both pre emerge and post emerge herbicides are available in market, read label carefully before use.
I always prefer good mulching before all vegetable crops. Both black and white plastic sheets are equally effective. Mulching sprayed with herbicides produce best results.
How to grow vegetables - Insecticides
Insecticides are available for all kind of harmful insects, most of them are poisonous and should be used with great care . Pesticides or insecticides are very effective but they still require appropriate diagnosis. You must be able to identify harmful insect before they cause harm to your crop.
I always use Sticky fly traps and pheromone to prevent out breaks. These are all cheap products and are effective in keeping insect population under check.
Pruning vegetable for better production
Some vegetables need pruning for good yield and excellent quality. Cucumber,tomatoes and bell peppers are pruned for high productions. Pruning techniques are different for cucumber and pepper but purpose is same, to control vegetative growth of plant.
Some vegetables are trained using different types of trellis, which help with more production in smaller area. Thread or net trellis are mostly used for cucumbers and peppers but you can create what ever design suits you. In china bamboo is used for training different crops.
Old and worn out leafs should be removed from lower parts of plants .
Drip Irrigation or Trickle irrigation
Drip or Trickle irrigation is basically all about saving water and nutrients. The whole set-up may cost a little but its worth it in long term. What it actually does is let you provide just enough amount of water and nutrients to your plant. In return you get almost no weeds and you save a lot in terms of fertilizers. Drip irrigation system is a must have item for all kind of growers these days.
Although it sounds a bit complicated but actually its not. You can design your own custom irrigation system in no time and all tubing, pumps and plugs are available at local hardware shop. To get a better idea of what you need you should visit your local farms and suppliers. For on-line information i would recommend Crop King or other sellers.
Preparing Pits for Fruit Plants
Digg up a 1.5 by 2 ft hole in the ground . Use the same soil to make a good fertile plant starter. You can also add fungicide to this soil mix . Transplant your plant and give water and you are set . Make sure you don't over water your plants and also make sure that your selected location has adequate sunlight available. If you have pets or farm animals then you may require a protection fence for first year .
How to grow - Farming Guide
© 2012 Edward Harris MSc