Vegetable Gardening - Ideas for Beginners to Seasoned Pros
Vegetable gardening is something so rewarding it makes me wonder why I don’t do more of it. When I was growing up we always had a garden filled with vegetables, and when my children were small I always had one too.
Over the years though, my vegetable garden has gotten smaller and smaller as my perennials took up more of my valuable space. This year it consisted of two pots of cherry tomatoes on the patio.
I am still up to my ears though in fresh produce which is one reason I don’t have my own veggie patch. My father in law and my daughter both have large gardens as does my next door neighbor and several friends. I am the grateful beneficiary of all their excess produce.
I love seeing beautiful gardens with nice straight rows of radishes and onions, tomatoes in their little cages and beans climbing up their poles and trellises, but I’ve realized that I’d rather have flowers to look at, cut and smell.
If I had more space I would have both and if I had small children I would definitely find a place for vegetables.
Most vegetables need several hours of sunlight a day which is another reason I don’t have such a garden. The trees in my yard do not give me a lot of continual sunlight all day and the vegetables I can buy at local markets are so nice. Mine weren’t always so beautiful.
Many vegetables grow readily from seeds which is why it is so rewarding for children to grow a vegetable garden, but the further north you live, the shorter the growing season and starting your garden from seeds can be frustrating if you’re not patient enough.
If you want to start tomatoes from seed in Wisconsin you really need to start them inside sometime in March to really take advantage of them most of the summer. Otherwise they don’t start to really produce until late August or September and then you start risking early frosts.
Some other advantages of buying plants instead of starting from seed are you can buy several varieties of the same vegetable. You will probably buy a reasonable number of plants instead of trying to plant all 25 seedlings that might come up. When you’re putting plants in the garden you will automatically give them more space than you would if you planted seeds and you can start out with appropriate cages and stakes.
Vegetables grow quickly and it is better to start out with appropriate supports because the alternative is trying to tie up unruly plants that are crawling all over their neighbors and turning your nice neat rows into chaos.
Weeding, mulch and water are all critical to a good vegetable garden, but even when neglected you’ll probably be rewarded with veggies if the weather is co operative.
My father in law loves to garden and every winter he studies the seed catalogs and orders some really cool vegetables. He starts his seeds in plant trays and labels everything with awesome little handmade stakes. He always starts way too many seeds and he takes orders from all his grandchildren and then gives them their seedlings later in the spring. When it’s finally planting time his garden is glorious. Again everything is labeled and he usually has invented some awesome contraption for his peas and beans to grow on and special cages and supports for all of his tomatoes.
I’ve noticed though that this might be the extent of his passion. After all the love and attention he’s lavished on his seedlings, once they’re in the garden they’re on their own. Fortunately, my mother in law likes to harvest the garden. Every year she makes pickles, cans beets, and tries to distribute excess produce to people like me that are more than happy to take some off her hands, but it wasn’t always that way.
I remember one year in particular when my children were quite young. My father in law asked me if I wanted any tomatoes to can and I did. I was shocked though when I got to the garden. There were tomatoes everywhere. I picked up almost a bushel off the ground. I took as many as I could and I canned for two days, but there were probably still that many rotting on the ground. So you see why I don’t need to have my own vegetable garden.
I do love the smell though of tomato vines so I usually content myself with one or two patio cherry plants. This year I didn’t get to enjoy eating many of them because two of my grandsons picked every one they saw and popped them in their mouths immediately-ripe or not. I’m assuming they were delicious.
It is easy to have a vegetable garden even in limited space. Notice in the picture above how closely the onions and lettuce are planted. Since you are constantly picking the lettuce and the leeks gow vertically they make good companions in a small space.
Training beans and peas to grow up is helpful. Staggering your planting extends the life of your garden and growing lettuce as a border to other gardens can be quite attractive. Growing herbs and tomatoes in big pots is also very doable, and vegetables can even be grown on balconies or in narrow strips of land next to the foundation of the house or garage.
Since I have so many gardeners in my family, I thought you might like hearing their stories. Most of us have gardened in some form or another all of our lives and it is very rewarding to see my grown up children starting to continue the tradition with their own children.
My daughter has become a wildly successful vegetable gardener. You might think her methods are a little unorthodox-she is after all related to her grandfather- but her story should give you the confidence to start your own garden. Read on.
Choosing the Best Tomatoes for your Home Garden
starting Vegetable Seeds
Start a Vegetable Garden
Friend and Family Gardens
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