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New to vegetable gardening

Posted: Sat Feb 14, 2009 12:01 am
by phoenix6
Hello everyone,

I'm here today to ask a few questions on my mothers behalf who is interested in starting a vegetable garden.

With that said I have a few questions that I hope other members of this forum might be able to assist me with, and perhaps guide me in the right direction to finding the answers to my questions.

1.First of all I would like to know what are the key fundamentals that any one person should know about before considering starting a vegetable garden?

2.What are the fundamentals and requirements that one should know about in order to start the actual process?

3.What have been the best methods, through personal experience to maintaining and up-keeping their garden once the actual process has been underway? Are there any references to ideal "systems" that have been proven to work and be effective?

4.What are common mistakes made by beginners to the field of vegetable gardening?

5.Is there a difference in method of Organic vegetable gardening and standard vegetable gardening? If so, what might that be? What is more popular among gardeners?

6.For anyone who is an experienced vegetable gardener, what are some things that you wish you would have done after you started your vegetable garden? What are some things you would like to know yourself in order to perhaps, increase the effectiveness of your garden?



7.Are there any recommended books?


I'm really trying to get a basic understanding here of all that might involve the process of vegetable gardening, as myself nor my mother have any experience in this field of endeavor.

Any help that could be provided would be greatly appreciated!


Thank you all!


EDIT: I'd like to add one more question in here and that is:
If there could exist the ideal product for either an experienced gardener or one who is just new to it, what would (in your opinion) that product consist of in terms of being most helpful, beneficial and insightful?

Posted: Sat Feb 14, 2009 1:00 am
by hendi_alex
I'll throw out a few considerations but as many, many books have been written regarding any of several aspects of your questions, only very general issues will be addressed here.

1. You need a fairly rich, balanced soil.

topics to research:
composting
soil types
soil testing
soil ammendements
Role of earthworms in the soil

2. You need to select plants that match your climate and micro conditions

Questions to consider:
how much sun/shade does my garden receive?
What is the safe planting date in the spring, for my area?
What plants best match my planting zone?
How free is my garden plot from competition from tree roots?
How quickly does my soil drain/dry out?

3. What gardening technique or techniques interest me?

Topics for research:
Square foot gardening
Intensive gardening
traditional row crop gardening
drip irrigation vs. more traditional watering
organic techniques vs. use of chemicals

Other topics to consider:
raised bed gardening
the benefits of using mulch and which mulches are best to use
companion planting
succession planting
crop rotation
use of cover crops

I would suggest that you decide on a limited size and limited number of vegetables to try the first year. It would be good to read some information about square foot or block planting vs row planting and decide which you prefer to try the first year. Perhaps you will want to start out more traditional with chemical fertilizers and limited pesticide use, and then experiment or migrate toward more organic techniques as you learn more and as you accumulate a supply of compost, if you go that direction.

Cautions/suggestions:

Don't plant too early, especially warm soil loving plants like tomatoes, peppers, beans. Salad, spinach, arugula, cool weather plants can go in very early, at least a month or two before the warm weather plants.

Get your soil tested and add lime or fertilizer as is recommended.

Inspect plants regularly and stay ahead of pests. Healthy, vigorous growing plants is the best defense against both pests and disease. When possible chose disease resistant plants, especially for tomatoes.

Use drip irrigation or soaker hose arrangement if possible. Always water from the bottom and wet plant tops as little as possible.

Weed early and weed regularly, don't want to get behind on that task.

In the south, protect most plants from late afternoon sun when possible.

Pick squash, eggplant, and cucumbers when the fruit is small.

Go to the library and find a gardening book or two that strike some chord with your interest.

Posted: Sat Feb 14, 2009 1:33 am
by cynthia_h
A reference librarian at your local public library would be the best starting place. They LIVE for this kind of question (I volunteer at my local library a couple of times a week).

If you prefer browsing among the shelves randomly, the number 635 in the Dewey Decimal System is the number for gardening. From 635 (with no decimal extension) through 635.9998, every book will relate to some aspect of gardening.

I don't recommend going to a bookstore and looking at what they have (for beginners) because gardening "styles" go in and out of fashion. The new releases are likely to be whatever is "in fashion" right now. The library will have a collection of books with much better perspective.

Your approach to gardening needs to be in keeping with your climate, available land and water, personal energy and time available, financial resources, need, and so on.

"How to garden" has been a huge subject of philosophy as well as practice ever since Cato the Elder wrote his treatise in Republican Rome.

If your local library is open tomorrow, that would be a good way to spend Valentine's Day--figuring out how to approach the (possible) love of your life: gardening.

Best wishes.

Cynthia H.
Sunset Zone 17, USDA Zone 9