Depending on where you live and the amount of land or space you can devote to your garden, you have three main choices if you plan to grow your own fruit and vegetable garden.
Vegetable Garden For Beginners
The three methods available to you are:
- In-Ground Gardening
- Raised Bed Gardening
- Container Gardening
The traditional way gardening involves directly planting your seeds or seedlings directly into the ground. this is all good if you have rich, loose well-draining soil. This is not the case for most beginner gardeners. You may find that you have compacted clay soil that needs a lot of work like tilling and the addition of soil amendments to make your soil up to par for gardening.
Amendments such as peat moss, compost, grass clippings, and manure need to be mixed with garden soil to come up with a healthy light mix of soil for your plants to thrive in.
In-ground gardens have the lowest overhead to start. All you do is find a spot, rip off the sod, amend the soil, then sow the seeds or seedlings. Conversely, you will be eternally challenged by the need to weed, have watering issues (water runoffs), tilling that destroys soil life and kills worms. and the inability to mulch thus exposing the soil to the sun’s wrath.
Raised Bed Gardening for Beginners
If you do not want to rip up topsoil and labor to till the area in which you intend to start your garden, you can embark on the second method of gardening known as the raised bed method. This method involves the building of a frame to manageable specifications (e.g. 4×6, 4×8, etc.), filling it with a good soil amendment (peat moss, compost, manure and). There are many materials you can use for raised bed gardening such as wood, concrete blocks, landscape timber – you are only limited by your imagination.
This is the third on my list of gardening methods. I mainly use this method because I live is a suburban area/neighborhood where neighbors use chemicals to treat their landscape/grass and because of a possible runoff issue, I want no part of these chemicals o to contaminate my vegetable garden.
You can use five-gallon buckets or larger/smaller depending on what you want to plant. For my tomatoes and cucumbers I use ten-gallon containers, my okra and beans/peas I use 5-gallon buckets. For my peppers, I use 3-gallon containers. Read up on the plants you want to grow and you should find out about the minimum size pot or container you will need to support your plant’s and maximize their growth.
It is important that you fill your containers with loose and well-draining soil. It is recommended to use potting mix amended with perlite and peat moss. If you use this method of planting be aware that containers dry out more rapidly than planting in-ground or using the raised bed method. Your container should get adequate watering to prevent them from drying out. Watering can be done manually or automatically using a timer. However, the larger the container, the more water it will retain.
Containers used for gardening must have several drainage holes drilled about 1 inch from the bottom of the bucket. I typically drill four holes in the sides of a 5-gallon bucket to allow for drainage. This will prevent your plants from becoming water-logged thus drowning your plant’s roots.
Food safe containers must be used to prevent harmful chemicals from leaching into the soil and contaminating your plants. Plastic buckets with the following printed on the bottom of the container are generally safe to use to plant vegetables.
Here are some pictures of containers used for planting vegetables.
There you have it, the three basic methods of gardening. Each has its pros and cons but all of them will produce fantastic results whether you have a large plot of land or just a balcony.