Fruit & Vegetable Garden

Overview

Vegetable and fruit gardens are gaining popularity in both rural and urban settings. As a hobby, gardening is a great way to meet other gardeners and maybe even save money on grocery bills. Growing a vegetable garden is also a great family activity--everyone from the very young to older members of a family can get involved.

What to Grow

The space you have for your garden will have some impact on what you can grow. Even in small gardens, fruits such as strawberries can be planted in small containers. Other fruit such as oranges or blueberries need more space. What you like to eat should be a factor on what you decide to grow. Write down a list of vegetables and fruits that you like to eat. Ask your gardening center for directions for planting the vegetables and fruits you select.

Types of Layouts

Row gardening: This design is best for large flat gardens. Most often used in commercial gardens, rows can be tilled using a tractor or a tiller. Leave paths wide enough to allow you to walk between them. Container gardening: City dwellers who have only a porch or patio can grow vegetables and fruits in containers. This type of garden takes less space, but you must choose vegetables and fruits carefully because some do not grow well this way. Raised bed gardens: Raised beds--structures that have four sides and hold soil for plants--work well in areas with poor soil or insufficient drainage.

Soil Preparation

Garden soil needs a balance of organic material, water and air circulation. Unfortunately, not every yard has the perfect soil. To prepare soil for gardening, add compost, shredded leaves or rotted manure to the area where your garden is planned. Till to mix the soil and organic matter together. This will help soil retain water and provide nutrients.

Watering

Smaller gardens and container gardens can usually be hand watered either using a watering can or a hose. The disadvantage is that hand watering is very time consuming and plants might not get enough water if you're in a rush. Overhead watering with a sprinkler for one hour is a convenient and easy way to get moisture to your garden. The disadvantage is that you can waste more water. Another method of watering is drip irrigation. A hose with many small holes or flat tubing with slits is placed on the ground beside plants. Watering with this method for 15 minutes can put moisture into the soil quickly. Cost is a disadvantage--equipment can be expensive, and it is time-consuming to set up.

Care and Harvest

Mulching around your plants (2 to 4 inches) will cut down on weeds and help your plants retain moisture. Some plants such as carrots and turnips requiring thinning. To decrease the chance of pests and rodents in your garden, keep it clean. Pull weeds, harvest fruit and vegetables regularly and rake debris or leaves. Rotted or overripened fruit and vegetables should be removed and discarded (or used for compost).

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