Sweet peaches, crisp snap beans and tart apples are just a few of the vegetables and fruits that are commonly grown in home gardens. Cultivating such edibles is not difficult if the correct steps are followed in terms of selection, planting and care. Without the basics, disappointment could follow. A plant that flourishes in one place may not in another, for instance. Improper watering, sunlight or fertilizing will lead to disaster with certain temperamental varieties. Give each plant what it requires, and successful harvests are more likely to ensue.
Each area of the world has plants that flourish in its climate and others that don't. Grow only fruit and vegetables that are hardy enough to tolerate the coldest nights and hottest days that your region experiences. Determine with USDA hardiness zone you live in and use it to guide you in your gardening endeavors. Also rely on local weather forecasts, which will help you determine the last and first frost dates where you live, particularly if you are planning to grow warm-season vegetables.
Give plants as much space to grow as they need. Fruits and vegetables that are planted too close together will crowd each other as they mature, which can stunt their growth. Crowding also causes poor air circulation between stems, branches and foliage, which can contribute to disease and pest infestations. Know how large plants will grow, and use that information to maximize garden and orchard space so that space is not wasted.
Vegetable and fruit plants or trees generally must be provided with consistent water. Younger plants and trees, along with those that are flowering and producing fruit, require more water than those that have surpassed their production stage for the year. Water plants more during long dry periods and when the wind kicks up for extended periods of time, which can cause quicker ground evaporation. Mulch around plant and tree bases to help retain moisture in the soil.
Diseases and Pests
Frequently monitor your plants for diseases and pests, which can either damage or kill plants. Some insects, like aphids, can be controlled by forcefully spraying them off plants with water. Slugs and other larger pests can be removed by hand. Diseases pose a larger problem because they infiltrate the interior of the plant, cutting off its water and nutrient supplies at the vascular level. Examine viable ways to treat newly infected plants with herbicides to control the problem, or remove and destroy diseased plants so that they do not infect others.
Pick vegetables and fruits when they are at their peak, a factor that is individual to each species. For instance, pick zucchinis when they are still young and tender, long before they reach baseball bat size. Pick vegetables and fruit before they begin to rot on the vines, branches or stems. Know how much one plant's maximum production capabilities are, and plan accordingly by planting enough to eat right after harvest or to preserve.