Vegetable Gardening Secrets

Gardeners learn by doing. Experimentation is part of the fun of growing your own vegetables. The wonderful thing about gardening is that you never stop acquiring knowledge and learning techniques to employ in growing healthier, more bountiful crops. Gardeners in cold climates spend the frigid winter days drawing plans for the spring garden, or selecting new varieties of vegetables from seed catalogs. It's not just about the results--the fresh, tasty vegetables you grow--it's also about the process of becoming a more skillful gardener.

Organic Pest Control

Plants can help each other grow and protect each other from pests when they are located in close proximity. Parsley, dill, carrots and coriander do this by attracting beneficial insects into the garden that consume the ones that might harm nearby vegetables. Herbs and flowers use fragrance to deter pests. Rosemary can drive away pests such as carrot flies and bean beetles. Marigolds release chemical compounds below ground that discourage pests in the soil. Referred to as companion planting, this method of organic gardening is easy to implement. You just need to know which plants work well together and which don't. Potatoes and tomatoes are not good garden buddies, because blight can be spread from one to the other.

Water Efficiently

Unless you have a very small garden space or live in a climate with abundant rainfall, the best way to provide water for your vegetables is through an irrigation system. Plants' water requirements vary with the seasons. An irrigation system with a timer allows you to deliver just the right amount of water so the plants' roots do not dry out. And by watering close to the soil level, less water is wasted through evaporation. Try soaker hoses, flexible tubing with small perforations that release water at defined intervals. Drip emitters are also popular with gardeners. With those, you can regulate the flow of water delivered to each plant.

Position Plants for Success

Make sure your garden is located in a sunny area of your yard. Most vegetables need at least six hours of sunlight each day. Up to 10 hours is even better for them. A few varieties, such as lettuce and spinach, can do with less and may even prefer partial shade from the hot afternoon sun, depending on your climate. Having your garden near trees or shrubs may be esthetically pleasing, but these larger plants' roots may grow into the garden and compete with your vegetables for nutrients. And the larger plants usually win. Place tall plants such as tomatoes and corn on the north side of the garden so they don't block the sun from the shorter varieties.

Use Vertical Space

Keep in mind that a number of garden favorites such as peas, cucumbers, pole beans and even squash can be trained to grow vertically. You can use wire fencing, trellises, poles formed into a tripod shape or specially designed wire garden cages to help you take advantage of the vertical dimension in your garden. This increases the amount of vegetables you can produce from a given space.

Keywords: vegetable gardening, growing vegetables, organic gardening

About this Author

Brian Hill's first writing credit was the cover story for a national magazine. He is the author of three popular books, "The Making of a Bestseller," "Inside Secrets to Venture Capital" and "Attracting Capital from Angels." Among his magazine article credits are the March 2005 and June 2008 issues of "The Writer." His interests include golf, football, movies and his two dogs.