A well-tended garden filled with vegetable plants and herbs provides the vigilant gardener with food and flavorings. Growing vegetables and herbs, though, requires more than just planting seedlings and watering the garden. Factors such as the quality of soil and water-delivery systems should be taken into account. To increase the chances of having a successful garden, certain conditions should be created to optimize plant growth and production.
Create a compost heap or pile near the garden area. Turn kitchen scraps and shredded yard waste into dark, crumbly compost that when added to garden soil becomes humus. Humus is defined as decayed organic matter. It is rich in nutrients and microbes, both necessary elements in building healthy soil.
Regularly add organic compost to garden soil for a continuous supply of food for vegetable and herb plants. The presence of humus also gives the soil a good texture, creating an environment in which water drains well but the soil retains enough moisture for plants to access between watering.
Set up a drip system or soaker hose for the garden to direct water to plant roots. This conserves water as the gardener is not watering unplanted areas. Directing water to the roots reduces the risk of pest invasions. Plants take up water only through their root systems. Water on stems and leaves attracts pests, may burn leaves if heated by the sun and creates an environment ripe for mildew if left on leaves during the night.
Set the watering system to water early in the morning, as this allows the water to soak into the ground before evaporation by sunlight takes place.
Planting vegetables and herbs in close proximity to one another in specified pairings is referred to as companion planting. Planting basil with tomato, for example, is said to improve the flavor of the harvested tomatoes. Certain herbs, such as dill, also attract beneficial insects to your garden. When planning the garden, use this practice to improve the growth and production of vegetable plants, implement an organic form of pest control and create a diversified environment in which the garden more closely resembles the patterns of nature.
Grow vegetables at the right time of year. Different vegetables require different sets of environmental conditions. Cool season vegetables perform best in cooler weather. Winter squash, for example, should be planted in late summer for harvest before the first frost. Warm-season vegetables, such as tomatoes and peppers, should be planted in spring for harvest in the summer months. Vegetable plants are more likely to thrive and produce if they are planted and tended during their natural growing seasons.