Vegetable gardening can be a rewarding hobby for both novice gardener and the experienced gentleman farmer. Properly managed vegetable gardens can yield results that can feed entire families. Different aspects of gardening should be considered during the planning and growing times of the year.
Soil is important in vegetable gardening. Having the proper acidity level ensures good soil. A pH test kit is used to help determine the acidity of the soil and can be used to identify what fertilizers or amendments are needed for the garden. Rotation of crops is used to balance the nutrients in the soil; this is because what some plants remove in nutrients, others return to the soil when planted in a rotated cycle. Additions to soil such as red worms help add nutrients and minerals to the soil. Aeration of the soil is also important to provide oxygen to the root systems of plant life.
Depending on the type of vegetable gardening, the growing season can be very short as with alfalfa or year-round as with indoor and greenhouse gardens. The geography also dictates the growing season. Florida has a long growing season compared to Ohio; North Dakota has a short season. There are also various times during the season when certain vegetables have optimal growing seasons.
Two methods used to both extend growing and make optimal efficiency of land use are companion gardening and succession planting. Companion gardens use plants that can grow together for the benefit of each other. Examples of companion planting would be carrots surrounding beans or celery with cabbage. Succession planting uses growing times and land use to have multiple crops grown in the same location. The National Garden Association provides an example of succession planting would be planting radishes followed by turnips and then kale all within the same 5-foot row, harvesting one then planting the next in line. Prune back suckers and auxiliary vines to help the main plant conserve energy and nutrients for growing vegetables.
Vegetable gardening requires the application of fertilizers to enrich the soil and grow robust plants. Fertilizers can be natural or manmade. Examples of natural fertilizers used in vegetable gardening include compost of organic material or peat moss. There are man-made versions of natural fertilizers in chemical form using potassium and other ingredients.
Vegetable gardening is prone to various pests causing problems for the gardener. Aphids and spider mites are the most common found among green leafy plants. Ants can cause damage by sheer numbers; a similar infestation can occur with flea beetles. Quick action upon discovery is the only sure solution to saving the garden. Use of ladybugs, lacewings, wasps and other beneficial insects can bring pest problems under control naturally because these beneficial insects are predators that eat the pests.
High grass and garbage around the garden area attract pests. Snakes, rabbits, squirrels, rodents and deer all use high grass to approach their eating area.