Growing crunchy sweet carrots, tender string beans, tomatoes full of flavor, juicy cucumbers, crisp lettuce and leafy greens bursting with vitamins is every gardener's dream. It doesn't take a miracle, hours of time or lots of fancy gadgets to have a thriving vegetable garden. However, it does take common sense, some knowledge and a bit of work.
Know what hardiness zone you live in and select appropriate vegetables. Warm-season veggies like peppers, eggplant and tomatoes need long, warm summer days to thrive. However, some varieties mature in a shorter amount of time than others—great where the summers are short.
Cool-season vegetables like broccoli, lettuce, leafy greens and most root vegetables prefer cooler temperatures. Plant early enough in the spring so they mature and are ready to harvest before the early summer heat hits. Otherwise, the plants will bolt or flower and go to seed. When that happens, the veggies become bitter. Get an early start on warm-season vegetables by starting them inside in pots, next to a sunny window. Most seeds will germinate more quickly if soaked in water for 24 hours before planting.
Most vegetables, including cool-season vegetables, need at least eight hours of sun. While they may grow with less sun, they won't do nearly as well. Locate your garden where they get the sun they need. Conversely, high summer temperatures slow down growth. If you have hot summers, provide afternoon shade for the vegetable garden.
Vegetables like rich, loamy soil. Add lots of compost and organic matter to garden dirt before planting. No matter how much fertilizer you add while the plant is growing, it won't make up for poor soil to begin with. Raised beds filled with top soil or potting soil are ideal for veggies.
Feed the veggies with a water-soluble fertilizer at half strength twice as often as the package directs.
Deep, Consistent Watering
Shallow watering every day encourages roots that don't grow very strong or deep. A strong root system is important to the plant's growth. Water deeply every week rather than a light sprinkle every day. Veggies need an inch of water per week, more in locations where summer temperatures are higher.
Kill the Competition and the Pests
Weeds compete with vegetables for water, space and food. Pull weeds as soon as you notice them. Small weeds are easier to get rid of then tall weeds. Before planting in the spring, cover the garden soil with plastic. The weeds will sprout quickly because the plastic retains heat and moisture. Pull them or dig them under and the garden should remain weed free.
Pick off bugs and other insects by hand and drown in a bucket of water. Or spray the bugs with a hard stream of water to knock them off.