Growing a vegetable garden is easy, fun, and rewarding. Once you know what you want to grow, and how you want to lay your garden out, you need to focus on the medium you will be using. Soil is on of the most important elements of your vegetable garden. The right soil will help increase your yield, protect from disease, and provide nutrients to your plants, which in the long run, increases the harvest you make. A vegetable garden has different soil requirements than gardening flowers or landscaping, but by following these easy steps, your vegetable garden will produce healthy, and plentiful, plants for you to harvest from.
Most vegetables need to be planted in a medium that drains well, and does not retain too much excess water. That being said, soils that drain too quickly will have an adverse effect on your garden, making it constantly dry out, and will cause your vegetable plants to go to seed prematurely. This is particularly important for vegetable farmers wishing to grow predominantly salad greens, tender herbs like cilantro, parsley, and basil, and other leafy varieties of vegetables. These vegetables are susceptible to bolting early when the soil is consistently dry, meaning they become woody and flower.
To create the perfect mixture to begin your vegetable garden with, mix one-part compost with one-part potting soil. Soil that is perfect for vegetables will allow water to drain through it well, while still retaining moisture within itself. If you find that the mix you have is too heavy still, and is not draining out, add more universal potting soil to the mix to help make the medium fluffier and lighter. If you are growing your vegetable garden in pots, the same medium can be used, but it is a good idea to line the bottom of the pot with 2” of loose gravel to provide further drainage. Once your garden is established, and the plants are growing well, some gardeners chose to add fertilizer to increase harvest yield and to ensure that the plants stay healthy and hearty. If you are planning on keeping your garden organic, and still want to care for your plants, fertilizer may not be the best solution. Instead, compost can be added to the top of the soil and when you water your garden, the nutrients will seep into the soil, allowing you to keep your garden chemical free, and allowing your plants to get the nutrition they need to continue growing and thriving.
Soil that does not drain sufficiently will cause your plants roots to rot, and encourages mold growth and disease among your plants. Ensuring that the soil is light enough to drain properly will also ensure aeration to the soil. Aeration encourages root health and also helps to air out and maintain soil health. At the end of each season, it is a good idea to remove and check your soil to ensure that the soil is rotated and renewed before replacing it to the pots, or if your vegetable garden is in the ground, it is a good idea to turn over your garden completely.