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May 2016
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Some tips for growing vegetables in your garden

There can be a hundred tips for growing vegetables in your garden, especially if you consider the wide variety of vegetables and fruits that people can grow in their garden, that they can grow in the ground or in containers, that they can grow in a variety of seasons (although it is universally recognized that only a few or almost no vegetables thrive in frost or hard winter conditions), it is hard to come up with a few tips that universally work across a wide range of veggies or fruits. So, consider these tips as more useful if you are new to gardening rather than if you are an experienced gardener. Here are some of these tips. If you like these tips or some issue, or have some tips of yours to contribute, please do so in the comments:
– Vegetables love sunlight; most thrive in conditions of good sunlight where the light is available for 5 or more hours. However, this is not true in the case of harsh sun, say where the temperature is over 40 degrees Celsius (in which case you would need to provide some sort of shade, either by moving the plant in shade or using a shade net over the plants). Equally, there are some plants that can do with lesser amount of sunlight, and in fact, there are plants that need much lesser light to grow; these would be classified as winter plants that work with much lesser amount of heat and light. And this brings us to another point about summer and winter.
– It would seem like an exception to the above point, in fact directly contradictory, but plants have their own seasons that they work well in. So, there are plants that need to be started in spring, some that need to be started in fall, some that need to be planted in summer. So, when you want to do some planting of a vegetable or fruit, do some reading up of the plant before you go ahead. If it’s a summer plant and you are trying to plant just after frost, there are good chances that it would not work well, not germinating or dying soon after.
– Gardening has a learning curve. You can do a large amount of reading and research before you start, but there are many things that you will learn as you proceed; for example, the right kind of soil (or potting mix), the type of pests that can attack your plants and how to fight them off (or to remove attacked parts of plants for the safety of your remaining plants), the growth rates of plants, the type of nutrients to add to your plants and the plant growth phase in which to add nutrients, the exact point at the growth rate where the vegetable or fruit needs to be harvested. What all of this means is that if you are planning to have a 50 container garden, don’t start with all of them. Start with 10 or 15, plants some plants, take your learning and see how it goes for you, and then grow your garden by adding more plants / pots.
– Patience is the name of the game while gardening. A plant will take a certain amount of time to grow and produce fruit or be harvested, and even if you do the best while taking care of conditions such as nutrients, the plant will not suddenly start growing much more faster (it might be in the best of health and produce more when it is time to produce). Even the fact of germination of seeds teaches you patience, with the germination period of some seeds being only 3-5 days but others being measured in terms of weeks rather than days. Have patience, and remember, this applies to the whole of your gardening.
– Budget for time to take care of plants. I have seen so many neighboring places where they initially planted with a lot of enthusiasm, but the plants soon died out. People do not budget that the garden or their plants are living things that need care like anything else. If you had a pet, you would take care of it on a regular basis. Similarly, the plants need to have regular attention from you – watering, removing weeds, adding nutrients, pruning, repotting (sometimes moving to bigger pots); you need to work out the time you need for these activities and budget accordingly.
– Try and get the size of your pots / planters right. If you want good produce from a plant and it is in a pot, you need to ensure that the pot is placed correctly. If you place a capsicum plant in a 8 inch planter, there is a higher likelihood that your capsicum plant will not produce as it should and you would be disappointed; while if you planted in a 12 inch pot, you will get more capsicums from the same plant.
– You need to ensure you have the right potting mix. A mix that drains well, is rich organically and yet does not dry out very quickly is the right mix. People have all kinds of combinations, although the one I use is fairly simple to make – 1 part of cocopeat, 1 part of vermicompost, and 1 part of soil (but you could experiment with different combinations and use the one that works best for you). Or you could ask around for what works for other gardeners and use that one.
– Watering just right. Plants don’t like too much water, or too little water. Most of them are not finicky about water conditions, but they do require regular watering to thrive and grow well. If it is spring or fall and not very hot and you water twice a day, the roots can actually start rotting in this overkill of water; but if you have hot summer days where the soil dries out the soil fast, then you may need to water twice a day to ensure that the plant remains in good condition and does not start drying out.
– Nutrients. Even though chemical nutrients in the form of fertilizer is used in commercial farms and leads to a high quantity of production, most people who care about their health prefer that the nutrients they add is organic. It is not difficult to set up a composting pile that is fed by kitchen waste and generates a good quality compost that ensures your plants remain organic.

There can be many other tips for your garden, and as start working on your garden, you will be able to generate such tips on your own as well. There is no one right approach, you need to see what works best for you.

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